[Non-review] Wawasan 2020
Worth a check-out: Valentine Willie’s latest show, Wawasan 2020: The Malaysian Dream.
Wawasan takes as its jumping-off point Mahathir’s programmatic vision of Malaysia in the year 2020: a progressive, affluent, unified utopia, no longer “developing” but “developed” – to use an often ill-adjudicated prescription. The show presents a fairly diverse congregation of the country’s emerging generation of artists, a cross-section of imaginaries conjuring “their own future through the lens of the past, present and beyond, taking Malaysia’s plans for modernity as outlined in Wawasan 2020 (Vision 2020) … The premise being that by 2020 Malaysia would be a self sufficient industrialised nation that encompasses economic prosperity, social well being, world class education and political stability .” It “seeks to uncover how do [sic] artists feel about where Malaysia is going given the current socio-political landscape of the country. What are the concerns, anxieties, optimisms, and hopes for the future of Malaysia Boleh?”
The de-suturing, in other words, of faultlines running beneath the level of uncritically affirmative public discourse in Malaysia – the political, religious and racial fractures exposed by even the slightest social judders, so close to the surface of the everyday do they operate – constitutes the chief thematic thrust. Immediacy of expression seems to be key to the most compelling articulations here: Jalaini Abu Hassan’s imbrication of various gestures, materialities and referential orbits in The Prince and the Pauper; the excavation of social invisibility sedimented in squatter sub-culture by Eiffel Chong; Gan Chin Lee’s disrupted tableau limning the contours of various alterities; Anurendra Jegadeva’s iconographic mash-up of personal narratives and marginalized historical and political motifs; Sharon Chin’s installation dealing with outlawed texts, which invites the viewer’s participation and subsequently emits a flashing light and screeching noise, the resultant sensorial trauma evoking in a very visceral way the public histrionics attending the censored object and its perceived transgressions.
Other works seemed less cogent – or remained inadequately contextualized – but the show’s inspiration is laudable.
Wawasan 2020 runs at Valentine Willie Fine Art till 22 April.