The Dari Pusat Tasek exhibition will run at Percha Artspace, Lumut Waterfront till 19 JAN 2020. Hanging in the Percha gallery is a t-shirt bearing an image titled Rockin Cowboy. This is the t-shirt was worn by Sang Nabil Utama during the performance at the Lumut Waterfront on 25 Dec 2020. The image was shot outside the Rockin Cowboy Western store at 106 East Broadway, Vancouver. This is where I got my cattleman hat, my roper boots and spurs and my Rockmount Classic Sawtooth Western shirts for the first Koboi performance at the National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur in 2013. One of these shirts is now in the collection of the National Art Gallery.
Since that first Koboi Balik Kampung performance, I have passed many a Western hour at the Rockin’ Cowboy with Dave Lawr (Cowboy Dave) and Danny Kresnyak (Rock n Roll is in the House!). The store used to be a mere city block away from my apartment at Quebec and 7th, Vancouver but it has now moved further West to new premises at 118 West Broadway, just a few blocks from the original location.
The Dari Pusat Tasek exhibition will run at Percha Artspace till 19 JAN 2020, ‘Dari Pusat Tasek” is the title of the 12th series in the Koboi Project, which includes a photograph titled Naan Anaiyttal taken in Kampung Indian Settlement, Batu Caves. It presents the Koboi standing before a 12 meter cutout of formerly jailed Deputy Prime Minister and Parti Keadilan leader Anwar Ibrahim. The Koboi stands gesturing forwards and upwards with a green skinned mango in his right hand. The cutout was initially erected around the 2008 election but taken down in the midst of a political/religious controversy about wastage/idolatry and fears that the structure would be a danger to the public in unfavourable weather conditions. It was put up again for the the 14th general election which took place in May 2018.
The Koboi photograph was taken in 2018. Naan Anaiyttalis title of a song from M G Rmachandran’s hit film Enga Veettu Pillai (1965). MGR was of course to become the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and the song has populist and egalitarian theme. Anwar Ibrahim, in turn, is in line, however tenuously, to become the next Prime Minister of Malaysia next Prime Minister. Here are the lyrics of the song in Tamil, English, Malay and finally in Anwar Ibrahim’s own elegant translation –
The Dari Pusat Tasek show runs at the Percha Art Space in Lumut till the 5th Jan 2020 (EXTENDED TILL 19 JAN 2020).
In the Hikayat Jaya Langkara, a quest for the healing saffron flower leads the Princess Ratna Kasina to a mountain at the pusat tasek where the rising tide brings the miraculous flower up within her reach. While there is no mention of the Pokok Pauh Janggi in this fable, the buah Pauh appears twice in the list of similes used to extoll the beauty of Princess. Princess Ratna Kasina is said to have cheeks like sliced mango (pipi-nya saperti pauh di-layang), and heels like turned (or peeled) mango (tumit-nya saperti pauh di-larek).
For the opening reception of the show at Percha Art Space, Percha Director, Suhaila Hashim, steamed her first Kueh Pauh Dilayang after experimenting with recipes found online. The cake was sliced (dilayang) and served to locate the mango within Malay mythology and aesthetics, and to articulate the core symbolism of the Dari Pusat Tasek happening which includes –
a performance based the mythic realities of the ‘navel of the seas’ or the Pusat Tasik Pauh Janggi.
a gallery installation featuring the Koboi Balik Kampung series of 12 photographic prints and presents an autobiographical take on the complexities of contemporary Malaysian art and society.
and the serving of this rare Kelantan sweet – the Kueh Pauh Dilayang.
I will be having an exhibition at the Percha Art Space in Lumut over the Christmas and New Year period. The show, titled Dari Pusat Tasek, will open on 25th Dec and run for 2 weeks (EXTENDED TILL 19 JAN 2020). There will be an impromptu street performance, carried out as part of this exhibition, based on the malay myth of the ‘navel of the seas’. According to Malay folklore, far out in the deep ocean, there is a great whirlpool known as the ‘Pusat Tasek’. At the centre of this whirlpool, there is an enormous tree known as the Pokok Pauh Janggi. The name janggi, probably, derives from the Toroja word ‘djjandji’ which means ‘fruit’. ‘Pauh’ is the Malay word for ‘mango’ and it is likely that ‘Pokok Pauh Janggi’ is, in fact, a mango tree and not a coco de mer palm as the contemporary usage of the name would suggest.
In the Hikayat Jaya Langkara, a quest for the healing saffron flower leads the Princess Ratna Kasina to a mountain at the pusat tasek where the rising tide brings the miraculous flower up within her reach. While there is no mention of the Pokok Pauh Janggi in this fable, the buah Pauh appears twice in the list of similes used to extoll the beauty of Princess. Princess Ratna Kasina is said to have cheeks like sliced mango (pipi-nya saperti pauh di-layang), and heels like turned (or peeled) mango (tumit-nya saperti pauh di-larek) –
“dahi-nya bagai bintang timor, hidong-nya bagai melor jantan, pipi-nya saperti pauh di-layang, telinga-nya saperti telepok laboh, rambutnya saperti mayang mengurai,kening saperti taji di-bentuk dan gigi-nya saperti saga merekah, dagu-nya saperti telur burung, pinggang-nya saperti pingang-nya kerengga, kaki-nya saperti kaldai dan tumit-nya saperti pauh di-larek, lengan-nya buntaran, dan betis-nya bagai bunting padi”.
In making my black jelly offering to Phra Rahu I learnt a Kata Bucha or (Gatha Pooja in Sanskrit.) Kata is the Thai term for an Incantation or Prayer used instrumentally in worship, veneration, invocation and magic. I learnt the Kata Prha Rahu Kam Duang to recite as part of my offering to Rahu from Ajarn Spencer’s online teaching. Phra Hanuman, presented by Jariya Laoriendee, is watching the ritual offering of Suriyan (the Sun) to Phra Rahu . Of course it in the tussle for the Sun (which the young Hanuman thought was a mango) with Rahu that Hanuman got his name – Broken Jaw!
Hiroyoshi Takeda, Shinji Kashima and I about to go on stage to perform my Cowboys and Indians: Tokyo Edition at Courtyard Hiroo Gallery, on 11th May 2018. (It was as if we had our own early Kaala opening!!) In this installation/ performance I developed my on-going theme of the mango in Indian mythology while engaging with Japanese myth and traditions via of the legend of Momotaro (the Peach Boy). During the performance, I presented an antique Momotaro doll and develop an association between Indian and Japanese symbolism centered on the substitution of the peach for the mango.