Off Walls Off Pedestals

Sedikit Catatan mengenai Projek ‘Off Walls Off Pedestals’ di Akal diUlu, Hulu Langat, 2002

Posted in Other Works by tsabri on February 28, 2011

1. Pameran di Kebun Anggur

Karya Kanzaki Toyohiko di Noko | 2000

Kawakami-san adalah seorang kawan Juhari M. Said (Juhari), artis seni cetakan kayu yang terkenal. Ketika saya menjadi artis-residen di Fukuoka Asian Art Museum pada tahun 2000, Kawakami-san telah datang memperkenalkan dirinya selepas diberitahu Juhari. Kami bertemu beberapa kali. Pada suatu hari kelepasan, Kawakami-san telah membawa saya melawat sebuah pameran seni rupa di Pulau Nokonoshima yang terletak kira-kira setengah jam perjalanan feri dari Fukuoka. Pameran yang memuatkan beberapa instalasi itu dibuat di dalam sebuah kebun anggur. Saya dapat melihat karya seni yang diletak di atas pokok, di celah-celah pohon anggur, di hujung padang dan di merata tempat. Saya sangat teruja.

Kawakami-san memperkenalkan saya kepada kumpulan artis yang berpameran di situ. Mereka adalah sahabat baik Kawakami-san, seorang yang meminati seni rupa dan sudah pencen dari kerjanya sebagai seorang pegawai kerajaan. Kami berbual panjang dan timbullah idea untuk mengadakan pameran yang serupa di Malaysia. Kawakami-san sangat gembira kerana dia tahu Juhari mempunyai studio-kebun-kediaman yang boleh dijadikan tempat pameran seperti itu. Dia bersungguh-sungguh meminta saya untuk berbincang dengan Juhari apabila kembali ke Malaysia.

2. Akal diUlu

Sebahagian pemandangan Akal diUlu sebelum OWOP | 2002

Sekembali dari Fukuoka, saya berbincang dengan Juhari. Juhari sangat gembira melihat foto-foto pameran yang saya ambil di kebun Pulau Nokonoshima itu. Kami menyusun rancangan untuk membuat satu projek usahasama di antara artis-artis Malaysia dan Jepun. Projek yang akhirnya saya namakan Off Walls Off Pedestals (OWOP) itu di buat di Akal diUlu, studio-kebun-kediaman Juhari seperti cadangan Kawakami-san. Akal diUlu terletak di Hulu Langat, di perkampungan bahagian belakang Institut Kemahiran Belia Negara, Dusun Tua. Terdapat berbagai pohon buah-buahan di Akal diUlu, seperti rambutan, durian, manggis, pisang, sukun dan lain-lain. http://www.juharisaid.com/

3. Projek

Juhari telah meminta Salmah Abu Mansor (Salmah), seorang kawan yang juga kenalan Kawakami-san, untuk mengurus perjalanan OWOP terutamanya soal pendanaan kerana OWOP sebenarnya adalah ‘projek sendiri’ sesama artis. Salmah berpengalaman dalam mengurus projek-projek kesenian. Saya mengurus soal-soal konsep projek dan urusan artis, sementara Juhari menyediakan tempat pameran.

OWOP: Katalog Buatan Sendiri | 2002

Seramai 19 orang artis terlibat dengan OWOP. Lima orang artis dari Fukuoka dan selebihnya artis Malaysia yang menyertai sebagai artis perseorangan dan berkumpulan. Artis-artis Jepun ialah Akira Inoue, Katsu Murakami, Masaki Kidera, Maya Shuto dan Toyohiko Kanzaki. Artis Malaysia pula terdiri dari Juhari, Zulkifli Yusoff, Chong Yong, Helena Song, Noor Azizan Paiman dan Zainal Abidin Musa sebagai artis perseorangan; sementara saya dan Mastura Abdul Rahman sebagai satu kumpulan, Saubin, Ivan dan Hanafiah sebagai satu kumpulan lain, dan Hafiz, Roslisham dan Iruadee sebagai satu lagi kumpulan.

Pengurusan kewangan projek adalah sangat sulit kerana dana yang sedikit lagi terhad. Kawakami-san banyak mengeluarkan sumbangan terutamanya untuk mengurus artis-artis Jepun. Sebenarnya Salmah mendapat bantuan kewangan dari sebuah pertubuhan persahabatan Jepun, tetapi hal ini tidak dipersetujui oleh pihak artis Jepun. Mereka mempunyai pendirian yang berlainan dengan pertubuhan itu dan tidak mahu terlibat dengannya. Kami tidak dapat berbuat apa-apa melainkan meneruskan projek dengan sumber kewangan yang sangat terhad.

4. Karya dan Apresiasi

Karya Kanzaki Toyohiko di OWOP | 2002

Karya Juhari di OWOP | 2002

Karya artis Jepun di OWOP sangat kemas dan teratur dari segi gubahan yang disatukan dengan alam sekeliling Akal diUlu. Warna-warna terang seperti kuning, jingga dan ungu dari instalasi mereka saling bertindihan dengan hijau alam sekeliling. Karya artis Malaysia pula tidak kurang hebatnya, tetapi lebih kepada karya yang berbau ‘konseptual’ seperti karya Paiman yang berupa sebuah khemah, karya Saubin, Ivan dan Hanafiah yang bercerita tentang melihat filem di tapak perkemahan, dan karya Zainal yang berupa ikatan-ikatan tali di sebatang pokok. Penduduk tempatan berpeluang mendekati dan mempelajari seni rupa dan budaya dengan lebih dekat.

5. Pengalaman Berharga

Penduduk kampong bermain kompang semasa perasmian OWOP

Sebagai salah seorang yang bertanggung-jawab mengurus OWOP, saya terpaksa menyatakan rasa tidak puas hati dengan perjalanan keseluruhan projek OWOP kerana banyak kekurangan dan kelemahan terutamanya soal dana. Tidak banyak yang dapat kami lakukan untuk memuaskan hati semua artis. Kadang bila terfikir mengenainya, saya boleh berkata yang ia adalah sebuah projek yang kurang berjaya walaupun tidaklah gagal sepenuhnya. Banyak jerih yang dilalui oleh saya, Juhari, Kawakami-san dan Salmah untuk menjayakan OWOP. Namun walau apapun, ia adalah suatu pengalaman yang sangat berharga.

