Dari Pusat Tasek 9

I am deeply moved by what Hasnul Jamal Saidon has written about the Dari Pusat Tasek show at Percha Art Space, Lumut Waterfront. (Dec 2019 – Jan 2020) in his Kebun Jiwa Kebun Jiwa Halus blog. Our time together in Malaysian art was short but very productive. I believe, however, that beyond our notable collaboration in developing electronic art in Malaysia, we forged an understanding of art that transcended materials media and market. You could say we both had a common interest in the metaphysical and the ethical aspects of art and of life in general. In recent years, Hasnul has developed his ethical concerns in terms of notions of belas (compassion, charity, love). I want to thank Hasnul, for an intimate and penetrating review which goes to the at the heart of the Koboi Project. He has written about my work with the insight of a friend, of a fellow practitioner as well as that of an astute critic and theorist of art. Hasnul has reached beyond the complex play of signs of the Koboi Project, to suggest the presence of the very simple belas that he has been developing in his own practice. Please visit – https://hasnulsaidon.blogspot.com/2019/12/baliklah-koboi-dengan-ayahanda-bonda.html?fbclid=IwAR1Q3DCfH1wh8Z4z_LCBvZPfUujjXkRN6N2ELuylArrJAIcNpKENI6visM

Dari Pusat Tasek 6

The Dari Pusat Tasek performance (View my draft for the 13th Koboi series DARI TUBUH NEGARA) was held at the Lumut Waterfront, under the auspices of Percha Art Space at 5pm on the 25th December 2019. The exhibition will run till 5 Jan 2020 (EXTENDED TILL 19 JAN 2020) . The Naan Anaiyttal flag presents an image that was shot in Kampung Indian Settlement, Batu Caves, in the wake of Malaysia’s 14th General Elections. The Koboi stands before a 12.2 m hoarding of the once jailed politician who is now Malaysia’s prime minister in waiting, Anwar Ibrahim. This flag was raised on a portable flag stand, accompanied by a performance based on a Perak Malay cleansing ritual performed with cut lime.

After my body was ritually rubbed with lime, I faced the East and spit seven times. I then threw the remains of the limes in the Westerly direction  saying, Pergi-lah semua sial jambalang dari badan aku, dan dari pada tubuh negara; pergi lah ke Pusat Pasek Paujangi, (‘Misfortune and spirits of evil begone from my body, and from the corpus of the nation, begone to the whirlpool of the of the Pusat Pasek Paujangi!) Water was then poured over me to complete the cleansing. All the waters of the world are ultimately received at the Pusat Tasek, bringing to its swirl all of the flotsam, jetsam and refuse of the world. The Pusat Tasek of myth seems to coincide with the contemporary swirl of the North Pacific Gyre – a place at which the worst of our contemporary sial jambalang reside.

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/47873/47873-h/47873-h.htm

Koboi Balik Kampung 3

12 KEMBARA LAGI, Koboi Balik Kampung Series, 12 Chromogenic Printed in a Limited Edition of 9, Niranjan Rajah, 2015

Preparing for my Dari Pusat Tasek show at at Percha Art Space, Lumut Waterfront. The show will run over the Christmas and New Year period. It will open on 25th Dec. The gallery installation will feature the Koboi Balik Kampung series which consists of 12 photographic prints and presents a an autobiographical take on the complexities of contemporary Malaysian art and society. The titles are 1 Balik Kampung, 2 Kampung Halaman, 3 Bersama Abang, 4 Restu Ibu, 5 Bahang Panas, 6 Hujan Gerimis, 7 Warga Malaysia, 8 Tarik Harga, 9 Kuncu Kuncu, 10 Taubat Keling, 11 Cukur Janggut, 12 Kembara Lagi. Koboi Balik Kampung explores the notion of returning home from the diaspora, but also interrogates this idea in terms of the complex relationship between nationality and ethnicity. The images were gleaned from my activities in Kuala Lumpur and its surroundings. The titles delve deep into the Malay idioms and expressions.

Dari Pusat Tasek 3

Wayang Kulit puppets – Pokok Pauh Janggi and Ketam Gergasi

The Dari Pusat Tasek exhibition and performance will open at the Percha Art Space in Lumut on 25th Dec 2019. This performance for this event arises from the mythic realities of the ‘navel of the seas’ or the Pusat Tasik Pauh Janggi. Far out in in the deep ocean somewhere in the proximity of the island of Borneo, or even in the mouth of the Perak river, depending on which account one follows, there is said to be a momentus whirlpool that swirls down to the depths, draining the waters into the earth. Also at this nexus, rooted on the ocean floor, is the fabulous Pokok Pauh Janggi that reaches up to the heavens. At the base of this tree, at the bottom of the ‘pusat tasek’, there is said to sit a giant crab, blocking the opening of the drain of the waters. It is the daily movements of this crab, that cause the oceans to rise and fall cyclically, giving us both the currents and the tides.  The oceanic currents are sometimes personified as a regular visitor, the Mambang Tali Harus, a type of spirit who is said to go back and forth from the navel of the seas (bĕrulang ka pusat tasek). Rooted at this centre of tidal activity, this Pusat Tasik, is the fabulous Pokok Pauh Janggi that reaches up to the heavens.

In the Selangor Malay tale of Haji Batu, a man, journeying to perform the Haj, had to cross the fearsome Navel of the Seas, known to be a dangerous and fiendish place (Siapa terjatuh atau tergelincir, tersuruplah ia ke dalam pusar. Tempat menanti segala mara bahaya. Tempat duduk menantinya Nenek Sepit Pentala Naga di Laut Buih Gelombang Tujuh. Kalau si lemah yang sampai, maka hilang ghaiblah ia di mulut Raja Naga yang maha bisa). As Haji Batu’s ship went down, he clung to the Pokok Pauh Janggi, and following instructions he had received in a dream, drew himself up on 7 nails that he drove into the tree. When he reached the top, he found the nest of the mythical Burong Roc (Garuda) that lived there.  He waited therein and when the Roc returned, he attached himself to the bird and flew Westward on his Journey to Mecca. 

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/47873/47873-h/47873-h.htm

Koboi Balik Kampung 2

1 MUDIK PULANG Koboi Balik Kampung Series, 12 Chromogenic Printed in a Limited Edition of 9, Niranjan Rajah, 2015

​I will be presenting my Koboi Balik Kampung series of the Koboi Project at 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. Koboi Balik Kampung presents a very personal perspective on the complexities of contemporary Malaysian art and society. It explores the notion of returning home from the diaspora, but also interrogates this idea in terms of the complex relationship between nationality and ethnicity. It was conceived in the course of my visit to Malaysia for Aliran Semasa {RearView Forward}, a series of events curated by Roopesh Sitharan in June and July, 2013. The images were gleaned from my activities in Kuala Lumpur and its surroundings. The titles delve deep into the Malay idioms and expressions. The series was mainly shot by my daughter Durga Rajah who was my constant companion on this trip.