Shiela Samsuri

Shiela Samsuri

Shiela Samsuri, 2020, Wandering Collecting Archiving Unfolding (Unfinished Painting)

Malaysian artist and architect Shiela Samsuri joins us for a month-long residency in August 2020, as part of our Southeast Asian Arts Residency series.

About the Artist

Shiela Samsuri (b. 1989) received her training in architecture. She leads R+, a research unit of GDP Architects, which focuses on ways of living in the changing context of our environment and impact from technology. Shiela is also a visual artist, a parallel trajectory that she believes stems from her postgraduate years understanding the language of lines. Her works have been exhibited at many contemporary art shows such as SH/FT 2019 and a finalist of the Malaysia Emerging Artist Awards 2019. At her best, Shiela is a human being who contemplates aspects such as shadows, sun and skin. She has always thought of projecting them into lyrical poetry, the way the late Sapardi Djoko Damono does, although she can never reach such depth (and she’s okay with it). And so she resorted to writing bullet points, drinking lots of good coffee and curating Spotify playlists. She spent the year 2019 collecting tarmacs around her neighbourhood for introspective reasons, however the year 2020 turns out slightly different than expected…

More info at shielasamsuri.com.

Current Work at Rimbun Dahan

Wandering, Collecting, Archiving, Unfolding

A drawing language exercise where one wanders around Rimbun Dahan, collecting things that have fallen onto the ground, microscoping them to understand their discreet patterns (and sometimes unseen lives), archiving and unfolding them into drawing iterations and narratives.

Before Your Very Eyes (an entry for ArtScience Prize 2020 by Academy of Sciences Malaysia)

A collaboration project with a marine microbiologist that draws upon social stratification as exemplified through microorganisms interaction where different characteristics of water is used as a way to look at boundaries and social class. This is an entry for ArtScience Prize 2020, currently on-going, organised by Academy of Science Malaysia.

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Some things are better left unsaid.

Anna Tan

Anna Tan

Anna Tan is currently undertaking a residency at Rimbun Dahan from August to September 2020.

About the Author

Anna Tan grew up in Malaysia, the country that is not Singapore. She is the author of two fantasy books, Coexist and Dongeng, and has short stories included in various local and international anthologies.

When not writing, Anna is the treasurer for the Malaysian Writers Society and heads the group in her hometown of Penang. This really means that she nags them into turning up for write-ins and critiques, then wrangles them into submitting for NutMag, an annual zine published by MYWriters Penang. Anna was once a certified and chartered accountant with a big 4 firm but has given up on annoying bean counters in general. She now likes to annoy other wordsmiths by correcting their grammar.

In 2019, Anna completed an MA in Creative Writing: The Novel at Brunel University London. She is interested in Malay/Nusantara and Chinese legends and folklore in exploring the intersection of language, culture, and faith. She can be found tweeting as @natzers and forgetting to update annatsp.com.

 

Current Work-in-Progress at Rimbun Dahan

Anna is currently working on the first (millionth) rewrite of The Weight of Sin, the culmination of the Absolution duology.

The first novel, The Weight of Strength, is a high fantasy retelling of Samson and Delilah set in a magical Malaccan Sultanate-esque world that draws on Nusantara culture, language, and imagery. Terang has fallen, its people have been taken captive. Raja Muda Mikal must prove himself and discover a way to liberate his people, even while he struggles with his own faith in a silent God.

The current WIP, The Weight of Sin, follows the restoration of Terang two years on. Mikal, now Sultan, must fulfil the Perjanjian Garam to restore God’s protection over Terang. He sets out on his pilgrimage to Suci with fear in his heart and death in his soul—and the hope that his sacrifice will save his people. Tulen sets out on a similar pilgrimage, seeking absolution for causing the death of her brother. But the road to Suci is fraught with danger—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Soon, both Mikal and Tulen must decide for themselves: what lengths will they go to in their quests for absolution? The Weight of Sin explores the concept of absolution—and weighs the merits of simply offering sacrifices for atonement versus obedience to the scriptures.