I Made a Drawing (2010)

Posted in Other Works by tsabri on February 14, 2011

Event, Date & Venue: AM Drawing Workshop, August 6th 2010, FCM Gallery, MMU, Cyberjaya.

WORKSHOP is a place where we go when we want to make, repair or to make do with anything that we choose.

I came as an artist and a teacher wanting to do something with DRAWING.

‘So today, I want to make do with DRAWING.’

DRAWING is about looking at objects or subjects in a space that we choose to see.

I choose my camera’s viewfinder to help me looking.

DRAWING is also about making marks on a surface, using whatever drawing media we choose.

I choose my computer’s screen.

I choose my computer’s screen as my drawing surface, using iPhoto and Microsoft Word as my drawing media.

When I seek compositions using the camera’s viewfinder; I remembered using a cardboard viewfinder in the 1980s ITM Drawing Studio.

When I turned on the iPhoto and Microsoft Word on the computer; I remembered the drawing surfaces of papers and canvas and more.

When I chose photographs and manipulated them in the computer; I remembered the choices that I’d to make in front of my drawing surfaces, objects and subjects.

When I walked anywhere in the drawing studio, I was entering into a variety of spaces: deep space, shallow space, flat space or ambiguous space – and I even ventured into the virtual space when I started connecting to finish my workshop day.

The traditional and new drawing media (and medium) met and mixed in this workshop.

I am an artist and teacher in the 21st century.

I made a drawing. Didn’t I?

7th August 2010

Drawing the Light Above | 2010

Drawing the Frontal Light | 2010

Drawing the Projected Light | 2010

Drawing Mastura in the Projected Light | 2010

Drawing Marks on the Blue Projected Lights | 2010

Drawing Shadows on a Drawing Paper with the Red Projected Lights | 2010

A Series of Sketches on Books: Continuing The Further Education of An Artist

Posted in Other Works by tsabri on April 17, 2010

As elsewhere mentioned, I was a graduate student in mid 1990s at the DMU/UiTM Postgraduate Center. I enrolled as a part-time student as I was then teaching Visual Studies at the LimKokWing Institute of Creative Technology, Kuala Lumpur. The family was then living in Taman Sri Andalas, Klang, and I have to commute to Kuala Lumpur almost every working day of the week by KTM Komuter or the Klang – KL Express. I attended the graduate classes on Saturdays.

Reading and finishing the assignments then became things of concern for me. I was also beginning to feel free from the burdens of ‘modern sculptural forms’, and as also mentioned, started to experiment with conceptual forms, drawing ideas from the Conceptual Art movement. A Recital, which I made for one of my graduate assignment encouraged me to explore on using used materials or other non-conventional art materials significant to my chosen themes or subjects.

Whilst researching on my assignments I discovered Peter Wuthrich, a Swiss artist who works with books. (ARTNEWS, June 1996 edition).

‘… creating readymade objects and installation that simultaneously mystify and deconstruct this unique invention of the human intellect… A book is a medium with a distinct message. As an object it is, of course, cold and dead. But it is also an active mediation between the world of the author and that of his readers. It somehow has a life and energy of its own.’ (Image of Peter Wuthrich & his work illustrated here is from http://www.galleriafumagalli.com/)

In one performance, Peter blindfolded himself and acted as reading the book which was held in his hands – ‘… All of my works can be read on different levels. I accept pretty much any explanation as long as it seems logical. As far as the blindfold is concerned, the contents of my books almost always remained a mystery. It is not about the contents of my books but rather about the essence of a book – about its general message not its specific narrative.’

‘… each book has its own story to tell, its own message it wants to get across. And although each message is different, who’s to say which is better or worst?’

Inspired by the idea, I made a series of sketches, using books as subject-matter. Published here are the sketches which I made in my notebook.

Book Sketch 1

Book Sketch 2

Book Sketch 3

Book Sketch 4

Book Sketch 5

Book Sketch 6

Book Sketch 7

Book Sketch 8 (photo)

Book Sketch 9

Book Sketch 10

Book Sketch 11

Book Sketch 12

Book Sketch 13

Book Sketch 14

Book Sketch 15

Book Sketch 16

Book Sketch 17

Book Sketch 18

Book Sketch 19

Book Sketch 20

Book Sketch 21

Book Sketch 22

Book Sketch 23

Book Sketch 24

Book Sketch 25

The Further Education of An Artist: Process Studies in Art & Design

Posted in Other Works by tsabri on April 15, 2010

Whilst pursuing my graduate studies in 1996, I made a series of sketches on books – books as subject-matter. It all started when I was doing an assignment for a subject called Process Studies in Art & Design. We were to produce a work of art or a design work: documenting the process and later analyzed it through some approaches as suggested in the methodologies of art examined or discussed during the lectures. A report was to be submitted at the end of about six months study semester, together with the finished work of art or design work.

As elsewhere mentioned in this blog, during the time I was also reading and experimenting with Conceptual Art. The assignment came almost naturally: I have been keeping diaries and documenting my working process since the ITM days in the 1980s. I thought I could further my experiments with Conceptual Art and decided to take the assignment by producing a ‘conceptual’ work of art. Here published a selection of my diary’s entries, notes, sketches and a rather ‘spoiled’ photograph of the work.

A Diary’s Entry: Saturday. 30/7/1996

Sitting in the living room_ thinking about the Process Studies’ assignment. How do I begin? Today was hazy. Looking at the wall: Beethoven was playing _ yes, I’m learning to appreciate classical music. On the wall, there was The Dream-weaver, the last sculpture of the Gunung Daik series.

A Note: Saturday. 30/7/1996

Dream-weaver / 1993 – 1996 / Wires, books, plastic bottles, tobacco and nipah leaves / dimension – variables

The Dream-weaver was the last of Gunung Daik. The making was started in 1993 whilst the family was living in Taman Sri Muda, Shah Alam. I was, at the time, trying to abandon the idea of ‘sculptural forms’ – sculpting out and constructing things. It took me some three years to justify my decisions in putting or using actual objects like the books, plastic bottles and the tobacco, as well as exploring more ‘concrete’ ideas or themes, rather than just drawing on or from literature like the stories and the characters which I portrayed earlier in Teleng, and then, Gunung Daik.

