Off Walls Off Pedestals

A Poem For U-Wei (Whilst Filing Languidly Into the Hall to Watch Wayang U-Wei)

Posted in Wayang U-Wei by tsabri on March 15, 2010

I came across a poem whilst browsing through Gema Tanah Air II, a collection of modern Indonesian prose and poetry compiled by H.B Jasin, published by PN Balai Pustaka, 1975 edition (first published in 1948), from pages 48 to 49. There is a little ‘expressionist-like’ illustration with a brief biography of the poet, Samiati Alisjahbaba, facing the poem. The poem is titled as Gambar Hidup (literally, Living Picture).


Ruang besar ………………

Tiap kerusi rapih berderet

mesin di atas teratur putar

Tapi hawa panas jua!

Langkah manusia tergesa

Masuk ruang ini ……………

mencari tempat baik sendiri.

Gambar di muka belum juga dimulai

Hawa panas makin mencekik

Duduk tak senang, diubah

Tak sabar.

Ini manusia mencari permainan gambar hidup

Tak tahu, nanti waktu pikiran suram masih.

Gambar hidup ini selesai sudah.

(Mimbar Indonesia, Th.II, No.2, 10 Januari 1948)

I read the poem, thinking of the now air-conditioned cinemas and the Kerusi Panggung and the stories that they encountered – and U-Wei, there he was, blowing his Serunai Mentakab, making hawa panas makin mencekik… … (the hot atmosphere is getting more strangulating, literally)… The tiny illustration is simply right. It was stated that all illustrations in the book were done by Mochtar Apin,(1923 – 1994) a great Indonesian painter. The illustrations were images made from relief prints of either ‘linoleum’ or ‘wood-cuts’.

Gema Tanah Air II

The pages

The Illustration for Gambar Hidup


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


Other materials

Arrangements 1

Arrangements 2

Arrangements 3

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.

What I Am Doing Now (Wayang U-Wei Will Be Starting Soon As An Exhibition Hall Darkens Into Becoming A Cinema)

Posted in Wayang U-Wei by tsabri on March 7, 2010

What I am doing now _ today? March 7th 2010. Am still struggling to finish the ‘Theatre Seats’. Che Mat and Pak Rauf are helping. I have yet to do the finishings on the ‘Serunai Mentakab / Mentakab Pipe’. Other ‘Selected Film Objects That Became Visiting Film Objects’ have finished – the ‘Poster’, ‘Monumen Untuk Mesin Penentu / Monument For the Deciding Machine‘ and ‘Cermin Mimpi Yang Telah Rosak / A Damaged Mirror of Dreams‘.

Che Mat on the 'Kerusi Panggung/Theater Seats'.

Pak Rauf on the 'Kerusi Panggung/Theater Seats'

Wayang U-Wei will be starting soon.

Mastura has cleaned up her studio yesterday after spending several days varnishing her ‘women’ of U-Wei’s. The paintings have been stacked and ready for packing – all of them, ‘Zaleha Oh Zaleha’, ‘Zaiton Oh Zaiton’, ‘Cerita Minah Seorang Jogho’, ‘Mana Kak Ina Pergi?’ and ‘Permaidani Ku Terbakar’. Mastura has been working on them for the past twelve months or so, between the many intervals that went for the University, house and other family matters.

Varnishing Day 1

Varnishing Day 2

The Studio After Varnishing Day 1

The Studio After Varnishing Day 2

The Studio After Varnishing Day 2

Wayang U-Wei will be starting soon.

…The movie will begin in five moments

The mindless voice announced

All those unseated will await the next show.

We filed slowly, languidly into the hall

The auditorium was vast and silent

As we seated and were darkened, the voice continued.

The program for this evening is not new

You’ve seen this entertainment through and through

You’ve seen your birth your life and death

You might recall all of the rest

Did you have a good world when you died?

Enough to base a movie on?

I’m getting out of here

Where are you going?