 

Excerpt from The Weight of Sin

Finding a new job is not easy when your ex-boss has circulated your name and crime to all the nearby restaurants. It’s the third morning since I lost my job and I’ve already been rejected by most of the restaurants near my place. I’m also using too much of my money on food. If I’m going to have enough for rent, I’m going to have to turn to drastic measures.

Mak will be so disappointed in me.

I slip into the back of the Temple, ignoring the clamour in my head as the bells toll. If cursed is the hand who kills, then it wouldn’t matter if that same hand also stole, would it? It couldn’t be doubly cursed, could it?

Not here, Tulen, I tell myself. You don’t do anything bad near the Temple nor near the Justice’s Quarters, not where there are dozens of stern-faced women around who know your name and your face and can read your thoughts, no matter how hard you try to mask them.

I concentrate on the Uskup who is droning on ahead, praying to Kudus for the restoration of Terang, while I try to slide shields around my thoughts. Aunty Rahsia taught me this four years ago—the basics of it, at least. She said that it was important for me to learn, especially with the promised strength of my gifts—and then Mak died and Aunty Rahsia got her dream job and disappeared out of our lives, the very way she told Mak off for doing to us. Well, she’s not a blood relative anyway, just Mak’s friend.

It still hurts.

A Justice in front turns around, eyes scanning the crowd and I slam my shields up. I must succeed this time, because her gaze passes over me without pausing. She looks a little puzzled, then turns back to the service.

What did I let slip?

I suppress my thoughts and practice monitoring those of the people around me. The tall, thin man in front of me is wondering if his wife is cheating on him. The lady next to him, whom I assume must be his wife, is trying to calculate if they have enough to pay for their son’s school fees for the next month. The fat lady next to me is thinking about dinner. Hah. Mak Ros, that nosy old bawang, is somewhere on my left, wondering if that degenerate girl is up to no good. My cheeks burn.

Aaaand this is why you don’t eavesdrop on people.

The Uskup mentions Suci and I perk up. He’s praying for Kudus to confirm the appointment of a new Uskup Agung. I frown. Hasn’t he been praying for that for the last six months? I mean, the old one has been dead for almost a year. I know because he died two months after Telus did, just when he was supposed to come to Impian.

When the Uskup starts on Sultan Mikal and the Bayangan Raja, I take that as my cue to leave. It means he’s about to end the service and I don’t want to be caught hanging around by more bawangs who may or may not remember Mak and ask me what I’m up to these days.

Nothing good.

I shut the thought down and slip out of the Temple. My feet take me to the market, partially because I’m hungry, partially because I don’t know where else to go. The crowd in the market is perfect for hiding me, and it’s not where I’d be likely to find a Justice. I work through lifting my shields again, so that no one can read me. I don’t bother trying to add a covering projection, because that takes too much energy and concentration.

And you’re not very good at it.

Shunting that thought aside, I work on listening to the thoughts around me, trying to pick an easy mark. It should be easy, right? And Kudus can’t curse me twice, right? All the Paderis I’ve ever talked to say that all sins are alike to Kudus so if I’ve sinned once…

The fat lady from the Temple crosses in front of me. She looks like an easy mark. She’s still distractedly running through recipes in her head—ooh, curry chicken sounds lovely—whilst tallying the amount she has in her purse—she has a lot of money. Now she’s thinking about whether she should get pastries for the brat, whoever that is, as well. I follow her around the market as discreetly as I can, but can’t seem to find an opening. She keeps her bag too close to her, makes too many unpredictable moves.

I spy a likelier target. My second target proves a better choice. I manage to slip a hand in her basket and score a nice sausage bun. She doesn’t even notice.

With a little more confidence—and practice—I walk away from the market that morning with enough food for the next two days. No money though. My fingers are not that nimble, and it seems that Impianans are more careful with their purses than they are with their shopping bags.