The Dream-weaver was first exhibited in Malaysian Contemporary Sculpture: A Question of Tradition and Modernity, curated by Dr. Tamyes Bajuri, at the Balai Seni Lukis Negara, 1996. The books I included in the The Dream-weaver’s ‘container’ (the bottom part) were W.G Shellabear’s version of Sejarah Melayu or the Malay Annals, Misa Melayu by Sir Raja Chulan and a guide-book on the traditional Malay sexology – Permata yang Hilang. The plastic-bottles, once, contained the popular aphrodisiacs – Tongkat Ali capsules. And the rokok daun & tobacco…

FAN, LAURA. (1997). Weaving A Dream. Asia Pacific Sculpture News. Summer 1996, 35 – 36. Hong Kong: Asian Art News.

A listing on The Dream-weaver (what’s it all about or what I was trying to say):

… the work, the assignment for the Process Studies… may start from The Dream-weaver.

Note: web’s addresses of certain terms and names were recently added to facilitate further references.

Another Diary’s Entry: Thursday. 15/8/1996

A quiet night except for the Jimmy Page’s wailing solo, doing Black Dog on my old cassette player. The Work have already existed – virtually. It should be conceptual, 3D piece or perhaps a wall piece – using real objects. It should be related to education – in some ways. The dream jar has been broken.

An Old Photograph of Exercise Books

I chose ‘used school exercise books’ as my materials – the ones which usually came in brown colored covers with the RUKUN NEGARA (National Principles) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rukunegara) at the back, sometimes also with a multiplication and conversion tables. The materials themselves, the exercise books, carried meanings related to education and ‘love the country.’  I remembered my primary schooldays in the early 1970s, where we have to recite RUKUN NEGARA during our weekly assemblies. There were competitions to look for the best reciter, who then would lead the recital at assemblies.

Another Note: 16/8/1996

Exercise Book: Back Cover

Exercise Book: Front Cover

I’m certain with using the used school exercise books. The idea, the best I can described is that I wanted to document an ‘educational-experience’. By this, it refers to the exercise books where they were actually where we, as students, exercised our understanding through writing or sometimes calculating and even drawings. These books were sometimes not fully used – there were blank pages, and usually they were discarded after a semester ends. We would buy another exercise book then to continue practicing our lessons. The RUKUN NEGARA printed on the back covers was for facilitating us to remember them_ hoping to instill patriotism or nationalism, in some ways or another, at a young age.

Another Diary’s Entry: Wednesday. 25/8/1996

Today I talked about Abstract Expressionism, the New York School, Minimalism and Andy Warhol with Nasir. I told about my yet-to-be-titled work, the assignment, stating that I’m framing an experience – an educational experience, that was.

A Spoiled Photograph of 'A Recital'

HOW OFTEN WE HAVE TO FIND GOOD EXCUSES TO OUR TEACHERS WHEN WE FORGET TO BRING OUR EXERCISE BOOKS? ARE YOU DONE WITH THE HOMEWORK? DO YOU REMEMBER RUKUN NEGARA? WE HAVE USED THEM – THE EXERCISE BOOKS – WHAT DO WE HAVE NOW?

The work is now on the wall. It was made entirely with used exercise books, arranged and tied with wires.

I named the work, ‘A Recital’, referring to the Rukun Negara recitation at my primary school weekly assemblies back in the early 1970s.

(Note: The work is now lost).

Notes: Quotations Referred During the Process

1. Art is an intellectual and an emotional recording of an attitude or an experience presented in a personal manner. The visual arts – painting, sculpture, architecture and other related arts – are concerned with the creative handling of lines, textures, shapes, colors, and space in materials such as paints, stone, and wood. ‘Creative’ implies bringing into existence new constructions through a personal arrangement of existing or new elements. – A. SCHINNELLER, JAMES. (1961). Art: Search and Self Discovery. Scranton: International Textbook.

2. Art is a quality of doing and what is done… the product of art – temple, painting, statue, poem – is not the work of art. The work takes place when a human being cooperates with the product so that the outcome is an experience that is enjoyed because of its liberating and ordered properties. – DEWEY, JOHN. (1934). Art as Experience. New York: Minton Balch.

3. Experience is the result, the sign, and the reward of the interaction of organism and environment which, when it is carried to the full, is a transformation of interaction into participation and communication.- DEWEY, JOHN. (1934). Art as Experience. New York: Minton Balch.

4. Creative Experience – the creative experience is dynamic. It is a purposeful transaction between a person, a whole being, and his environment, a whole context. the process of creation is like a field of magnetic action in which the creator’s entire being is stimulated by a new challenge to his present state of well-being (a simulation), his perceiving of ideas to meet the challenge (individuating possible solutions), his evaluation of possible solutions (interaction), his processes of decision-making (dialogue between self and solution) and his artwork (final visual solution).

Creative Expression – is the result of reflective action on a medium. It results from a process involving curiosity, questioning, inquiry, searching, manipulating, experimenting and formulating ideas into objects… – SAWYER. J. & FRANCESCO, I. (undated). Elementary School Art for Classroom Teachers.

Another Diary’s Entry: Friday. 13/9/1996

Today I worked on the report for ‘A Recital’.

– List of Diagrams / List of Illustrations

– Introduction: i) Impressions. ii) Objectives. iii) Methodology

– Part One: Thinking About The Work: i) Ideas – the retrospective experience, the social experience, the critical experience, design concepts. ii) Resources – readings, monologues, dialogues, talks and gallery visits.

– Part Two: Making of the Work: i) Materials and Techniques. ii) The Making Process. iii) Presentations.

– Part Three: Appreciation: i) Personal Evaluation. ii) Educational Implications.

– Conclusions.

– Bibliography.

The Diary's Page 1

The Diary's Page 2


The Bell: A Short Unexpected Tale

Posted in Other Works by tsabri on April 12, 2010

I wrote a few stories in the 1990s. The stories were usually related to my practices as an artist as well as to some of my sculptures. I published here, The Bell, which appeared in the September 1995 edition of the irregular Tanpa Tajuk.