To the other side of morning

Please don’t chase the clouds, pagodas…

(Excerpt from ‘The Movie’, written and performed by Jim Morrison, from Jim Morrison & The Doors 1978 album, An American Prayer)

Jim Morrison & The Doors: An American Prayer

What I Am Doing Now (Serunai Mentakab)

Posted in Wayang U-Wei by tsabri on February 22, 2010

It was in 1978 that I knew somebody from Mentakab, Pahang. It was a brief encounters of some three to four days and I couldn’t remember his name now. He came to visit his sister working in Kampong Raja, some 10 km away from my house in Jerteh. Kampong Raja is an administrative town of the Besut district and there are many government and its agencies’ workers staying there. And at that particular time, Kampong Raja was having a sort of festival and there were stalls selling all sorts of wares, stage-shows and people. I came to know this guy from Mentakab whilst watching the local band playing Deep Purple’s Sail Away.

‘The guitarist is awesome! You know him? A local guy?’

‘Yeah. He is one of the best guitarists around. Hey, where are you from? We have never seen you around before… and your dialect is… different.’

‘Hey. Yes. I am can’t remember from Mentakab. Nice meeting you… I am visiting my sister. She’s living somewhere around here in Kampong Raja. Hey… good song, eh? Sail Away…’

The Google's Mentakab on 22nd February 2010

Mentakab has become a metaphor for me now. Mentakab is the town where U-Wei came from. It is a fast growing town in the district of Temerloh, Pahang. There is a Sungai Semantan flowing through the town into Sungai Pahang.

I would imagine U-Wei as a boy growing in 1960s Mentakab. Diving and swimming the Sungai Semantan (or was it Sungai Pahang?), and running around the river’s bank looking for his future: He found, this U-Wei, found strips of the coconut leaves and made a pipe – a long pipe indeed he made that he couldn’t hear what he was blowing! He, like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, blew his pipe and all the Mentakab children followed him into the Pahang jungles! U-Wei was and still is the Pied Piper of Mentakab!

The Serunai In Progress

The Serunai Parts

Che Mat on the Serunai's Mouth

Pak Rauf on the Serunai's End

The Serunai's Mouth

The ‘Serunai Mentakab’ that I am making now is for U-Wei to blow his magical tunes again. Made from filmstrips of ‘Buai Laju-Laju’, this ‘Serunai Mentakab’ will produce sounds or tunes that only U-Wei knows.

What I Am Doing Now (Mastura & U-Wei’s Women)

Posted in Mastura's Works, Wayang U-Wei by tsabri on February 6, 2010

Mastura is painting U-Wei’s women; Zaleha from ‘Perempuan, Isteri & Jalang,’ Zaiton from ‘Buai Laju-Laju,’ Minah from ‘Jogho,’ the girl-dolls from ‘Sepohon Rambutan Indah Kepunyaan Ku di Tanjong Rambutan,’ and a carpet that I supposed was bought by a woman from ‘Kaki Bakar’.

Mastura started with Zaleha: who begins life, perhaps as an innocent kampong girl that eventually became victim to a series of unfortunate (?) events – lustful love, romance, hatred, and vengeance. She is the girl who followed the man whom she believed will bring happiness to her. She is the girl who was forced into prostitution. She is the wife who somehow bewitched the husband (who killed the man she chose to follow and forced her into prostitution) into becoming a somehow stupefied person. She is the woman who attracts men. Zaleha is full of vengeance and stratagems.

Mastura next looked at Zaiton: who somehow get married to a much older, rich and rather ‘old-fashioned’. She is the woman who knows that she is beautiful. She is the woman who dreams a joyous happy life. She is the wife who dares to betray her husband, an old man. She is the woman who attracts men. Zaiton is also full of stratagems. She is after her dreams.

Mastura started looking for Zaleha and Zaiton’s photographs on the Internet, and worked them out on the Adobe’s PhotoShop before she transferred them on her canvases. She had earlier ordered two 4’ x 8’ stretchers. One for Zaleha and the other was for Zaiton of ‘Buai Laju-Laju’. I would say that these two paintings were the firsts for Mastura in using images of humans as well as landscapes in her works.

Mastura then interested in Minah, Pak Mat Jogho’s wife, who is a strong-willed, full of courage and an obedient wife. Minah is the woman who loves her husband and family. Minah is the woman who stands by her husband. Minah is full of determination.

Mastura sat looking at ‘Jogho’ with a camera. She photographed scenes that she best could portray Minah, listened and wrote down Minah’s dialogues. She later manipulated the images on the PhotoShop and sent them to a friend, Nazri, to print on them canvas. Mastura then collaged the prints onto her composition.

