Off Walls Off Pedestals

The Story of Minah, the ‘Jogho’ from Southern Thailand

Posted in Mastura's Works, Wayang U-Wei by tsabri on March 10, 2010

Minah is a character portrayed in the film, ‘Jogho,’ by U-Wei.

Mastura, in her interest studying ‘U-Wei’s women’, chose Minah as a central character in her painting titled  ‘Cerita Minah Seorang Jogho / The Story of Minah, the Jogho’.

Minah is a traditional Malay kampong woman living in Southern Thailand. By traditional here, it means following the lifestyles, beliefs and perceptions that was conventionally practiced by the Malays of Southern Thailand since generations. Minah is a wife that loves and cares for her husband, Pak Mat (Mamat), a bullfighter that owns a stable of prize-winning fighting bulls. They had three daughters and a son who is studying in Kelantan, a bordering state of Malaysia. As the story goes, Pak Mat, who earlier brought the family to Southern Thailand after some unfortunate events, had to face certain conflicts involving his brother’s death and the revenge he seeks for that, and which later caused him to be jailed. Minah was left on her own to make decisions important to Pak Mat and her family, as well as her brother-in-law’s family.

Southern Thailand is known as a troubled region. Fighting, rebellions, bloodshed, gangsters, religious and racial intolerance, poverty as well as prostitutions and games are familiar associations with the region and its towns or cities. Further readings on Southern Thailand will bring us deep into its historical, cultural and political discussions. An article on the matters mentioned came across when we flipped through the pages of a Milenia Muslim magazine, published by the Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia (YADIM), August 2009 edition, from page 10 through page 19. The writer was however not named but described as Pengerusi Angkatan Pemuda-Pemudi Islam (API), Pulau Pinang, and the article was titled as ‘Tragedi Ngeri Umat Islam Selatan Thai’ (literally, A Frightening Tragedy of the Southern Malay Muslims). Some excerpts;

Kes 5

Tempat: Kampung Ai Saktia, Bukit, Narathiwat.

Responden: Maskah, (isteri mangsa)

Tarikh Kejadian: March 2008

 

Ustaz Aziz (48 tahun), mudir sebuah sekolah agama ditembak mati bersama anak lelaki sulongnya berusia 17 tahun kira-kira jam 4 petang di depan rumah kedai miliknya. Penyerang yang tidak dikenali melepaskan tembakan bertalu-talu secara mengejut dari sebuah kereta berwarna hitam…

Kes 11

Tempat: Kampung Ubei, Bannang Star, Yala.

Responden: Roqiah (Mak Ngah).

Tarikh Kejadian: Hujung 2008

 

… sejak hampir setahun yang lalu, suaminya, Abd Rahman, berumur 70 tahun ditahan di penjara Yala kerana dituduh menembak curi pasangan orang kenamaan Buddha yang pada ketika itu sedang melawat sebuah sekolah di Yala untuk memberi bantuan… kesedihan Mak Ngah bertambah beberapa bulan yang lalu apabila anaknya, Wan Ali, 27 tahun ditembak mati oleh pihak tentera kerana dituduh mencuri senjata di kem tentera. Dalam kejadian itu, Wan Ali bersama enam yang lain dipercayai dibunuh di sebuah pondok di Balau, Yala. Seorang daripada mereka dijerut mati di dalam sebuah rumah berhampiran pondok berkenaan…

And an artist-friend of ours, Fadzil Idris, who worked on ‘Jogho’ as the art director,  told how he traveled back to the ‘Jogho’ locations in Southern Thailand a couple of months ago. Most places were quiet and there were not much activities around, especially comes the night. People were too afraid to move. Fadzil was also invited by U-Wei to be in the Wayang U-Wei. His revisits to the ‘Jogho’ locations were parts of his research on the Wayang-Uwei’s project.

Such were the conditions in which Minah and her family and relatives were living. A weak Minah wouldn’t be able to ‘see her husband and son being killed in front of the shop house’. A weak Minah wouldn’t be able to ‘always visit her old husband in the cell’ and wouldn’t be able to ‘hear that her son was murdered’… a strong Minah is willing to face challenges in the bullring.