The Bell

It was dusk when it started ringing. I had just finished working on ‘The Lamenter’ for the day. At first I thought it was just an ordinary ringing from whatever bell of the neighborhood, but when it didn’t stop for about nearly an hour I started cursing and swearing. It rang like a church bell though I’m not that familiar with the church bells’ ringing – I thought I heard a church bell rang somewhere a long time ago. And it rang and chimed and clanged and tolled…

I peeked through the studio’s window. There’s a commotion on the empty ground, about 50 yards from the studio. To my utter disbelief – people were surrounding a huge bell mounted on a strong wooden structure. I didn’t know when the structure was raised and when that blasted bell was mounted either. The people seemed to be looking… admiring the bell. They didn’t seemed to be disturbed at all. How strange… it was ringing like hell in my ears and the bell was not moving. Which bell was ringing then?

I closed my ears. But the ringing and chiming and clanging and rolling… kept penetrating, deep, deep into the ears.

I ran outside towards the commotion. There were about twenty-or so people, circling the bell, the mysterious bell – where it came from? I knew most people in the commotion; they were familiar faces of the neighborhood. But there were a few that I’d never seen before – they must be somehow related to the bell as there’s none in the neighborhood got anything to do with bells. There were no bell-makers there.

I grabbed a youth whom I knew. Some beside him turned, looked strangely at me as if I was interfering an important if not holy occasion. ‘What’s happening? Where did it came from?’ I asked loudly – my ears were ringing, banging. The youth pored over me with puzzled expressions. He answered, or seemed to be saying something. I couldn’t hear him. It kept tolling, clanging, chiming. I asked again. He answered but I couldn’t hear anything. What had happened? It kept tolling, clanging, chiming…

A few gathered around us. They were talking, and I couldn’t hear them too! The youth continued staring at me and said something. I tried to read his lips but to no avail. It was really hopeless. It kept tolling and clanging and chiming and clanking and banging… I began to loose concentration. I saw black. Total blackness. I closed my ears. My ears…

When I regained consciousness I heard no more of the bell. I was lying on the sofa in my little living room. My head was drowsy – there were distant chiming – but it slowly faded away. Everything was quiet – except for the usual sounds of the night. I sighed, wondering who brought me in… the bell… the bell. I jumped to the window. Yes, strays of lights from within the area silhouetted it – it looked like a big fat monster. No more people were surrounding it. It stood there on the wooden structure.

Found myself a torchlight and I was ready for it. I didn’t know what the time was but it must be past midnight. There were no human voices heard, no music and most of the lights in the neighborhood were out. I crept silently towards the bell. There was no moon in the sky.

I inspected the bell. It seemed to be finely made_ a bronze piece! Curiously, I re-inspected it again, hoping to find some clues that could be associated to the ringing and tolling and clanging in my ears. I also wanted to know what actually it was, who made it and why it was there.

Finally I found a small rectangular bronze plate, welded nicely and located just above the bottom part of the bell. I ran my fingers over and felt there were some kinds of engravings on the plate. I shined the torchlight over and read_

The Bell

Sculpted by Tsabri Ibrahim

April 10th 1994.

Hey… that’s my piece! I wondered what on earth have had happened that I forgot all about it. I embraced the cold bronze and started to compose a short poem… The Bell that tolled to be a bell.

September 1995 Tanpa Tajuk

The September 1995 edition of the irregular self-published Tanpa Tajuk, with a mono-print, entitled ‘Simbol Alam’ (Nature’s Symbol) by Riaz Ahmad as the front-cover illustration.

Three True & False Announcements in the Irregular Self–Published Tanpa Tajuk 1998: Experiments on the Approaches of Conceptual Art

Posted in Other Works by tsabri on April 8, 2010

In mid 1990s, I was very much into Conceptual Art. I supposed the interest developed mainly from my dissatisfactions with my so-called ‘modern sculptures’. I found no more excitements in ‘sculpting’ or ‘constructing’ forms; the forms were already expected – for I wanted them to be the way they were, I designed or composed them. I asked myself – what would happen if I disregard the usual way or approach to what I was doing? Would what I will be doing will be called ‘art’? What is ART?

Fountain, 1917

Bicycle Wheel, 1913

I started to look into what Marcel Duchamp was doing with his ‘Fountain’ or ‘Bicycle Wheel’, studied Conceptual Art – the Fluxus, Art & Language, Joseph Beuys etcetera, and more interestingly I have an artist-friend who shared the same interest, Mohd Nasir Baharuddin (http://www.visualcrackers.com/) – we would discuss things related to all those abovementioned topics and works over and over. Image of Duchamp’s Fountain is from http://everydaytrash.com/ and Bicycle Wheel from http://nga.gov.au/International/Catalogue/.

Lets begin with one of the many definitions of Conceptual Art.

In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art. –  Sol LeWitt

Sol LeWitt (September 9, 1928 – April 8, 2007) was an American artist, who rose to fame in kate 1960s for his wall drawing and ‘structures’. He was linked to various movements, including Conceptual Art and Minimalism. He worked with a wide range of media including drawing, printmaking, and painting. His statement on the definition of Conceptual Art as above-quoted was published as Paragraphs on Conceptual Art in the June 1967 edition of Artforum. Image of Sol LeWitt is from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sol_LeWitt.

Next, I would like to quote what Joseph Beuys, a German conceptual artist, said: I know a lot before I start an action. I know a lot about the necessity of the general idea of sculpture, but I don’t know anything about the process in which the action will run. When the action runs, my preparation works, because I’m prepared to do a thing without knowing where it goes. You see, it would be a very uninteresting thing – it would have nothing to do with art – if it were not a new experiment for which I have no clear concept. If I have a clear concept of solving the problem, I would then speak about the concept and it wouldn’t be necessary to make an action. Every action, every art work for me, every physical sense, drawing on the blackboard, performance, brings a new element in the whole, an unknown area, an unknown world.

So, I never have a clear concept for a performance; I only make a decision about tools, for instance, but I don’t determine the run of the action, or the character of the action at all. I never make actions to make actions, as a kind of innovation in the art world, as a new style; but I must say that the nature of the actions as a possibility to arrive at an understanding of art, for the most part was translated into an official modern art style, and again became restricted to the enclosure of an ivory tower, reduced to a traditional view of art as a history of formal innovations without being seen as a possibility to innovate the whole social body. You see that is the dilemma in the art world – but I try to overcome that situation as much as I can; nevertheless, the problem always reappears, and I am always confronted with the temptation of the system to destroy such impulse.

