GANGGUAN began as an exhibition premised on a curatorial exploration of dialogues. Though initially conceived as a three-person exhibition, the withdrawal of the third artist due to her other artistic commitments allowed for a tighter conversation between Tan Zi Hao and Jun Kit to transpire. Both artists have previously shown together in other exhibitions. However, they never had the opportunity to engage with each other’s practices
in a sustained manner.

Part of the curatorial agenda was to let go of curatorial oversight, intervening minimally in the developmental process, and allowed artists to drive the exchange of ideas. In many ways, it is about investigating the possibilities of a conversation and how this might engender intersecting concerns, issues and aesthetics in the practices of two artists who wrote to each other for over a six-month period.

Even if their art practices embody different visions and motivations, there are many overlaps in Jun Kit and Tan Zi Hao’s practices. First of all, one sees a keen desire to re-examine the Malaysian vernacular, informed by their design background and training. Whether these are satiric or critical takes on the aesthetics that shape a national imaginary, their multi-disciplinary practice sites the lived experience and visual vocabulary of the everyday as significant affecting registers to work and think through.

Secondly, never being trained officially as artists or been to art schools, their entry into and engagement with contemporary art is less so dictated by the discursive templates and agendas that shaped the highly divisive, and at times stultifying, domains of art schools in Malaysia. There are therefore attempts to draw more broadly and resourcefully on information on the Internet, testing out horizons through strategic deployment of texts, images, forms to prospect a range of artistic languages that demonstrate criticality, tenderness and at times also humour.

GANGGUAN’s curatorial conceit lays bare the fault-lines and tremours that drive artistic conversation. Included in the booklet are excerpts from Jun Kit and Tan Zi Hao’s correspondence. They meandered chattily through various topics, peppering their sentences frequently with Malaysian colloquialisms,
code switching with great ease — fleeting from serious political issues to private episodes where personal histories and lives are shared. In many ways, the calendric messages also marked important moments where socio-political issues interject their artistic exploration and introduce new urgencies that then tilt the direction of their practice and the outcome of their artworks.

These correspondences serve as an important document of the dialogic impetus of the exhibition. It is also valuable in that they intimate moments of doubt, questing, tentativeness and certainty, driven in equal parts by the sense of curiosity and admiration that each artist’s possess over the other artist’s
work.

As such, GANGGUAN, which translates to ‘disturbances’ in English, posits rupture and disruption as central to the conversational process. Instead of seeking to coalesce ideas into an airtight series of artworks, the discursive threads of Jun Kit and Tan Zi Hao will serve as a curatorial manifesto signalling departures, fraying, and diversions.
 
 
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