A View from Mastura's Studio

Mastura, next, looked at three dolls that are supposed to belong to Kak Ina, a girl from ‘Sepohon Rambutan Indah Kepunyaan Ku di Tanjong Rambutan’ who accidentally died. These three dolls live as imaginary friends to lonely girls. They bring laughter, funny stories and many more to the girls. Mastura is delighted with these imaginary friends. They (the dolls) somehow provide a surreal ambience to the painting.

Mastura finally looked at a carpet (a red one but she purposely designs it a round shape to suit her composition), or rather a collection of carpets, that in someway or another became a central object of concern in ‘Kaki Bakar’. Carpets are bought in kampongs to decorate the houses’ floors, and have become somewhat objects of social status and wealth. Care and cleanliness of these carpets are important to the women of these wealthy kampong houses.

Mastura is painting U-Wei’s women.

What I Am Doing Now (Chosen Objects & Objects Found)

Posted in Wayang U-Wei by tsabri on February 5, 2010

I listed five film objects that U-Wei chose and gave me to create the works for Wayang U-Wei.

  1. Three cinema seats with some broken parts.
  2. An old editing machine with broken parts.
  3. A broken some kind of projector or camera.
  4. Five cans of ‘Buai Laju-Laju’ filmstrips.
  5. A ‘Kaki Bakar’ poster glued onto a board that has already twisted.
  6. Two rolls of U-Wei previous films’ posters.

I worked on the film objects: shifting things, unscrewing screws and nuts, cleaning, sketching, photographing.

I developed some visual ideas – referring to things that I’d seen and experienced making in the past, as well as speculating on the works to be – whilst working around with the film objects delivered to me.

The film objects have turned into:

Object One: Kerusi Panggung (Theatre Seats)

The three cinema seats with some broken parts:

  • I removed one of the three seats as it was broken, netted the remaining two with wires and gave them a wooden platform.
  • The two seats have been allowing many people (here we can say a couple as there are only two seats) sitting on them.
  • The people or the couple who used to sit on the now netted seats have seen many stories (the films screened) or even made stories of their own in the dark of a cinema.
  • As theatre seats, the two now netted seats have played a significant part in a cinema theatre somewhere unknown to me, by giving comfort for every sittings with their soft cushions.

Che Mat Working on the Kerusi Panggung.

Object Two: Monumen Untuk Mesin Penentu (Monument For The Deciding Machine)

An old editing machine with broken parts:

  • I believe this machine has played an important and significant role in many decisions made by the filmmakers (or editors).
  • It is old. An iron cast and was imported from England.
  • The rolling handle and gears are still working well.
  • I dismantled the machine (which has two separate parts that were placed about two feet apart) from its base.
  • I placed the parts side by side but on a different leveled wooden blocks.
  • I dedicated the ‘now machine’ to the ‘old editing machine with broken parts’.

Dismantled Parts of the Old Editing Machine

Object Three: Cermin Mimpi yang Telah Rosak (A Damaged Mirror of Dreams)

A broken some kind of projector or camera:

  • The broken object was imported from Germany.
  • There are still some mirrors attached to it.
  • There is also some kind of a lens.
  • I believe the object once had a stand or place on some kind of a tripod perhaps.
  • I chose to place or rather tied the broken object onto my studio’s ladder.
  • Now the broken some kind of projector or camera has its own new stand.

Object Four: Serunai Mentakab (The Mentakab Pipe)

Five cans of ‘Buai Laju-Laju’ filmstrips:

  • I chose to use just the filmstrips, not the cans.
  • U-Wei used to tell stories of him bathing in and playing around Sungai Pahang as a boy. I believe he is not to forget his roots.
  • As a boy growing up in kampong, I used to make pipes from coconut leaves to blow. These pipes give fascinating trumpeting sounds.
  • I would like to imagine U-Wei, who grew up in Mentakab, blowing his pipe made of filmstrips before he went diving into Sungai Pahang.
  • The pipe is long that what U-Wei blew in his Sungai Pahang days can still be heard today.

Serunai Mentakab in Construction

Object Five: Poster

A ‘Kaki Bakar’ poster glued onto a board that has already twisted, and two rolls of U-Wei previous films’ posters:

  • I combined the two to become only one object of reference, poster.
  • I rolled and cut the posters to becomes rolled and cut posters.
  • I netted the rolled and cut posters that were placed on the already twisted board with wires.
  • U-Wei’s film posters has become a visual statement that I titled as ‘Poster.’

