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 Koboi Balik Kampung (2013) Readymade from the permanent collection of the National Visual Art Gallery in KL is currently on display at the gallery. This item was a residual artifact from a performance at the Aliran Semasa symposium held at the gallery in 2013. This performance marked my Malaysian homecoming after ten years away in Western Canada.
I appeared at the event wearing a brand-new Rockmount Western shirt with tags intact. As the symposium began, my mother the late Sathiavathy Deva Rajah was invited on stage, to give me a traditional Indian/ Hindu blessing by placing chanthanam (sandalwood paste) and kunggumum (red turmeric powder) on my forehead. Then, facing the audience, I remove the shirt, draped it on a pre-installed hanger at the back of the stage and my mother consecrated it with the same chanthanam and kunggumum. The shirt was left hanging for the duration of the symposium and then presented to the gallery.
A version of the Performance was repeated in an intervention when the item was on show for the first time as a selection from the collection of the National Visual Art Gallery in 2018. My Mother and I were stopped from renewing the markings on the shirt by a curator and a conservator from the gallery. We debated notions of completion of an art work, ownership of an artwork, the artist’s rights to modify an artwork, the extensive conservational bureaucracy that encompases a work of art in a National collection and the effects of all of these on the state of an art work (is it active or is it inert, alive or dead!). Mother and I proceed with the portion of our ritual that did not interfere with what is now the property of the gallery. The image above was captured by my daughter Durga Rajah during this performance.