The Dari Pusat Tasek exhibition will run at Percha Artspace till 19 JAN 2020. As part of this event a performance was held at the Lumut Waterfront on the 25th December 2019. The Naan Anaiyttal flag was raised on a portable flag stand, accompanied by a performance based on a Perak Malay cleansing ritual. The flag presents the Koboi standing before a 12.2 m hoarding of the once jailed politician who is now Malaysia’s prime minister in waiting, Anwar Ibrahim. This image was shot in Kampung Indian Settlement, Batu Caves, in the wake of Malaysia’s 14th General Elections. Photographs of the Lumut performance will go towards making the 13th series of the Koboi Project tentatively titled Badan Aku Tubuh Negara. The draft of this work can be viewed at https://koboibalikkampung.wixsite.com/sialjambalang
In connection with my show at Percha Artspace titled Dari Pusat Tasek, which runs till 5 Jan 2020, I ask the obvious question – where is the Pusat Tasek Pauh Janggi (Navel of the Seas)? The performance carried out on the Lumut Waterfront was based on a Perak Malay cleansing ritual that purports to wash all the sial jambalang (ill luck and malevolent spirits) away to the Navel of the Seas.. Many sources on the location of the Pusat Tasek place it somewhere in the South China Sea or Southwest thereof. According to Antonio Pigafetta, a mariner on Ferdinand Magellan’s pioneering voyage of ‘discovery’ (1518-1522), there were local tales of an island surrounded by whirlpools, somewhere north or south of Java Major (Borneo), called Puzathaer (Pusat air?) . The location of this Pusat Tasek varies, however, with the source of the myth. According to a Perak legend associated with the installation of its first Sultan, Mudzaffar Shah I, the Pusat Tasek is located somewhere off the mouth of the Perak river, beyond the extensive sandbanks there. This area, named Beting Beras Basah or Beras Basah Sandbank, is known as a deeply magical place – one filled with all manner of makhluk ghaib (supernatural beings).
Pipinya bagai pauh dilayang …. During the opening reception of the Dari Pusat Tasek exhibition at Percha Artspace, Lumut Waterfront on 25 Dec 2019, I had the privilege of serving kueh pauh dilayang to my dear friend Nur Hanim Khairuddin. Hanim is Co-director of the Malaysian Art Archive and Research Support, General Manager for PORT (a Perak state creative agency) and Artistic Director of the Ipoh International Arts Festival 2019. I have known Hanim, since the late 1990’s when she was working for the Pekan Seni Ipoh and we were reunited more recently, when she presented the Koboi Project as part of the Malaysia section of the Singapore Biennale 2016.
The Dari Pusat Tasek exhibition runs at Percha Artspace, Lumut Waterfront till 5 Jan 2020 (EXTENDED TILL 19 JAN 2020). The gallery presents the Koboi Balik Kampung Series as well as a record or residue of the Dari Pusat Tasek performance that took place on the 25 Dec 2019. This performance stems from the 12th series of the koboi project that carries the same name and which is based on two images. The first of these is a shot of the Koboi standing at the base of a 35 ft elections hoarding of Malaysian prime minister in waiting, Awar Ibrahim at Kampung Indian Settlement, Batu Caves. It is titled Naan Anaiyttal.
Hanging in the Percha gallery is a t-shirt bearing the second image titled Rockin Cowboy. This is the t-shirt worn by Sang Nabil Utama during the performance at the Lumut Waterfront. This is a shot of the koboi outside the Rockin Cowboy Western store on Broadway, Vancouver. This is where I got my hat, boots and shirts for the first Koboi performance at the National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur in 2013. I bought one black and one white version of the Rockmount Classic Sawtooth Western shirt. The white shirt is now in the collection of the National Art Gallery. Since then, I have acquired much of my gear for the Koboi Project at the Rockin Cowboy. In the photo with me are Dave Lawr and Danny Kresnyak from the store.
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.