Mastura likes Minah and wanted to portray her in her painting using some multimedia approaches and techniques.. It reminded her of her studies on the process of making artworks using multimedia, and she was thinking of portraying Minah in an animated format. She was referring to the concept-boards and storyboards familiar to the Faculty of Creative Multimedia students.

Armed with a remote control, a digital camera, pen and a notebook, she began looking for Minah in ‘Jogho’. Whenever Minah appeared in a significant scene of her choice, Mastura would stopped ‘Jogho’ and shot the scene. She replayed the scene to note down Minah’s dialogues. She had to sometimes replay her chosen scenes several times to properly listen to the Pattani / Kelantanese dialect.

Mastura then transferred what she captured into her computer and worked on the images using Photoshop and other related software. Satisfied with her selections and workings she then contacted a friend to print out the images on canvas. The canvas-printed images then were cut according to her desired sizes, later to be arranged and glued onto a bigger canvas surface, which was the painting’s surface. She then worked on the painting’s colors, matching them with the printed images and her collages of cloths and other embroideries. Minah finally appeared in Mastura’s paintings as a ‘Jogho’ of a ‘Jogho’.

Working Sketch 1

Working Sketch 2

Computer workings

Printed scenes

Cutting

Other materials

Arrangements 1

Arrangements 2

Arrangements 3

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What I Have Done (They are Ready to be in An Exhibition Hall or A Cinema of U-Wei’s)

Posted in Wayang U-Wei by tsabri on March 10, 2010

The U-Wei’s film objects that Nishino brought last 30th December 2009 finally became the ‘Objects Found’. Today. They are:

1. Kerusi Panggung / Theatre Seats, measuring 127 x 51 x 91.5 cm this piece originated from three broken theatre seats that U-Wei chose. I chose only two of the seats, mended and wrapped them with galvanized wires in mostly horizontals and verticals arrangements – though there are parts arranged in diagonals. I would like it to be placed on a low white pedestal or platform measuring 137 x 61 x 10 cm.

I wanted to focus on the audience – audiences that have sat on them, that have used them for many sittings of movies. How the audience understands what he or she is looking at? Will they, in this case –  only two audiences, share the same understanding whilst watching at a same movie? Will any one of the two brings along his or her pasts whilst watching a movie (reflections) – and sits on one of the two seats? Will any one of the two imagines what he or she will be doing whilst watching a movie (speculations) – and sits on one the two seats?

2. Monumen untuk Mesin Penentu / Monument for the Deciding Machine, measuring 36 x 26 x 41 cm this piece is from an old editing machine that was chosen by U-Wei. It came with a long wooden plank served as its some kind of a base. I dismantled the base and placed the machine (which actually was consisted of two parts) on a wooden block, side by side. I then wrapped the whole thing, the machine parts and the wooden block, with galvanized wires. The piece will be suitable on a white pedestal, measuring some 34 x 34 x 120 cm.

I guessed an editing machine is one of essential instruments in filmmaking. U-Wei told me how he would be standing over the machine, examining the filmstrips that were placed on it, choosing and cutting unwanted whatever scenes. We also knew that there are some kinds of committees or boards that will use the ‘editing machine’ to monitor and censor scenes that are against whatever rules and regulations made, like the Lembaga Penapisan Filem (Board of Film Censorship) in Malaysia, an agency under the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

And, monument is something that was made to commemorate an important or significant events or persons. Something like the Tugu Negara or National Monument in Kuala Lumpur – it is a monument to commemorate those who died in Malaysia‘s struggle for freedom, principally against the Japanese occupation during World War II and the Malayan Emergency, which lasted from 1948 until 1960 (Wikipedia).

And, thinking of the ‘editing machine’ as one of the essentials in filmmaking, I would like to make (or sculpt?) it into ‘a monument of sorts’. It has become a ‘deciding machine’ – either to the film’s editor or director, or to the censorship board. And I wrapped it with galvanized wires that in time will rust – like what was used on the ‘Kerusi Panggung’. – … A monument or a monument’s surrounding may be ‘rusty’ or ‘uncared’ but the event or people commemorated will stays.