Joseph Beuys (1921 – 1986) was a well-known German artist. Image of Joseph Beuys is from http://www.metapedia.com/. The Wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Beuys stated Joseph Beuys as a German performance artist, sculptor, installation artist, graphic artist, art theorist and pedagogue of art. His extensive work is grounded in concepts of humanism, social philosophy and anthroposophy; it culminates in his “extended definition of art” and the idea of social sculpture as a gesamtkunstwerk, for which he claimed a creative, participatory role in shaping society and politics. His career was characterized by passionate, even acrimonious public debate, but he is now regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.

Image on the right is a photograph from Beuys’s performance/action. The performance was titled as,
I Like America and America Likes Me, performed at Rene Block Galleri, New York in 1974. In the performance, Beuys stayed in a space at the gallery for about three days with a coyote. Image is from http://3.bp.blogspot.com/. A note on the work from Wikipedia (as above mentioned page); “I Like America and America Likes Me” (performance, 1974). Art historian Uwe Schneede considers this performance pivotal for the reception of German avantgarde art in the U.S.A., it paved the way for the recognition of Beuys’ own work, but also that of contemporaries such as Lüpertz, Baselitz, Kiefer and many others in the 1980s.[15] In May 1974 Beuys flew to New York and was taken by ambulance to the site of the performance, a room in the René Block Gallery on East Broadway. Beuys lay on the ambulance stretcher swathed in felt. He shared this room with a wild coyote, for eight hours over three days. At times he stood, wrapped in a thick, grey blanket of felt, leaning on a large shepherd’s staff. At times he lay on the straw, at times he watched the coyote as the coyote watched him and cautiously circled the man, or shredded the blanket to pieces, and at times he engaged in symbolic gestures, such as striking a large triangle or tossing his leather gloves to the animal; the performance continuously shifted between elements that were required by the realities of the situation, and elements that had purely symbolic character. At the end of the three days, Beuys hugged the coyote that had grown quite tolerant of him, and was taken to the airport. Again he rode in a veiled ambulance, leaving America without having set foot on its ground. As Beuys later explained: ‘I wanted to isolate myself, insulate myself, see nothing of America other than the coyote.’

What he said, as quoted, was an answer to an interview question, by Kate Horsfield (http://www.wmm.com/filmcatalog/makers/fm199.shtml), How do you approach deciding to do a piece of art, or in certain cases, an action, what comes up to you before you start to do it? What do you know about it, and how do you proceed?

The interview is quoted from following publication;

FERGUSON, OLANDER, TUCJER & FISS (Eds.) (1990). Discourses: Conversations in Postmodern Art and Culture. New York, Cambridge & London: the New Museum of Contemporary Art and the MIT Press.

I started with Sol LeWitt and Joseph Beuys to note that they were artists whose works and statements became a favorite discussion topic between Nasir Baharuddin (Nasir) and myself in the mid 1990s.

I experimented with the approach – I know a lot before I start an action. I know a lot about the necessity of the general idea of sculpture, but I don’t know anything about the process in which the action will run. When the action runs, my preparation works, because I’m prepared to do a thing without knowing where it goes_

I published what I called True & False Announcements in the irregular Tanpa Tajuk which I published (see this blog’s post: Walking Down the Roads Where I Have Been & The Birth of ‘Tanpa Tajuk’: A Mind Installation) in mid 1990s. The announcements were published as back-covers on some of the irregular Tanpa Tajuk. I looked upon the self-published Tanpa Tajuk as ‘mind installations‘, some kind of an ‘action‘ or ‘performance‘ that supposedly happened in the minds of my readers and myself then.

The experiments were supplemented with an idea of ‘make-believe announcements‘ or ‘imaginary announcements‘, where I announced what I wanted to be true but they were actually false unless I make efforts to make them true. In a sense – I know a lot what I wanted but I know nothing what would happened to audiences who chose to believe what I announced, or perhaps chose not to believe; but then another phase, after-announcement, happened – where I started to think of ‘excuses’ or ‘explanations’ on why the announcements were published. Many who read the announcements later dismissed them as mere rubbish, like Nasir’s expression – Mengarut!

I published here three True & False Announcements that were originally published as back-covers of the 1998 irregular Tanpa Tajuk. Its best for me to first define or rather introduce the names mentioned in the announcements.

  • Kumpulan Artis Jambatan Baru or the New Bridge Artists: An imaginary artists group that I created to gather my artist-friends. I’ve tried to band them together – to stage exhibitions, participate in events etc, but the efforts were usually fruitless, except for two later projects which the name was used; 1. An installation work, A / The System, at Sculpture Square, Singapore in 2000, and 2. Natural Camp Site, in Akal diUlu, Hulu Langat, Selangor in 2002. Both projects (installations) were participated by Hanafiah Waiman, Ivan Lam and Yap Sau Bin.
  • Galeri Matahari Yang Bersinar or The Sparkling Solar Gallery: An imaginary art gallery that never existed unless somebody who opens an art gallery wanted to use the name.
  • The Dead Cyber Poets Society 0r Persatuan Penyair-penyair Siber yang Sudah Meninggal: An imaginary poets’ group that never existed unless some poets wanted to use it as their group’s name. inspired by the film, The Dead Poets Society, directed by Peter Wier in 1989.
  • Full Lunar Agency or Agensi Bulan Penuh: An imaginary production house that never existed unless somebody uses it for a company’s name.

HEBAHAN BENAR & PALSU / TRUE & FALSE ANNOUNCEMENTS

Announcement 1

1. 32 JAM LAGI / ANOTHER 32 HOURS

Sebuah tayangan video 32 mint / A 32 minutes video screening

Karya / By

Kumpulan Artis Jambatan Baru / New Bridge Artists

Di Galeri Matahari Yang Bersinar / At The Sparkling Solar Gallery

Sabtu / Saturday

12hb. Julai 1999 / 12th July 1999

3 ptg. 4 ptg. 5 ptg. 8 mlm. 9 mlm. 10 mlm. / 3 pm. 4 pm. 8 pm. 9 pm. 10 pm.

