What started out as a 3-country show has now included another one, Singapore, and that was how I found myself in Balai Seni Lukis Negara (National Art Gallery Malaysia) for the opening of ARTRIANGLE 2010. Invited by the exhibition’s organiser, the MATAHATI group, I had selected a group of 10 local artists to participate in the show’s third edition. The second edition in 2008 had featured 5 Singaporean artists who were mostly, if not all, affiliated to the Angkatan Pelukis Aneka Daya (APAD) group.
Talking to the project director, Bayu Utomo Radjikin (artist and part of the renowned Malaysian art collective, MATAHATI), he mentioned that the idea for ARTRIANGLE came about due to the lack of ‘ready’ funds to assist the community in times of need, for example the victims of the Tsunami disaster in 2004. Various artists communities from the region had then banded together to help the victims of the under-sea earthquake which occurred off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.
Besides humanitarian causes, the need to have this ‘ready’ fund also serves MATAHATI’s intention to contribute back to the art scene that they have been a part of, since the late eighties. Thus the formation of the MATAHATI Art Fund channels funds towards the welfare of artists in need and also realizing art projects or initiatives.
Walking through the exhibition opening, one will have a feeling that the exhibition has multiple meanings for various layers of the audience. Art collectors would see this as another opportunity to expand their collection and at the same time, contributing to the MATAHATI Art Fund. While the general audience was just there to see works of art, curators and fellow
artists viewed this as an opportunity to update themselves of the latest up-and-coming artists coming out from the region.
In Beverly Yong’s introductory essay (Getting to Know the Neighbourhood) in the exhibition’s catalogue, she mentioned the importance of fostering regional links between various artistic communities which would lead to the understanding of multiple artistic practices, existing in multiple contexts. Bayu reinforced this point by saying that even though the participating artists might know each other and relations might be warm, there must be a ‘working relationship’. This is becoming increasingly important as artistic endeavours offer another form of collaboration with our ASEAN neighbours, besides the usual political-economic ties.
Beverly’s essay also mentioned the role of the Artists Village in Singapore’s visual art developments. No doubt their role has been pivotal in forwarding ‘alternative’ discourses, other artists have also made their mark thus ARTRIANGLE offers a platform to feature emerging artists and those who might have been sidelined from the dominant discourse.
On that note, the next ARTRIANGLE promises to be another landmark in its young history. In the pipelines are plans for it to take place in Jogjakarta under the auspices of Seni Rumah Tenggara and supported by House of MATAHATI in Malaysia. As ARTRIANGLE evolves in its venue and scale, one can only look forward to the humble beginnings of this project and observe how a ‘collective’ mindset can make things happen and foster new initiatives to elevate the status of contemporary Southeast Asian art.
Syed Muhd Hafiz is an independent art curator/ writer. His interests lie in the fields of visual culture and social-political issues in Southeast Asia. He collaborated with Artriangle under the curatorial collective, Wunderspaze.
ARTRIANGLE was held at the National Art Gallery Malaysia from 7 July – 7 August 2010.
For more information visit http://matahati-artriangle.blogspot.com/
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