I am now finishing-up the works with assistance from Che Mat and Pak Rauf.

What I Am Doing Now (Che Mat & Pak Rauf)

Posted in Wayang U-Wei by tsabri on February 4, 2010

Che Mat and Pak Rauf are two friends that assisted me in making the works for Wayang U-Wei. I knew them for several years now and they live not far from my house. Che Mat came from Batu Rakit, Kuala Terengganu. A hardworking man and full of enthusiasm in whatever he is doing. His real name is Mat Ramli and is also known as Awi. Che Mat is a nickname that I gave in remembrance of my kampong friend of the same character.

Che Mat left for Kuala Lumpur after his secondary studies and landed working in an electronic factory somewhere in Petaling Jaya. After tired of working in shifts he opened up a burger stall in Puchong, but business was not that encouraging for him. Che Mat then tried his hands as a barber in a barbershop in Gombak (at UIA).

About six months or so ago, Zainal, an artist-friend, got Che Mat to help him at his studio and gallery (, the Art Room, in Puncak Jalil. I actually knew Che Mat from Zainal who came to know each other since mid2000s when he was selling burgers. He frequented Zainal’s studio, which at the time was in Puchong, and started to develop an interest in art. Che Mat came to stay at the Art Room, assisting Zainal and at the same time learning himself to art, especially with drawings.

Che Mat Working On the Structures for ‘Serunai Mentakab’

Pak Rauf is a nickname for Azly Abu Bakar who came from Sabak Bernam, Selangor. I came to know Pak Rauf through a friend who used to work with him in a hotel in Subang Jaya. According to the friend, Rauf was the name he has known since their childhood, which probably came from Pak Rauf’s grandfather who was called as Tok Rauf. To some family members, he is known as Kang Rauf. Pak Rauf or Kang Rauf is a family man and has experienced many kinds of jobs before ending up as an agent for a property company selling houses and offices. Pak Rauf, who stays about three kilometers from my house, often come dropping-by my workshop during his free times and always offer his hands with my works, especially the wireworks. Most of my wireworks like the ‘Fish Head’ and the hanging wireworks in ‘Archive 2’ were partly done by him.

Pak Rauf Working on the Structures for 'Serunai Mentakab'

I asked for Che Mat (with Zainal’s consent, of course) and Pak Rauf assistance in preparing the works for ‘Wayang U-Wei’ considering the time constrains that I have to encounter as a late participant. Both Che Mat and Pak Rauf came helping – assisting me to prepare the works, which I, at present, call them ‘Chosen Objects & Objects Found’.

Many thanks to Che Mat and Pak Rauf.


Late last January we went for a trip, going through Kuala Pilah – Segamat – Bandar Muadzam Shah to Pekan. Below are two charcoal drawings / sketches done by Che Mat during the trip.

A Drawing of Pak Rauf by Che Mat.

Tasik Chini, a Drawing by Che Mat

What I Am Doing Now (Selected Film Objects Becoming Visiting Film Objects)

Posted in Wayang U-Wei by tsabri on February 4, 2010

30th December 2009. Nishino came with the Tanah Licin (U-Wei’s production house) boys to deliver me the film objects that U-Wei had selected.

Unloading the Film Objects

The film objects selected for me are; three cinema seats with some broken parts, an old editing machine, a broken some kind of projector or camera, five cans of ‘Buai Laju-Laju’ filmstrips, a ‘Kaki Bakar’ poster glued onto a board that has already twisted and two rolls of his previous films’ posters. The film objects brought over to me are not found objects. U-Wei didn’t found them: he instead chose them from his experience as a filmmaker. The film objects are familiar to him, but not to me. I, however, didn’t found the film objects: the film objects are brought to me. They came visiting me as selected film objects. I arranged them in my workshop. They are not my found objects. The films objects found me instead!

The three cinema seats with some broken parts found me:
“These are the First Class seats.”
“Yes? Really? Are you sure? Not from the Royal Circle?”
“No. The Royal Circle’s are much more smooth, softer.”
“We’ll bring these home… they are suitable for a swing.”
“Hmm… a swing under the big tree.”