Terhad untuk 32 orang penonton sahaja setiap tayangan /

Each screening is limited to 32 persons

Tiket RM32.00 / Tickets RM32.00

Announcement 2

2. DIFFICULT SOULS & CHAOTIC NERVES / JIWA-JIWA PAYAH & SARAF-SARAF BERSERABUT

Performances, happenings and readings / Perfomen, jadi-jadian dan bacaan

By / Oleh The New Bridge Artists / Kumpulan Artis Jambatan Baru

And / Dan The Dead Cyber Poets Society / Persatuan Penyair-penyair Siber yang Sudah Meninggal Dunia

Unknown date / Tarikh Tidak Diketahui Unknown venue / Tempat Tidak Diketahui

Admission RM150.00 / Masuk RM150.00 (Inclusive of brochures and refreshments) / (Termasuk brosur dan jamuan ringan)

Produced by / Diterbitkan oleh Full Lunar Agency / Agensi Bulan Penuh

Announcement 3

3. THE PHYSICS OF ART / FIZIK SENI

Lectures, exhibitions, walks and demonstrations / Syarahan, pameran, jalan-jalan dan demonstrasi

By / Oleh The New Bridge Artists / Kumpulan Artis Jambatan Baru

Date – as you wish / Tarikh – ikut suka tuan dan puan

Wednesdays through Saturdays / Setiap Rabu hingga Sabtu

Admission / Masuk RM200.00 (Inclusive of notes, catalogues, whatever tickets, refreshments and postcards) / (Termasuk nota, katalog, tiket untuk apa saja, jamuan ringan dan poskad)

Jointly produced by / Diterbitkan bersama oleh

Sparkling Solar Gallery / Galeri Matahari Yang Bersinar And / Dan

Full Lunar Agency / Agensi Bulan Penuh


How Sir Stamford Raffles Gathered Data of All Sorts and Bought Some 340 Books, and Many More in Melaka (Developing Another Mind Installation)

Posted in Other Works by tsabri on April 8, 2010

What I’ll be writing is not new _ it has been discussed in numerous forums, particularly that of literature, culture or even politics. The matter, which concerns about attitudes of the Malays on education, culture and such, has been something of concern in Malaysia’s cultural, social, economics as well as political developments since decades ago. The Malays has been stereotyped as ‘lazy’, ‘stupid’ and ‘good for nothing’ people’ by the so-called ‘imperialists’ or ‘colonialists’ of the pasts… so were discussed.

Sometime in 2008, I accompanied Mastura to Melaka to setup The Curtain for the Srikandi: Sentuhan Seni Jiwa Wanita art exhibition (on this blog: The Curtain: From Mixed-Media to Multimedia). After putting up The Curtain and some paintings, she went for a meeting with the UiTM girls who were curating the exhibition. I excused myself and took a stroll down the historic Melaka_

Melaka's Google

Old Melaka (unknown)

Melaka 1630s

Melaka 1720s

Melaka 1750s

Undated

I went across the Jalan Laksamana, to a row of cendol stalls, ordered a bowl and sat slurping – overlooking the Sungai Melaka… a boat, an old fashioned one, glided lazily on the murky waters. A well-built mat salleh man came out from a cabin’s door, followed by a teenage kacukan perhaps of Arab and Tamil parentage. The young man wore a sort of tarbus on his head. I was excited to recognized them_ Sir Stamford Raffles and Munsyi Abdullah! Yes, it was them alright… The munsyi boy waved. Raffles gave a friendly smile, and then waved his hands. I waved them back.

At http://www.journeymalaysia.com/, I found them again;

Munsyi Abdullah and Stamford Raffles in Melaka. At age 15, Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir watched as the British Forces marched into Melaka. The year was 1811. British troops were waiting for instructions to be sent off to Java. Stamford Raffles was appointed to be the Lieutenant Governor of Java(1811-1816). Before embarking on a sea voyage to Java, Raffles stationed his army in Malacca where he planned the initial operations for advancement into Java.

British Malacca (Melaka) 1850s

Munshi (a title meaning ‘tutor’) Abdullah’s encounter with Stamford Raffles was to have a very large impact on the boy’s future. Employed as a scribe in his moderate but significant team of employees, Munshi Abdullah was given the opportunity to learn from a man who had an insatiable appetite for learning. Raffles wanted to know everything about the locals…their culture, their history, their myths and legends, their language, their arts and their creativity. He also was a budding naturalist and had a team of hunters and gatherers who collected animals and plant specimens, which were later preserved in jars or pressed into pages (respectively). Illustrations were collated into huge volumes of books.

Raffles collections grew to include rare manuscripts, books, written verses, sha-er and pantun. The people of Melaka then did not understand the value of such books and manuscripts. They readily sold them to the collector for cash. Such manuscripts were written in longhand and were originals – no copies were ever recorded. Other books that could not be bought, were borrowed and copyists had the task of duplicating them. Several copyists were employed for this task, and Munshi Abdullah was one of them. The exposure led him to write his autobiography in later years, called Hikayat Abdullah (The Story of Abdullah). For an excerpt of his views as a journalist and an observer, check out his writings on at www.sabrizain.demon.co.uk/malaya/

Reading above texts made me to remember the day when Raffles and the munsyi-boy waved at me_ later that night in the library I found  Hikayat Abdullah, a 1963 edition from the Pustaka Antara, Kuala Lumpur and reread it – thinking of some ‘paragraphs of concern’ that I remembered reading some years ago, and later found them summarized as above quoted from the site. I found them on page 75 & 76. In the words of Abdullah himself;

Syahdan lagi adalah empat orang diberinya gaji, masing-masing dengan pekerjaannya. Seorang disuruhnya pergi ke hutan mencari jenis-jenis daun, dan bunga-bunga, dan cendawan, dan lumut-lumut, dan barang perkara yang berlain-lain rupanya. Dan lagi seorang disuruhnya mencari segala ulat-ulat, dan belalang, dan jenis-jenis lupu-kupu dan kumbang, dan berbagai-bagai jenis binatang, dan riang-riang, dan lipan dan kalajengking, dan sebagainya. Maka diberinya jarum peniti, disuruhnya cocokan binatang-binatang itu. Dan lagi seorang disuruhnya mencari karangan-karangan, seperti siput berjenis-jenis, dan kepah, dan lokan, tiram, remis dan sebagainya, dalam sebuah bakul. Dan lagi ikan berjenis-jenis. Dan lagi pula seorang pergi mencari binatang-binatang liar, seperti burung-burung, dan ayam hutan, dan rusa, kijang, pelanduk, dan napoh, bengkuang, dan kancil, dan sebagainya.