This is only a temporary measure, I remind myself. Once I get a new job, I won’t have to steal anymore. I just need to conserve as much money as I can so that I will still have a place to stay. I don’t doubt that Pak Baik will kick me out the moment I’m late in paying, no matter what his name actually means. I mean, look at the name I got stuck with. You don’t expect a murderer to be called pure.

I spend the rest of the day receiving more job rejections. One even has the audacity to chase me out of his restaurant. Maybe I need to consider a change in careers.

Hwa Wei-An

Hwa Wei-An

Photo by Nicholas Chung @nicchunglowWei-An has spent his whole life falling down; it’s a by-product of perpetually thinking he can do more than he actually can, whether that meant trying to spin on his head or backflip before he was ready, or learn how to snowboard on his own. And though he may not be the best at those activities, he’s become quite good at falling. He has, in fact, built his contemporary practice around his love-hate relationship with gravity, and the connections this relationship has with the psychological state of flow.

Out of this practice, Wei-An created The Art of Falling during his first residency at Rimbun Dahan in April 2018. This work has since been performed in Malaysia, Northern Ireland, and South Korea. This period also saw Wei-An begin working on translating the movement language of action sports – freeride mountain biking in particular – into a dance form, during a residency at Dance Nucleus in Singapore, with mentorship by Arco Renz (Belgium).

Currently, Wei-An is building on these two lines of inquiry, to develop a full-length solo that continues to delve into falling, freeriding, and the flow state. (Working title: A Reason for Falling)

He will be working on this solo at Rimbun Dahan throughout the month of July 2020.

Since mid-2017, when Wei-An started working as an independent artist, work has taken him to places such as South Korea, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and most recently, Luxembourg.

On top of his choreographic and performance work, Wei-An organises an annual event called Paradigm Shift in Singapore. First held in 2017, the event brings together street and contemporary dancers in an experimental jam and competition, aimed at discovering creative opportunities that arise when these dance forms interact.

Note: A Reason for Falling is being co-produced by Dance Nucleus (Singapore).

You can follow Wei-An on his Instagram and found out more on his website.

Ella Wijt

Ella Wijt

Born in Jakarta in 1990, Ella Wijt’s interest in art began at a young age through drawing and painting. She graduated from the School of The Art Institute of Chicago majoring in Contemporary Studies and Painting. Ella enjoys cleaning her home, exploring the garden and working alone in her studio, walking with her thoughts in rather quiet surroundings, in which everything seems normal, nothing stands out, although the space is physically crowded. Ella enjoys a space that reveals itself over time as she is living with it, not seeking attention but longing for intimacy which requires all senses. Her work mainly explores topics on mythology and womanhood expressed through painting, sculpture, installation and photography.

Ella has been working on an installation project called BUMIDUNIA, a series of research and work that she began in 2012. BUMIDUNIA is the mothership of all her works, where she sees it as a collaborative work between her current environment and herself. It is play, it is a question that leads to another question, it is a challenge, and it is mythology. It articulates history and language through its artifacts, which include drawings, modified objects, found materials and images which become her studies about the world in which she lives. It meanders through re-imaginings of objects that may seem familiar to humans but delve into the uncanny. Familiarity shifts and distorts through material transformations, accessing broader psychological recollections in humans. BUMIDUNIA is also the foundation of her childhood dream – a library and home for collected objects where people could imagine, explore and discover the new. This dream would become Rumah Tangga, an artist-ran space and library in Depok, West Java, where she lives and works now.

At Rimbun Dahan, Ella is looking for new questions while exploring the gardens, learning about plants, biodiversity and their relationship with human beings. Ella hopes to create works that communicate with and honour the land, collaborating with what she finds and learns here. Ella is our resident artist in our Southeast Asian Arts Residency program.

You can find more of her works on her website and Instagram.

Nhi Le Phuong

Nhi Le Phuong

Nhi is a visual artist based in Saigon, Vietnam. Her work ranges from performance and installation, explores themes of human instinct, humans relation with space and time through mixed mediums and familiar objects with potentially metaphorical meanings. Discovering new methods of experiencing art for spectators and broadening the spectrum of Performance Arts are her long-term subjects. Nhi aims to create a spiritual and safe art place where the audience can confront their inner selves and egos.

