8 DECEMBER 2019 - 12 APRIL 2020

The Body Politic and the Body


ILHAM x SAM Project: The Body Politic and the Body

8 December 2019 – 12 April 2020 (Level 5)


ILHAM Gallery and Singapore Art Museum (SAM) present ILHAM x SAM Project: The Body Politic and the Body from 8 December 2019 to 12 April 2020. The first collaboration between ILHAM and SAM, it explores the many facets of contemporary art and its genealogies in Malaysia. The Body Politic and the Body is conceived as a dialogue between works and features 7 artworks from SAM’s collection alongside a new commission, artwork adaptations and loans from Malaysian artists. 

As the title suggests, the body is central to the exhibition, which explores the tension between the socio-political body of Malaysian society, imagined as a collective entity, and the individual, subjective body. From SAM’s collection, the exhibition includes Recollections of Long Lost Memories by Ahmad Fuad Osman, Bayu Utomo Radjikin’s Lang Kacang, Dalam by Simryn Gill, The Voyage by Mohammad Din Mohammad, Quiet Rooms by Nadiah Bamadhaj, Redza Piyadasa’s iconic work May 13, 1969, and The Grand Phantom Narrates by Yap Sau Bin.

In response to these works in the exhibition is a commission of a performance piece by Chia Chuyia, as well as works on loan by chi too, Yee I-Lann, Hasanul Isyraf Idris, and Wong Hoy Cheong. They imagine the anxieties and subjectivities of the singular body as it is experienced in contemporary Malaysia, extending and engaging with convergent and divergent aesthetic expressions. 

This collaborative project seeks to reflect the broad landscape of art-making in Malaysia today, as well as address the lineages of those art historical trajectories. In this spirit, the exhibition is accompanied by the symposium, “Main Rupa dan Tubuhnya: Bodily Forms of Play Contemporary Visualities in Malaysia | Budaya Visual Semasa Malaysia”, which will take place from 22 to 23 February 2020. The symposium will provide a critical space to examine the ecology of contemporary visuality in Malaysia. Over the course of several panels, participants will address issues and present projects relating to bodies of knowledge in Malaysian art history and visual studies.

The exhibition also contains an extensive reading zone, created specially for students, made up of publications and articles relating to modern and contemporary art in Malaysia. 

To complement the exhibition, a programme of experimental short videos curated by Kok Siew-Wai, titled Portraits.Stories.Beneath, is also featured. The first section, Portraits, will showcase works that explore the unreliability of first impressions and changing perceptions of physical appearances. The second, Stories, will examine the phenomenon of narratives, while the third, Beneath, includes works which take a closer look at the unseen realities hidden under external appearances. There will also be a second moving image programme which will be screened on 22 and 29 March 2020. This programme serves to further the thematic engagements and reflections explored in the exhibition and symposium.