Dan lagi adalah ia menaruh sebuah kitab besar,maka kertasnya tebal-tebal; maka gunanya kitab itu dimasukkannya segala jenis daun-daun, dan bunga-bunga, dan sebagainya. Bermula maka barang perkara yang tiada boleh dimasukkannya, maka ada ia menaruh seorang Cina Makao. Terlalu pandai menulis gambar-gambar, atau buah atau bunga, ditulisnya seperti hidup, maka disuruhnya tulis akan segala perkara itu. Maka lain daripada ini lagi, adalah pula satu pipa, entah arak entah berandi, ada penuh. Maka barang binatang atau ular, lipan, kalajengking, dan sebagainya, maka hidup-hidup dimasukkannya ke dalamnya itu. Setelah dua hari lamanya, kemudian diambilnya, dimasukkannya le dalam botol. Rupanya, binatang itu seperti hidup juga. Maka menjadi heranlah orang-orang di Melaka melihatkan pekerjaan yang demikian.

Maka pada masa itu banyaklah orang-orang dalam Melaka mendapat faedah sebab mencarikan segala kejadian yang di udara, dan dari bumi, atau dari laut, dari darat, atau dari negeri, atau hutan rimba, baik yang terbang, baik yang merayap, baik yang bertumbuh, baik yang terbit dari tanah, sekalian perkara yang tersebut itu sekaliannya menjadi duit belaka.

Dan lagi pula orang membawa kitab-kitab dan hikayat Melalyupun, entah beberapa ratus jenis, tiadalah teringat. Hampir-hampir habis surat-surat Melayu daripada beberapa zaman, daripada harta nenek-moyang sekalian habus dijualkan, dibawa orang dari mana-mana, sebab mendapat harga baik. Habis dijualkan, tiadalah sadarkan orang-orang yang di belakang kelak menjadi bodoh. Satu suratpun tiada yang dibaca dalam bahasanya sendiri, karena kitab-kitab itu semuanya dalam tulisan tangan. Jikalau kitab dicap tiada mengapa, maka tiadalah tinggal lagi benihnya sampai sekarang. Maka adalah kitab-kitab itu sekelian kira-kira tiga ratus empat puluh, lain daripada jenis-jenis syair dan pantun dan ikat-ikatan dan sebagainya. Dan lagi lain pula dipinjamnya, disuruh salin, ada empat lima orang jurutulisnya yang menyalin sahaja….

Revisiting the paragraphs impelled me developing several ideas on Melaka as a venue or a subject for a ‘mind installation‘. I’m putting the ideas into a proposal and will get interested friends to sit on journeys meeting Sir Stamford Raffles and the Munsyi-boy, or the suspicious and fierce Benggali Putehs from Lisbon, or the Gujarati traders or even the day Parameswara saw a deer kicked his hunting dogs into the (Melaka) river…

Note (illustration credits)

  1. Old Melaka (unknown): http://www.journeymalaysia.com/
  2. Melaka 1630s: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malacca
  3. Melaka 1720s: http://www.colonialvoyage.com/malaccaNL.html
  4. Melaka 1750s: http://www.dutchmalaysia.net/lang_en/culture/pictures_old_malacca.html
  5. Undated: http://www.sanderusmaps.com/antique-maps/asia/malaysia–malakka_17814.cfm
  6. British Malacca (Melaka) 1850s:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Malacca1854.jpg
  7. Abdullah Munsyi’s Portrait: http://gen-s.com.my/sbns/index.(Was it a today painter’s imagination?)

Words & Sentences, and Sketches in My 1988 Notebook: Pekan Seni Ipoh III

Posted in Other Works by tsabri on April 3, 2010

In September 1998, Mastura and myself participated the third Pekan Seni Ipoh. I was appointed as a curator for the sculpture section of the major art exhibition. As a festival for the arts, Pekan Seni Ipoh presented many activities such as art exhibitions, stage-shows, crafts sales and seminars. Artists and cultural workers from Malaysia and abroad were invited to participate in the week long festival. ‘Tradisi, Kemodenan dan Jatidiri’ (Tradition, Modernity and Identity) was chosen to be the theme for the 1998 Pekan Seni Ipoh.

Below published the words & sentences, as well as sketches I scribbled during the festival’s seminar.

Words & Sentences in My 1998 Notebook: Pekan Seni Ipoh III

1

A traditionalist screams

at the cultural imperialists

that dance the people in a monotonous rhythm.

A modernist adjusts his colorful tie.

A postmodernist yawns his emotions away.

An idiot, he smiles.

2

… collisions between tradition and modernity.

… collisions between teachers and students.

… collisions between the old and the young.

… collisions between the realism and the abstract.

3

The green professor, he swallowed them all; the commas, colons and semi-colons.

Somebody then asked, ’Dear Sir, there’s no capital letters left for the bibliography!’

Without words, the green professor locked his abstract back into his folio.

A friend yawned_ the final alphabet flew away.

Sketches in My 1998 Notebook: Art & Cultural Seminar at Pekan Seni Ipoh III

Presenter 1

Presenter 2

Presenter 3

Presenter 4

Presenter 5

Chairperson 1

Presenter 6

Chairperson 2

Presenter 7

Presenter 8

Chairperson 3

Presenter 9

Presenter 10

Have You Been to War, That You Could Easily Painted the War that Happened Thousands of Miles Away?

Posted in Other Works by tsabri on March 30, 2010

Sometime in 1999, I was invited by the Yayasan Kesenian Perak (YKP) (http://www.rumahykp.org.my/) to participate in an art exhibition with a theme of the Kosovo Conflict.

Kosovo 1

Image Kosovo 1 from http://srpskioklop-forum.niceboard.com/.

Refer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosovo_War; The term Kosovo War or Kosovo Conflict is used to describe two sequential and at times parallel armed conflicts in Kosovo: 1. Early 1998[1]–1999: War between Yugoslav police forces, Yugoslav paramilitaries and the Yugoslav military, and the Kosovo Albanian rebel guerillas. 2. 1999: 1999 NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia between March 24 and June 10, 1999,[19] during which NATO attacked Yugoslavia, and Albanian militants continued battles with Yugoslav forces, amidst a massive displacement of population in Kosovo estimated to be close to 1 million people.

