OUR ArtProjects is excited to present chi too's new series of photographs titled The Artist chi too Looks At Artworks As He Contemplates the State of the Nation's Institutions a.k.a. How Can You Be Sure. Riffing off an installation display of secondary school girl pinafores by Yee I-Lann for Kedai Commemorate, chi too is seen to be cross-dressing in one of these turquoise pinafores. As he wanders through Publika, he cheekily poses in front of both artworks from the official exhibition Selamat Hari Malaysia M50 (Happy Malaysia Day M50), organised by the National Visual Arts Gallery held at MAP KL as well as a collateral exhibition of more political charged works that were held in the adjacent Art Row.
Taking on the guise of a viewer, we see him in various poses, suggesting both moments of contemplation as he trains his attention on a work of art, and at other times, slyly acknowledging the presence of the camera. Though the titles of his photographs stage this performative intervention on an apologetic note, the campy theatrics belie the controversy that visited upon the exhibition. Shortly after opening, an offended viewer lodged a police report over an artwork which he felt to have offended his religious sensibility. This resulted in the removal of the artwork from the exhibition, the absence of which was commented upon in one of chi too's photographs. The event made national news and the artist was left to fend for himself with little support from the National Visual Arts Gallery.
The Artist chi too Looks At Artworks As He Contemplates the State of the Nation's Institutions a.k.a. How Can You Be Sure registers the cracks and fissures within an institutional narrative of Malaysian art. The work highlights moments of complicity, tensions, solidarity and potentials in an exhibition narrative that sought to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of Malaysia's formation. By inviting us to relook at works of art through the eyes of a secondary school girl, chi too makes visible the pedagogical and ideological impulses embedded within the exhibition form. The photographs question whether the exhibition and event surrounding the celebration of Malaysia's 50th year conveyed any true recognition of a sense of nationhood in all of her complexities as she comes of age, or does it simply perpetuate the familiar Peninsular-centric sense of entitlement as captured in I-Lann's name tag pinned to the pinafore that reads, 'Malaysia is Dead! Long Live Malaya!'?
The artist would like to acknowledge that the pinafore and name tag were generously given by Yee I-Lann. The outfit was part of her installation for Kedai Commemorate, an installation project that examined the politics of remembering Malaysia's founding in 1963.
chi too: THE ARTIST CHI TOO LOOKS AT ARTWORKS
AS HE CONTEMPLATES THE STATE OF THE NATION’S INSTITUTIONS
A.K.A. HOW CAN YOU BE SURE runs from
23rd November - 1st December 2013 at:
ART ROW @ PUBLIKA
1 Jalan Dutamas 1, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Monday - Sunday 12 - 6 pm
In collaboration with Fergana Art