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KataKatha aspires to create dialogue and creative interaction among public intellectuals, artists, students and communities, providing a platform for the exploration of ASEAN’s cultural commonalities.
About The KataKatha Exhibition: This World, Out Here

This World, Out Here – the KataKatha Exhibition is a novel exploration of cultural and creative life in Southeast Asia. It evolved out of the conversations, between the KataKatha participants in November 2015, transforming the ideas and questions emerged from the conversation into a visceral experience of Southeast Asia through a play of visuals, spaces, soundscapes, smells, and tactile senses.

The exhibition aims to explore the elements that shape our experiences and thus compel creative ingenuity in the region. It interprets how the environment, climate, history, and the myth of Southeast Asia inspire the cultural and artistic sensibilities in ASEAN. This in turn creates original, ingenious arts and cultural tradition that are uniquely ASEAN. The exhibition will feature, amongst others, the participants’ personal materials that reflect their creative process and the formative work inherent in their respective fields, most of which have never been publicly displayed.

The exhibition hopes to inspire aspiring talents in ASEAN, and by using art to highlight the commonalities that are pervasive throughout this region, we attempt to create greater awareness of our shared identity to foster stronger integration within the region.  

The exhibition opens daily in Balai Seni Maybank from 28th July – 28th August 2016:

  • Weekdays: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Weekends: 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Venue: Balai Seni, Maybank Tower; 100, Jalan Tun Perak; 50050 Kuala Lumpur; Malaysia

Admission is free. 

There will also be programmes scheduled every weekend during the exhibition period which are open to public. 

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About KataKatha

KataKatha is a newly conceived and formative regional initiative by Maybank Kim Eng, supported by Maybank Foundation, conceptualised and curated in collaboration with PUSAKA. It is a cross-cultural collaboration involving 5 countries - Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.

 

Shaping Southeast Asia’s Cultural Identity

KataKatha serves as catalyst for a platform of sustained deliberation of ideas and themes that shape Southeast Asia’s cultural identity, to be documented as an archive of creative thought and work encompassing the region. Through this initiative we aim to elevate the appreciation of Southeast Asia’s culture and the arts, its commonalities and uniqueness, in perpetuating its development while staying true to its authenticity.

 

Celebrating Southeast Asia’s Regional Diversity

KataKatha aspires to create a meaningful interaction of encounter and dialogue between regional practitioners of culture and the arts, in an exploration of Southeast Asia’s artistic, cultural and intellectual experience. It is a celebration of the region’s diversity and our “Shared History, Shared Culture, Shared Traditions.”

 

Get the latest updates on KataKatha by following us on our social media channels below.

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Join in the conversation by using the hashtags #KataKatha, #beASEAN and #MaybankKimEng.

 

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Principal Cultural Figures and Artists
   
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Goenawan Mohamad
Indonesia

Goenawan Mohamad is an Indonesian poet, playwright, librettist and public intellectual. His works consist of several books of poetry, the most recent being Gandari (The Blindfolded Mother), Don Quixote, 70 Puisi, and Misalkan Kami di Sarajevo; plays and libretto, including Letters of Karna; and essays, including Marxisme, Seni, dan Pembebasan (Marxism, the Arts and Emancipation), Tuhan dan Hal-hal yang Tak Selesai (God and Other Unfinished Things). The tenth volume of his collected opinion-pieces, Catatan Pinggir (Sidelines), has just been released. He was the founder and chief editor of weekly news magazine Tempo, until 2000. Tempo was twice forcibly closed by Suharto’s New Order administration because of its criticism of the authoritarian regime. In 1999, Goenawan was named International Editor of the Year by World Press Review magazine. He was the recipient of the prestigious Dan David Prize in 2006, and in 2015 was awarded the Bintang Budaya Parama Dharma – the highest cultural award in Indonesia by President Joko Widodo. Currently with other writers and artists he runs a cultural centre in Jakarta, known as Komunitas Salihara.
   
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Farish A. Noor
Malaysia

Regarded as one of the most imaginative historians of the region, the work of Farish Noor proves that history is neither dead, nor cast in stone. Presently a Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, where he is part of the research cluster ‘Transnational Religion in Southeast Asia’. Farish is also an Affiliated Professor at Muhammadiyah University, Surakarta and Sunan Kalijaga Islamic University, Jogjakarta. He is the author of many books including Islam on the Move: The Tablighi Jama'at in Southeast Asia; Islam Embedded: The Historical Development of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party PAS: 1951-2003; and the widely celebrated What Your Teacher Didn’t Tell You.
   
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Agnes Arellano
Philippines

The sacred and the mythical, the physical and the erotic, the magical and the mundane, the religious and the profane, and music and song all permeate the art of Filipina artist Agnes Arellano. Drawing from rich personal experience and an extraordinary range of influences, she makes some of the most dramatic and acclaimed art in Asia. Best known for surrealist and expressionist work in plaster (cast and directly modelled), bronze, and cold-cast marble, Arellano's work tends to stress the integration of individual elements into one totality or "inscape". She is a widely exhibited artist and has participated in international group exhibitions in Berlin, Fukuoka, Havana, Johannesburg, New York, Brisbane and Singapore.
   
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Anocha Suwichakornpong
Thailand

Anocha’s artistic brilliance in filmmaking has been apparent from the beginning, with her thesis film Graceland selected as the first Thai short to be featured at the Cannes Film Festival (Cinéfondation). Anocha presents films as a language to explore boundaries, an honest reflection into life and society, at times infusing experimental elements that challenge the viewer’s experience. Her first feature film, Mundane History has also won numerous international awards, including the Tiger Award at Rotterdam in 2010.
   
