Telinga Keling (1999)

Telinga Keling, Silver Halide Print, Niranjan Rajah, 1999. Permanent Collection of the National Visual Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur

Telinga Keling (1999) is in the collection of the National Visual Art Gallery in KL. It is currently on display again in a selection from the collection. ‘Keling’ is a today taken as a derogatory term for ‘Indian’ although, from its etymology, it is clear that this was not always so. The items obscuring my ears in the image are Malay sweets which are colloquially referred to as ‘Telinga Keling’ (Indian Ears). More formally and publicly, given our multi-racial Malaysian society, these cakes are referred to as called ‘penyaram’ or ‘denderam’. Ironically, this Telinga Keling sweet is quite likely to be of Indian origin. My mother used to make something that tastes exactly the same that we call it ‘athirasam’

The idea of the piece is that I can engage the Malay viewers regarding this juncture of ‘sweetness’ and ‘derision’ while excluding the others, who would likely be unfamiliar with its colloquial name. Of course, there’ll be some Indians who know, particularly those from Kelantan where the sweet is prevalent, but empirically speaking, during the opening of its inaugural exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, the Indians had no idea and kept asking, ‘Why did you insult yourself in this work? ’, The Malays, however, smiled and nodded in acknowledgement.

.

My Country

8 My Country, Dendang Koboi Gelap Series, 2016

It is the morning of the 31st of August 2019 and I am posting this image from my home in Vancouver (16 hrs behind in seeing the Sun), thinking of Malaysia and Malaysians on this day of our Independence ! This image is part of the Dendang Koboi Gelap series (https://koboibalikkampung.wixsite.com/koboigelap ) of the Koboi Project which was shot in December 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, and Vancouver as well as at the National Gallery of Singapore which had just opened in November 2015 and Vancouver . The photography is by Tan Sei Hon, Durga Rajah and various stewards and visitors at the National Gallery of Singapore. It is a set of 12 Archival Silver-Halide Dye Prints issued in an Edition of 9 and 1 Artist’s Proof. The series consists of 9 landscape images at 20″ X 30″ and 3 portrait images at 13.33″ X 20″.

Cowboys & Indians:Tokyo 2

truth

Cowboys and Indians: Tokyo Edition, to be presented at Courtyard Hiroo Gallery on 11th May 2018, is the sencond installation/ performance of ‘Cowboys and Indians’, the 6th series of the Koboi Project. The first edition was presented at the Burning Man Festival in the Nevada Desert in 2017. The overarching Koboi Project is photo-conceptual work involving installations, traditional icons, story telling and performance elements. It is a transnational epic, presented as the adventures of my persona – the ‘Black Hat’ Cowboy, through whom I present my life as my art, as I explore my identity as a Malaysian, as an Indian, as a British Columbian and as a citizen of the world.

https://koboibalikkampung.wixsite.com/momo/proposal