Social structure is determinant of the individuals’ action, people act in a refined and mature human manner, but there is also the “naturally inclined” self, the “deeper” self – a state of being, instead of a state of mind. She believes our bodies are unique “containers” where our souls live and these “containers” will return to the earth eventually. The only thing that belongs to us is our soul and its connection with the world we live in. Her art practice focuses on evoking critical thinking towards one’s true self and redefining values that shape behaviours within the social system.

During her 1-month residency at Rimbun Dahan, Nhi will be working on artworks about human relationship. The time away from her home is an opportunity for her to gain a profound understanding of the role of human connection in modern times.

You can find out more about her works at her Facebook and Instagram.

 

CC Kua

CC Kua

CC Kua (b. 1991, Malaysia) is a Kuala Lumpur based artist who focuses on contemporary drawing or painting. Sometimes, she just walks around. Born in Sungai Petani, Kedah, CC obtained her BA (Hons) in Graphic Design and Illustration, The One Academy (degree conferred by the University of Hertfordshire). She then pursued her MFA from the Graduate Institute of Plastic Arts, Tainan National University of the Arts, Taiwan.

Through her works, she attempts to make people ‘see’; often like a peeping hole, the viewing experience can be quite exciting, intimate or nothing. Most of the time, she is inspired by daily life happenings including her dreams. She creates casual mise-en-scène by laying out characters, shapes, colors, lines… which is merely to please the eyes and sometimes herself ­– the story comes later, or no story at all. However, when she is very sure of a picture or concept, she transfers it from her mind to a surface precisely. CC Kua views society as a big loaf of bread, while the majority is heading towards totality or meta-narrative (the big bread), her passion as an artist is to pick up the bread crumbs (fragments or values that have been left behind). Of course, it is just a metaphor, she doesn’t eat the bread crumbs…

‘I wander, I wonder.
I observe, I execute.
Sometimes, I just observe and record.’

CC Kua will be our Southeast Asian Arts Residency artist for 3 months starting in January. To learn more about her works, visit her website and her Instagram. You can also read these articles written about her and her works :

 

https://www.thestar.com.my/lifestyle/culture/2019/06/14/artist-cc-kua-exhibition-painting-lostgens

https://www.thestar.com.my/lifestyle/people/2016/08/09/artists-work-to-sting-like-a-mosquito-bite

Deborah Augustin

Deborah Augustin

Deborah Germaine Augustin is a writer trained in narrative fiction. During her MFA in creative writing, she discovered an affinity with the lyric essay and has been experimenting with the form ever since. She draws inspiration from Hilton Als, Leslie Jamison and Alexander Chee. Her work engages with migration, otherness, hybrid and postcolonial identity, the fantastic, and Southeast Asian myth.

In 2018, her lyric essay about immigration and racism in the United States was shortlisted for the Chautauqua Janus Prize and the Writers at Work competition in the nonfiction category. In 2019, she was admitted to the Orchids Without Attached Thighs writing workshop.

Since returning to Malaysia from the United States, she has taught creative writing and creative nonfiction at the university level. She has also taught and facilitated creative writing outside of academia.

During her 2-month residency, she will be working on creative nonfiction essays about family, truth, and monstrous femininity.

You can find out more about her works here or follow her on Twitter.

Afi Noor

Afi Noor

Afi Noor (b. 1990) is a poet based in Kuala Lumpur. She has read and performed in Singapore, London, and participated in 2016 Edinburgh Festival Fringe as part of KCL’s King’s Players. She ran Spill the Ink Poetry Lab, a monthly poetry workshop as part of SpeakCityAsia’s initiative, connecting established local and international writers with budding homegrown poets. Her poems are published in a chapbook called Ten Poems (2012) and featured in Kisah Journal by PUSAKA, Asian Centre Anthology of Malaysian Poetry in English, Rambutan Literary and When I Say Spoken, You Say Word Anthology.