3. Cermin Mimpi yang Telah Rosak / A Damaged Mirror of Dreams, is a 3D piece measuring 44 x 69 x 154 cm. It is consisted of two parts; first is the ‘broken some kind of a projector’ that U-Wei chose for me, and second is my aluminum ladder. I attached the ‘broken some kind of a projector’ that was earlier dismantled and rearranged, to the aluminum ladder with galvanized wires. Then I painted the ladder that was originally in blue and aluminum black. I suppose it is best placed on a low white pedestal of 49 x 74 x 10 cm.

A projector has lens – the ‘broken some kind of a projector’ has a lens than contained a smaller oval lens inside it and three mirrors in different positions. I have overturned the position of the largest mirror that it now can reflect images fronting it.

A dream is a dream – it couldn’t be broken. What can be broke or damage is a mirror. A mirror here now is an instrument, or mirrors here, in the ‘broken some kind of a projector’ here now are instruments. Instruments can be broken, and can be repaired or mended if the damage is repairable. We always find suitable instruments to achieve our whatever objectives – a ladder for example, is an instrument to climb to get something or to be at some place higher.

4. Serunai Mentakab / The Mentakab Pipe, is something perhaps personal – probably both to U-Wei and myself. It is sort of a supposedly biography or autobiography of a Malay boy growing up in the 1960s and 1970s – in villages or small towns like Mentakab, where U-Wei came from. A pipe, usually made from weaved coconut leaves, is a common toy for the creative heads – making sounds and dreams of becoming some kind of a piper or trumpeter doing a solo in an orchestra.

The ‘Serunai Mentakab’ is long, measuring some 952 cm long with diameters of 19 cm at one end and 122 cm at another end. It looks like a giant pipe or some kind of a trumpet. It is segmented into four unequal parts; first is 157.5 cm long with diameters of 19 cm at one end and 44 cm at another end, second is 230 cm long with diameters of 19 cm at both ends, third is 225 cm long with diameters of 19 cm at both ends, and fourth is 340.5 cm long with diameters of 19 cm at one and 122 cm at another end. It is designed to be hanging up in space – floating between the ceiling and the floor, attached with almost invisible fishing lines. It is made of ‘Buai Laju-Laju’ filmstrips, weaved onto structures made from galvanized wires, and taped with cellophane tapes at some places.

The ‘serunai’ reminded me to another story that of the Pipe Piper of Hamelin, as mentioned in my earlier posting of my doings in preparing for Wayang U-Wei.

5. Poster is a wall piece measuring 56 x 82 x 5 cm. It is made of cut rolled posters of U-Wei films, wrapped onto an already twisted board displaying a poster of ‘Kaki Bakar’ with cotton twines and knotted with red plastic strings. I was focusing on a space – a space for putting up posters. Here in this work, there is only one limited space for posters – ‘the already twisted board’. The space is what it is – a space or surface, if you like, for putting up posters. It is somewhat fixed. But posters change – posters are meant to announce – here to announce U-Wei’s films. They are to persuade audiences to go and see the films. People, or audience, will stop and look at a poster at the ‘poster space’ – after some time the poster will be changed with another new one, at the same ‘poster space’.

The works aforementioned, here collectively named as ‘Objects Found’, are now finished and ready to leave my StudioWorkshop. I heard they (Tanah Licin, Uwei’s company, or Galeri Petronas) will be getting the works for photography and later made ready for the exhibition’s display in the coming April. I am now concerned with how to transport the ‘Serunai Mentakab’ as a part of it is quite long and has a large diameter. Che Mat said that I need a 2 ton lorry to transport it. Further more it is quite fragile – it cannot be simply placed anywhere without suspending from a certain height.

Appreciation Notes:

Thank you to U-Wei, for choosing the film objects, Nishino & the Tanah Licin boys, for bringing the film objects, Che Mat & Pak Rauf, for assisting in the making of Objects Found, and to Mastura, for the comments and criticisms.

Nishino explaining things on last 30th December 2009

Some of the 'Objects Found' in the dark of the StudioWorkshop's night.

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