Props, Performing, Performance: Tracing Early Performance Art in 1990s Malaysia
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
Video documentation by Asia Art Archive in America
This talk by art historian Sarena Abdullah explores a period of time in the mid-1990s when Malaysia witnessed the merger of interdisciplinary explorations between two main artistic fields, i.e. fine arts and performing arts. What started with the involvement of fine artists in prop-making, later evolved into various forms of collaborations and experimentation that can be considered the earliest examples of “performance art” in Malaysia.
Abdullah focuses on selected ‘visual-performances’ in collaboration with Five Arts Centre – among them Two Installations (1991), Alter Art (1991), Warbox, Lalang, Killing Tools (1994) and Skin Trilogy (1995). By highlighting connections between modern artistic practice, performance, and installation, this presentation examines these collaborative experiments and explorations within the context of recent Malaysian art history. Following her lecture, Abdullah is joined in discussion by Dr. Nora Taylor, Alsdorf Professor of South and Southeast Asian Art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Sarena Abdullah, Ph.D is an art historian and current Deputy Dean (Research, Innovation and Community-Industry Engagement) at the School of the Arts, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). She was awarded the inaugural London, Asia Research Award by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art (PMC) and Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong in 2017. She is also an alumni of the CAA-Getty International Program. Her book on Malaysian art, Malaysian Art since the 1990s: Postmodern Situation (2018), was recently published by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. She is the co-editor of Ambitious Alignments: New Histories of Southeast Asian Art 1945-1990 (2018) published by the Power Institute and the National Gallery Singapore.
Dr. Nora Annesley Taylor is the Alsdorf Professor of South and Southeast Asian Art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the author of Painters in Hanoi: An Ethnography of Vietnamese Art (Hawaii 2004 and Singapore 2009), co-editor of Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art, An Anthology (Cornell SEAP 2012) and numerous articles on Contemporary Vietnamese and Southeast Asian Art. In 2013 she was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship to conduct research on the politics of Performance art in Singapore, Vietnam and Myanmar. She has curated two exhibitions: “12,756.3: Breathing is Free by Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba,” SAIC and ASU Art Museum 2010, and “Changing Identity: Recent Work by Women Artists from Vietnam” that toured 10 venues in the US in 2007-2009. Her research and teaching interests include Artists and Archives, Performance Art, and Contemporary Asian Art.
Image: Selected catalogues and brochures of the early 1990s interdisciplinary experimentations in Malaysia.