Dirty Politics in Malaysian Arts 龌蹉不堪的艺术界政治

by Winston Peng


I have found that Malaysia has a pool of great fine artists backed by highly successful gallerists, intelligent curators, insightful writers and prominent collectors local and foreign.

I have been spurring the idea that our unique cultural content is the answer to our quest to become an innovation-driven economy. Distinctive cultural motifs and content for example, can be infused into our car, building and packaging product designs as a collective, differentiation strategy at international scale.

Over the years, I have organised the Artists as Social Innovators forum that drew full crowd at the National Art Gallery to get artists to rethink and elevate their role in societal development. I have also organised and chaired the National Arts Symposium in 2015 that drew 200 panel members from 50 different professions to discuss the role of art in their value chain over 24 tracks to create awareness on the importance of art.

I have found that Malaysia has a pool of great fine artists backed by highly successful gallerists, intelligent curators, insightful writers and prominent collectors from locals and foreigners. They represent our minds and indeed our hope for the future.

Malaysia also have good artisans and cultural workers. Their little contributions fuel our RM100 billion tourism industry. They are the grass roots, level-headed people whom we see every day from the food we eat, crafts we buy, places we go, stories we tell and senses we feel. They make up a significant part of our culture.

However, like any good and growing ecosystem, there are negative elements that attempt to stifle our development. I am talking about a group of struggling and frustrated artists. They compensate their lack of imagination by being political and making a lot of noise in social media. Recently, they work with a group of wily curators and academics to dupe foreign foundations into funding their guileful mission to infiltrate national art institutions to paint a bad light on our country. They have planned for a series of public talks and discourse to celebrate their impending victory.

When this foreign entity that is currently celebrating the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Malaysia realised that they were officially funding an exhibition that is political and potentially painting a bad light on the family of our Foreign Minister, they advised the curator and the artists to consider their positions as it was not within the objective and curatorial scope. This is totally sensible. It is not surprising that a foreign foundation didn’t understand the intricacies of our national politics.

These artists then decided to take down their own paintings and resorted to blaming members of the public, then the foreign entity, then the national institution, except themselves. They gain publicity by claiming that they have been censored by powers. Finally, when truth unfolded, they panicked. Fearing a public backlash, they withdrawn from the exhibition entirely but continue with their treacherous acts in the social media to justify their injudiciousness.

This subversive group cannot comprehend or recognise that art is more than just about them. A fair question by a member of the public to the foreign entity was met with fascist-style clampdown and witch hunt with the help of their wily curators and hawkish academics. They had put up a provocative work in a public exhibition but were not ready for and could not accept fair public engagement. They turned a mere question into a terrible complaint and lied about the censorship of their artwork by illusionary powers. They failed to understand that international relations from the foreign entity was more important than their artwork and their continuous embarrassment to both countries.

Sadly, this is reminiscent of how foreigners who take interest in our art are first met by these group of loud ‘pasar malam’ like peddlers who are desperate for attention. Our foreign friends will eventually learn that they have been duped and worse, hands bitten off by these savages they try to feed.

Fortunately, Malaysia is blessed with cultural capital large enough to withstand these cultural traitors. I continue to place my faith in Malaysian artists who possess power and talent to take our nation to the next level.

我一直认为马来西亚独特的文化方式是我们追求创新型经济的答案。例如,特色的文化主题可融入汽车、建筑和产品包装设计,并作为国际规模差异化战略。

而多年来,我组织并号召艺术家作为社会创新者论坛,并在国家美术馆引起热烈回响,让艺术家重新思考和提升在社会发展的作用和潜能。我也曾策划2015年的国家艺术研讨会,并从50个各行业领域的专业人士中聚集200位小组成员,议论艺术在他们的价值链中的作用超过24跑道,创造我们对于艺术重要性的认知。

马来西亚有一批伟大的优秀艺术家,他们是由画廊艺术家、智慧策展人、洞察力作家与国内外的著名收藏家所组成。他们代表我们的心灵,同时是未来的希望。

我们也具备良好的工匠和文化工作者。他们努力建设累积我国让人瞩目的1000亿令吉旅游业。我们透过每天吃的食物、购买工艺品和所到之处,还有被告知和感受的故事,接触到各种草根性或上层社会的人,构成组合我们文化主要的部分。

然而,犹如所有蓬勃不断增长的生态系统一样,也会出现消极因素企图扼杀阻碍。我指的是有些垂死挣扎和沮丧的艺术家,他们通过政治和社交媒体的舆论噪音掩盖缺失的想象力。最近,他们联合一群狡诈的策展人和学者,欺骗外国基金会资助他们邪恶使命渗透的民族艺术机构,对我国造成恶劣影响。他们也计划透过一系列公开研讨会欢庆即将取得的胜利。

至于这个目前与马来西亚庆祝外交关系60周年的外国也实际意识到,正在资助一个政治上可能对我国外交部长家属造成不良影响的展览会,并建议策展人和艺术家考虑他们的立场,这并非资助的目标范围。当然,外国基金会不了解我国政治复杂性完全符合情理。

而这些艺术家决定取下自己的画,诉诸归咎公众人士、接着外国机构和国家机构,除了他们自身。他们宣称本身已经被权势力量干涉审查。最后,当真相水落石出的时候他们就开始恐慌,担心公众反感,并从展览会撤离,但继续在社交网络上玩弄着奸诈把戏,证实他们的盲目。

上述颠覆黑白的群体无法理解或认知,所谓的艺术不仅是他们自己。公众人士对于外国机构一个合理的问题,被这些狡诈策展人和鹰派学者借题发挥成法西斯式的迫害和追捕。他们在公开展览会进行挑衅性的任务,但未准备好,无法接受公平公开的参与。他们将一个简单的问题演变成恐怖的抱怨,并幻想有权势力量对他们的作品进行审查。他们不了解外国机构对于国际关系的重视,当然比他们的艺术品更关键,他们终究在两国之间持续尴尬。

悲叹的是,这让人想起对于我们的艺术感兴趣的外国人,首先要遇见这些如小贩一般,急切引起注意而高声大叫“Pasar Malam”的一群,但我们的外国朋友最终会得知,他们被欺骗,更糟糕的是,手还被他们试图饲养的野蛮人咬伤。

庆幸的是,马来西亚拥有宽裕的文化资本,可以抵挡类似文化叛徒。我继续信奉马来西亚艺术家,他们具备力量和才能,将我们的国家提升到更高水平。

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