Showcasing a rare display of 14 artists from Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, Gajah Gallery inaugurates its first group exhibition in Kuala Lumpur. Power, Play, Perception illuminates the diverse forms of power experienced and expressed by contemporary artists working in Southeast Asia. Through efforts at play and experimentation, the artists offer their own distinctive responses to power—instigating vital shifts in perceptions and ways of seeing complex realities.
Moving beyond narrow notions of power as coercion and control, the exhibit sheds light on how power is fluid and pervasive. Departing from Michel Foucault’s idea that freedom is at the heart of every power relationship and Benedict Anderson’s efforts at understanding power through the eyes of Southeast Asians, the exhibit provokes audiences into pondering the following questions: How is power exercised in the distinct cultures, spiritualities, histories, and systems of knowledge faced by the artists featured? How do these artists creatively respond to these powers through play? And finally, how does their creative work affect the way they perceive and express the world around them?
The show opens with the performance art piece Last Drop by Jason Lim
(Singapore), setting a meditative atmosphere in viewing the works on display. Navigating the exhibit with the curatorial premise in mind then causes fresh connections to be drawn across artists of different contexts: Suzann Victor (Singapore), Ahmad Zakii Anwar (Malaysia), and Mangu Putra (Indonesia) are compared in their efforts at revealing the powers seeping faith, history, and urban life; Sabri Idrus (Malaysia)—with his bold and unconventional plays in process, texture, and materiality—is linked with the highly tactile forms of Jigger Cruz (Philippines); and Handiwirman Saputra (Indonesia) and Kayleigh Goh (Malaysia) are connected through their radical perceptions of everyday objects and places.
In bringing the diverse works of these artists to Kuala Lumpur, the exhibit invites audiences to contemplate evolving meanings of contemporary Southeast Asian art when placed in different environments. Located at an active creative hub in Kuala Lumpur, White Box Gallery at Publika provides the ideal setting in sparking conversations on the cultural concerns tackled in Power, Play, Perception.