The old editing machine found me:
“What you think this is?”
“The wood is hard. Good for a carving….”
“See… it has a rolling handle. Its here I think they place the filmstrip.”
“This wood… I can carve out a small column.”

The broken some kind of projector or camera found me:
“There are mirrors. There is some kind of a lens here”
“It’s strongly built.”
“It’s broken.”

The five cans of ‘Buai Laju-Laju’ filmstrips found me:
“I saw Goddard in a photograph with round cans like this.”
“Who? Somebody I know? These cans are beautiful, they are round.”
“What’s this? Hmm… What can we do with these filmstrips?”
“You can weave them into some sort of a costume.”
“And we will ask U-Wei to wear it during his exhibition’s reception…”

The ‘Kaki Bakar’ poster glued onto a board that has already twisted found me:
“Stern. His face is very stern.”
“If this is Bollywood, I believe he will be good in the singing and dancing.”

The two rolls of his previous films’ posters found me:
“Look at these. Look at these papers…”
“They are posters…”
“Poster, yes. Look at the actor and actress.”
“Posters, they are not… poster are meant to be displayed!

Kaki Bakar Poster & Cans of Buai Laju-Laju in My Study

A Broken Some Kind of Projector or Camera

The selected film objects and I began to know each other better.

What I Am Doing Now: An Art Gallery and a Cinema

Posted in Wayang U-Wei by tsabri on January 14, 2010

I am working on an art project by the filmmaker, U-Wei Hajisaari (after this, U-Wei) since the last two weeks. U-Wei is organizing a project which he called “Wayang U-Wei dalam Seni Tampak” to be held at the Galeri Petronas sometime in April 2010. He has invited about 13 artists to interpret or develop his films (read, ideas) into visual art forms like painting, sculpture, prints or installation. He is also talking about converting the gallery space into some kind of a cinema and vice-versa, commenting on the similarities and differences of the two.

I heard about the project sometime early last year when Mastura, received an invitation to participate in the project from Gambar Tanah Licin, U-Wei’s film company. Mastura agreed to participate as she takes the invitation somewhat an opportunity to break away from the “Interiors” which has haunted her since the 1980s! The other reason was, we simply like U-Wei’s films and I was excited to see Mastura was drawing figures and landscapes – something that she never did in the “Interiors”.

Mastura A. Rahman | House of Flowers/House of Harmony | Mixed Media on Canvas | 1999 | 8 x 12 feet | NAG Collection

About some six or seven months later, Mastura succeeded making two 4’ x 8’ mixed media paintings. The paintings, titled “Zaleha Oh Zaleha” and “Zaiton Oh Zaiton”, were respectively based on U-Wei’s “Perempuan, Isteri dan Jalang” and “Buai Laju-Laju”. Mastura was anxious, as apart from first time drawing figures and landscapes into her works, she was also curious about audiences’ responses to her illustrative renditions of the films. During this time, U-Wei visited our studio-house to discuss the project’s progress with Mastura. U-Wei first visited our studio-house sometime in 2003 when he came for my “Lets Have Another War”, a wire sculpture that I exhibited at the “Bara Hati Bahang Jiwa” exhibition, National Art Gallery, 2002.


U-Wei Hajisaari | Perempuan, Isteri dan Jalang (Film still) | 1993 | 109 minutes

After the visit, U-Wei acquired one of the Mastura’s early “Interiors”, which she did in Jerteh in 1988. Then, U-Wei and myself started writing and commenting each other works. I visited him several times at his office in Danau Kota, talking about almost anything on the arts and culture. He was just beginning to work on his latest film, “Hanyut”, and it was at his office that I met Nishino, a Japanese architect-friend of U-Wei, who is designing a space to house U-Wei’s office and cinema, art collections, books and his other collections.

Conversations with U-Wei eventually brought up the idea of collaborating on making something for his exhibition-project. U-Wei was wondering how I would react to objects if he gave me certain film objects to work on, referring perhaps to the way the Dadaists and Surrealists did with their ‘found objects’ , and the wrapped objects of Christo and Jean-Claude. I thought it would be interesting as I had before experimented with “found objects” in some of my on-site installations. Thence I joined the project, rather as a late participant who is now hurrying to finish the works.

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