Her current project, She Brings Monsoon aims to explore ways to capture the multifaceted essence of a Kelantanese Malay woman. By taking on the journey to dig through her own personal and shared narratives, rediscovering the vocabulary of the region, and grappling with the twists and turns between tradition and modernity, her poems took on the role to inform undocumented stories of hijabi and Kelantanese. These poems also try to investigate the possibilities – and limitations – constructed within the two languages: English and Kelantanese. These limitations will be further explored through body articulations as a performance poet. Her choice to don the hijab further enforces her artist statement – how much power does this cloth has, and can that power be depatriarchalized through unconventional states of the body?

Afi Noor is here for 2 weeks as a resident writer in our Southeast Asian Arts Residency program. She intends to use the time away from the city and familiar faces at Rimbun Dahan to write new writings related to her personal history. The natural surroundings and the visceral experience of staying in an actual kampung house may help her to be more aware of her senses and body as a Kelantanese Malay woman.

You may find more of her updates at her Instagram or the hashtag #afinoorwrites

 

Works: 

Sambal in Rambutan Literary (2017) https://www.rambutanliterary.com/issue-three-afi-noor—sambal.html

Mother Prepares the Ritual in Rambutan Literary (2017) https://www.rambutanliterary.com/issue-three-afi-noor—mother-prepares-the-ritual.html

 

 

 

Kim Ng

Kim Ng

Kim Ng is an artist and art educator based in Kuala Lumpur.  He works with a variety of media and art forms such as mixed media painting, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, drawing, and installation work.  Kim Ng did his Diploma in Fine Art from Kuala Lumpur College of Art, and then pursued his Fine Art BA honours degree at London Guildhall University, London.  He further completed his MA in Design and Media Art from the University of Westminster and MA by Project from London Metropolitan University, both in London, UK.  He has exhibited locally and abroad and taking part in the International art workshop in Southeast Asia countries like Taiwan and Thailand, and also local artist’s residency. Kim Ng currently teaches Printmaking and Sculpture at Dasein Academy of Art, and he is also the Head of the Fine Art department.

Working as a multidisciplinary artist, Kim Ng explores his concern on memory, relocation and dislocation, social phenomenon and human conducts through various materials, methods and artistic style. Through collecting information and material from the place we live, Kim Ng works with the direct fact that happens around us through various resources to define who we are and projecting the issues and questions in the course of the visual language that associates with each individual’s experience. His practice reflects the subjective way of seeing and thinking in the process of art-making, building up a vocabulary of feelings through materials and its visual representation.  Kim Ng’s works never settled into one way making, the variation in materials, art forms and methods of making keeps him stimulated and engaged with his art-making.

Kim Ng is here on a 3-month residency under our Southeast Asian Arts Residencies program. You can find out more about his works at his Instagram.

Linh Valerie Pham

Linh Valerie Pham

Linh Valerie Pham is an interdisciplinary storyteller based in Hanoi, Vietnam. She is interested in movement, puppetry, breath, pretty words, ugly words and all things magical. Her aim as an artist is to tell stories in a way that disrupts and destabilizes order. Valerie believes in the power of narrative, the tremendous impact of representation and lipsticks. Her works have been showcased at AgoHub (Hanoi), VCCA (Hanoi), The Factory (HCMC), Soul Live Project (HCMC), Center for Performance Research – CPR (New York), Dixon Place (New York). Valerie is the founder and artistic director of Mat Tran Ensemble – an inclusive performing arts collective. She and her ensemble have received support from SIF. Prince Claus, Frida – the Young Feminist Fund and more.

At Rimbun Dahan, Valerie will continue her development of burn/city – a solo project which comprises of semi-autobiographical accounts, forlorn wishes, and dreams and nightmares. The first phase of the project was completed at A Space for Experimental Arts, Vietnam this July. She is our resident artist in our Southeast Asian Arts Residencies Program.

You can find out more about her and her works at her website and facebook.