PROGRAMMES / DECEMBER-APRIL 2020

ILHAM × SAM SYMPOSIUM

Main Rupa dan Tubuhnya: Bodily Forms of Play Contemporary Visualities in Malaysia | Budaya Visual Semasa Malaysia

22 Feb 2020 (Sat), 10:30AM – 6:30PM
23 Feb 2020 (Sun), 10:30AM – 5:00PM

Main Rupa dan Tubuhnya: Bodily Forms of Play – Contemporary Visualities in Malaysia is an invitation to think about the exploration of visual forms, and the body politics that they give shape to. Reflecting on art and visual culture’s playful relationships with politics, cosmology, technology, community life, social justice, and the history of ideas, the two-day symposium asks - how have art and visual culture shaped and reconfigured some of our collective and competing myths and values in this country? What are the body politics that make up the kaleidoscope of contemporary visualities of our time? 

Though the Malay word ‘main’ in its contemporary usage refers primarily to the act of playing for the purpose of amusement or entertainment, the word is also historically associated in Malay performing and ritual arts with the power and ability of the artist/magician to assume new roles and forms in order to recover otherworldly knowledge and new insights about the human condition. ‘Main’ in this context heals not only an individual afflicted patient but performs a cosmic theatre that brings balance back to the larger community the patient belongs to. The word ‘rupa’, in turn, localises a Sanskrit terminology for the appearance of things or matter in this world. In the context of this symposium, ‘main rupa’ or ‘forms of play’ is characterised by the contemporary sightlines and strategies of engaging with visuality that serve as social channels of fostering deep understanding. 

Over the course of several panels, speakers will address issues and present projects relating to bodies of knowledge in Malaysian art history and visual studies: contending configurations of nativist visions and migrant inflections in contemporary art; individual lineages of micro-histories in the broader cultural corpus; intersecting strands between communal vicissitudes and the terrain of contemporary art-making. Through presentations from, and dialogue between, a broad range of speakers, the symposium aims to generate critical, meaningful and playful discourse on the grammar of what we qualify as ‘contemporary’ as well as its genealogies. 

The symposium is convened by Dr. Simon Soon of the Visual Art Program, Cultural Centre, University of Malaya.

Admission is free, on a first come, first served basis.

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