Nirmala Dutt: Statements



27 AUGUST 2023 (11:00 AM – 12:00 PM)
Exhibition walkthrough with the curators, Beverly Yong, Rahel Joseph, Snow Ng and Ellen Lee


9 SEPTEMBER 2023 (5:30 PM – 6:30 PM)
Panel Discussion in conjunction with the Southeast Asian Arts Censorship database project

In 1986, Nirmala Dutt's two artworks Friends in Need and Save the Seed that will Save the Black People were removed from the exhibition Side by Side, a British-Malaysian contemporary art exhibition held at the National Art Gallery Malaysia. The removal of both works by an overzealous official from the Malaysian-British Society before the opening ceremony was condemned by the arts community before Syed Ahmad Jamal, the then-Director of National Art Gallery ordered the works to be reinstated. Using this incident as the entry point, this panel will discuss a number of significant cases of visual arts censorship in Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. How are violations against freedom of expression in the arts framed and justified? What journey takes the same work from acceptable to controversial? What are some of the responses from the different arts stakeholders when art is attacked? 

This panel is organised as part of the Southeast Asian Arts Censorship database project to research and document arts and culture censorship in the region. Launched in 2022 by ArtsEquator (Singapore) in partnership with Five Arts Center (Malaysia), the pilot covers incidents occurring from 2010 to 2022, in six Southeast Asian countries, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Panel includes Kathy Rowland, Project Founder and Director, ArtsEquator, Linh Le, Researcher, Vietnam, and Katrina Stuart Santiago, Researcher, Philippines.

Please email if interested to attend.


21 OCTOBER 2023 (11:00 AM – 12:00 PM)
Exhibition walkthrough with the curators, Beverly Yong, Rahel Joseph, Snow Ng and Ellen Lee

21 OCTOBER 2023 (1:00 PM – 6:00 PM)
Wayang Tek-tek: Presentation and workshops by Fairuz Sulaiman

Nirmala Dutt studied wayang kulit in Jakarta and incorporated elements of wayang into some of her works. In this spirit, we are inviting Fairuz Sulaiman to present the outcomes of his Wayang Tek-tek project, a theatre education program for teens from indigenous communities in the country. 

If you would like to attend the presentation and workshops conducted by the teens, please email

28 OCTOBER 2023 (4:00 PM – 5:00 PM)
Body, Blood & Spirit — The story of PUSAKA and its search
A Talk by Eddin Khoo

Eddin Khoo reflects on PUSAKA's wild and eccentric odyssey, the perennial search for collective memory through culture. He also contemplates how the easthetics of traditional arts have influenced the attitudes and approaches of contemporary artists in Malaysia, looking in particular at the iconography of Wayang Kulit, stupas, and energy points in the work of Nirmala Dutt.

Please register by emailing

28 OCTOBER 2023 (11:00 AM – 4:00 PM)
Drypoint Workshop with Chetak 17
Fee: RM120

Participants will learn the step-by-step process of intaglio printing using a drypoint technique guided by artists from Chetak 17. Drypoint is a printmaking method where artists manually scratch the metal printing plate to create rough areas which then hold the ink. Unlike etching, drypoint printing does not require the use of chemicals.  Chetak 17 is a printmaking collective which focuses on the reintroduction of printmaking as an artistic medium, as well as finding new audiences for the artform.

Please register by emailing


18 NOVEMBER 2023
The Environmental & Indigenous Peoples Films Screening 

Stories of the land, stories of her people: in her work, Nirmala was very much influenced by the plight of indigenous communities in Malaysia, many of whom were displaced from their ancestral lands for the benefit of logging and palm oil production.

In collaboration with independent social film collective the Freedom Film Network, ILHAM presents a day of films and documentaries on our indigenous cultures and communities, their connection to the land, and their collective struggles against environmental destruction, land-grabs, and forced displacement.

There will be three sessions:
11:00 AM – 12:30 PM - The Struggle for the Heartland of Sarawak
2:00 PM – 3:30 PM - If Not Us, Then Who? Films by the Orang Asli Community
4:00 PM to 5:30 PM - The Great Inundation of Bakun Dam

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


2 DECEMBER 2023 (3:00 PM)
It's getting hot in here

As the planet heats up, why does it matter that we keep the rise in temperature to 1.5°C? And do electric cars, going vegetarian and reducing plastic really help? Environmental journalist SL Wong brings you through the facts and myths. Presented by Macaranga, an award-winning local environmental journalism outfit who do in-depth, analytical and relevant stories on issues like forest-use, marine conservation and climate change.

10 DECEMBER 2023 (3:00 PM – 5:00 PM)
Human Rights Day Event

Human Rights Day is celebrated annually around the world on 10 December to raise awareness on the different plights of marginalized and oppressed communities in every corner of the world. In collaboration with the Nirmala Dutt: Statements exhibition currently being showcased at ILHAM Gallery, Asylum Access Malaysia will organize a two-hour event to commemorate this day and provide a platform for refugees and asylum seekers to share their stories through poetry, music, open discussion, and other arts activities.



ILHAM Kids Art Discovery Tours for "Nirmala Dutt: Statements"

For kids aged 7 to 12 years

The fee is RM50 per child who must be accompanied by at least 1 adult (all accompanying adults go for free). To register please email and with the full name and age of the child as well as the full name, mobile number and email of each accompanying adult.

Wednesday 18 October 2023 (10:30am – 12:45pm)
Thursday 19 October 2023 (10:30am – 12:45pm) 
Thursday 26 October 2023 (10:30am – 12:45pm)

Tuesday 14 November 2023 (10:30am – 12:45pm)

Thursday 7 December 2023 (10:30am – 12:45pm)
Wednesday 13 December 2023 (10:30am – 12:45pm)
Saturday 16 December 2023 (10:30am – 12:45pm) & (3.00pm - 5.00pm)



Guided Tours

Guided tours available in English every Friday at 3:00pm and every Saturday at 11:00am.

Please email to book a place in advance as we have limited space.
The guided tours are free of charge.