Kosovo 2

I turned down the invitation after a few days of difficulties in concluding on what I should do for such thematic exhibitions. I then wrote a letter to a Kosovo artist (or anybody in Kosovo)_ but the letter was never sent, as it was a letter that meant to be ‘something else’!

Image Kosovo 2 from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/ and Kosovo 3 from http://www.usatoday.com/news/. I published here the letter in both Bahasa Melayu and English;

Surat untuk Saudara ku di Kosovo,

Saudara, mungkin aku kenal kamu. Ya, aku pernah dengar suara mu, membaca puisi-puisi patriotik di Pekan Seni Ipoh III di Ipoh, Perak pada tahun 1998. …mungkin kau sudah mati sekarang… bom memang memusnahkan, bukan saja di Kosovo, tetapi tentu di mana-mana pun.

Dan, bagaimana harus aku luahkan perasaan mu? Aku tidak pernah berperang _ yang bersenapang, berkereta kebal dan bom… Bagaimana harus aku melukis kamu dan kemudiannya memperagakannya untuk penonton melihat senapang, kereta kebal dan bom? Bagaimana harus aku?

Tsabri, seorang artis Malaysia. 1999

Kosovo 3

Letter to my Brother in Kosovo,

Brother, perhaps I knew you. Yes, I’ve heard your voice – reading the patriotic poems at the Pekan Seni Ipoh III, Ipoh, in 1998. …perhaps you are dead now… the bombs are deadly of course, not only in Kosovo, but everywhere else.

And, how could I express your feelings? I never experienced any war _ the ones with guns, tanks and bombs… How am I to draw you and later display it for people to witness the guns, tanks and bombs? How am I?

Tsabri, a Malaysian artist. 1999

Have you been to Kosovo?

The Letter

The Studio: A Short Unexpected Tale

Posted in Other Works by tsabri on March 25, 2010

I wrote a story, titled ‘The Studio’, in 1993. It was ‘published’ in the November 1995 edition of Tanpa Tajuk (irregular self-published journal). I published it here again.

The Studio

‘The very first thing an artist should look into is his studio, his working place. It is something personal, you live and breathe in it.’ Said Father, puffing his pipe.

We climbed the steps, trudging hastily behind the monk in the saffron robe. That monk – his steps were certain, showing no signs of weariness despite his old age. I heaved. It’s very tiring. The steps, they were steep and were inclining in a spiraled direction. I stopped to catch some breaths – so did my companion. I looked upwards, a part of the sky on the left was hidden by some kinds of shrubs and bushes and long grasses. We were standing against a sort of a cliff wall. To the right was the open sea. The waters were gray and wavy.

I looked forward. The monk was standing, looking at us calmly. Without a word he waved, asking us to continue climbing. Climbing.

We finally arrived. Oh, what a climb. The monk produced a bunch of keys from underneath his robe, approached the big rusty iron-gate with a big brass padlock. I thought one needed not a key to go in, the gate was so rusty that it would crumble if you just gave a small push.

We were at the back entrance. The monk said it’s the only to get here since the front entrance was eroded away by the sea some years ago. We walked into an orchard, many fruit trees stood half dead amidst tall grasses and bushes. A big mansion came in sight as we took a left turn. Wow… it was big. Bigger than what I imagined when my companion first told me about the place. And it was good too – the walls were constructed from cut stones. It looked ancient enough that a mysterious feeling suddenly emerged. The waves were rolling. And the sound of the wind too… ah, they were screaming.

The monk left us after showing the place. He also told about some broken doors and leaks. Two temple boys would be dispatched tomorrow to mend things, cleaning and whatever necessary. All gardening and carpentry tools could be found in the storeroom. He left me the bunch of keys.

We walked to the front verandah. Found a pair of deck chairs, and sat facing towards the sea. The waves were crushing below. I gave a deep sigh and said, ‘this is good, man. Real good. Wonderful. Many thanks for your help. I like it very much…’

‘Ah… the climb was tiring…’

‘Indeed… it was very tiring… exhausting. Hey, what are you doing tomorrow?’

‘I will be helping my uncle gathering his coconuts, but I could always asked him for a leave, and perhaps also could asked him to come and help.’

‘No… we shouldn’t disturb him.’

‘Not to worry… he knew you. He knew about you coming, to live and work here. He also likes to draw in his leisure times.’

‘Is he? Well, we could asked him, but do not trouble him if he’s busy… you look so tired man.’

‘So are you.’

‘Get some rest then.’

Sounds of the broken waves. Screams of the afternoon winds. Beatings of the heart. Father…

‘Comfortable studios are very important to artists. You surely can work better, faster. In peace. Works done or produced in such studios could reflect who you are – your discipline, your thoughts, you, everything will be much more easier with the arranged tools and furniture and materials… you could save a lot of your time… maintain your studio well. All we want is to be able to work with comfort.’ Father exhaled the smoke. His pipe, his handmade pipe, was wonderful.

‘I cannot work. No studio. Got neither studio nor suitable place even for drawings, ‘he put the mug down and stared absently into space, before continued,’ I got to get out. Got to get out of this damn place…but where?’

Terrifying screams awaked me. The screams, they really raised hairs. The youth, my companion, woke up too. It was dark. Not a star, a light, was visible. The waves kept banging. The winds kept on screaming… with occasional howls. It was cold_ I searched for my jacket.

‘It’s quarter past ten. God! We have been sleeping for hours… ho… its cold,’ the youth was for his jacket too. I stood and walked forward. The wind was salty. I could smell salt.

Suddenly terrifying screams again, but they were louder. I turned and looked at the youth. Scents of roses and other sweeties suddenly could be smelled. They gradually became thicker that I smelled salt no more. More screams with additional feminine seductive voices and noises. Voluptuous female figures were floating and flying and diving in the air! And they were circling us! Fright then began to develop fast! I saw the youth was trembling. Were they ghosts?

I heard more noises and… with a big explosion everything started to recede and clear.

‘One need a well-arranged studio to work in comfort. Never if its not complete… you can always slowly complete it,’ Father said as he put his pipe down onto the rack.

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