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Geraldine Kang
Singapore

In still frames, one is allowed a window of introspection. Contemplating the nature of permanence and transience, stillness and motion, the effects of scale, range and proximity to the intensity of human emotions and experience of the subject, and the person as an actor or observer. Geraldine’s photography explores the essence of human nature, relationships and taboos. The correlation and tensions between man and the environment, development and nature, machinery and labour, elucidating our contemporary struggles and the question of responsibility. She experiments with space and time through installations, and occasionally writes and illustrates. Winner of the Kwek Leng Joo Prize of Excellence in Photography, the artist has exhibited in her native country of Singapore and internationally.
   
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Kanakan Balintagos
Philippines

In the words of Kanakan Balintagos, art is a “weaving of things felt, smelled, seen, heard, dreamt and tasted.” The acclaimed Palawán-Filipino filmmaker also uses his art to advocate resolutely for indigenous rights. Central to his films is the spirit of the people, often juxtaposing elements of myth, tradition and folklore against the harsh reality of contemporary injustices. Kanakan’s films inspire a remembrance of cultural roots, an appreciation of the relationship between nature and man. Kanakan is best known for his debut feature, Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros (The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros) which won 15 international awards, and the film Busong (Palawan Fate) which was selected at the prestigious Cannes Directors' Fortnight in 2011.
   
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Avianti Armand
Indonesia

Avianti has immersed herself in the world of the arts from a young age, first through literature and dance, later through architecture. Professed “sleepless nights” have transformed into a steady stream of poems and prose, translating her critical social observations into works of literature. Avianti embodies a graceful balance of aesthetics and structure, ideology and functionality in her approach to both her love of literature and architecture. Her creative aim is to discover new forms, challenge and reinterpret boundaries, and to use art as a medium of advocacy. In architecture, she champions the preservation of local traditional elements. Avianti is established in both fields, earning the Khatulistiwa Literary Award in 2011 and the Indonesian Architect Association (IAI) award in 2008.
   
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Nadiah Bamadhaj
Malaysia

A multidisciplinary artist, deeply rooted in the theme of social justice, Nadiah’s grounding in human rights advocacy and strong intellectual influences lend a profundity to her art - a dialectic of politics, history, religion, ethnicity, and ultimately identity. Initially trained in sculpture, her repertoire now spans video, drawing, digital images and installation. The politics of space and its social implications are articulated through the lens of architecture, imbued with mythological references. Born in Malaysia, with patrilineal heritage in Singapore, and currently based in Indonesia, her work observes the intricacies of these societies. In Nadiah’s own words, “I hope to convey my emotions about the juxtaposition between the cultural poise and the economic degradation that I see around me.”
   
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Pichet Klunchun
Thailand

The language of bodily movements transcends the boundaries of time, culture and tradition. Pichet is the conduit between classical and contemporary, East and West. Steeped in the tradition of the Thai Classical Mask Dance, Khon, Pichet subsequently gained vast experience in contemporary dance from America and Europe. His mission is to revitalise the Thai dance tradition, imbuing it with contemporary sensibilities. With the founding of the Lifeworks Company, Pichet aims to set methods and standards to establish dance as a reputable profession. Internationally, his collaborative performance art piece with Jerome Bel has won the European Cultural Foundation's Princess Margriet Award, honouring artists and thinkers in cultural diversity for combating fear and disrespect of 'the other'.
   
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Lai Chee Kien
Singapore

Architecture is the manifestation of a civilisation’s world view. Lai Chee Kien is a historian of Southeast Asian art, architecture, settlements, urbanism, and landscapes. His work has consistently delved into the inextricable relationship between public life and architecture, and the complexities of transitioning from tradition to modernism. A tireless public lecturer, he is the author of many essays and papers, and in 2007 published “Building Merdeka: Independence Architecture in Kuala Lumpur.” He is a writer, artist, designer, curator and traveller and has been the subject of a graphic novel, Last Train from Tanjong Pagar.
   
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Latiff Mohidin
Special Guest

The quintessential artist, painter and poet Latiff Mohidin is one of the region’s most influential cultural figures. His artistry meditates the spiritual nature of things, a spontaneous interlocking of geometry and organic forms. In the 1960’s-70’s, Latiff Mohidin traversed Southeast Asia, producing a monumental body of work that captured the zeitgeist of the region’s turbulent history. His artworks have been exhibited widely, in Berlin, New York, London, Osaka, Montreal, Sydney and Sao Paulo. As a poet, Latiff Mohidin is acknowledged as having shaped the modern sensibilities of Malay literature, beginning with his acclaimed collection ‘Sungai Mekong’ (Mekong River) which combined traditional patterns with modernist impulses. Latiff Mohidin is also  a highly accomplished  literary translator, and most recently translated Goethe’s masterpiece, Faust, from the original German into Malay.
   
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Eddin Khoo
Curator and Artistic Director

Eddin Khoo is a poet, writer, translator, journalist and teacher. He is the founder of Pusaka, one of the region’s leading cultural centres, and the publishing house Kala, which devotes itself to publishing literary translations from the world’s languages into Malay. He has worked intimately with Malaysia’s custodians of the traditional and ritual arts including shadow puppeteers, musicians, dramatists and dancers. Among his preoccupations is researching aspects of oral transmission, cultural and religious politics and aspects of ritual in traditional theatre. In recognition of his work in culture, Eddin was selected as one of the Asians of the Year 2006 by Channel News Asia, Singapore. With Farish Noor, he is the author of a study on traditional Malay woodcarving, The Spirit of Wood. Forthcoming books include a collection of poetry, All the World’s Figures and The Verandah of Mecca – a memoir of his work with ritual artists in the Malaysian state of Kelantan. He has translated the Indonesian poet Goenawan Mohamad and the Malaysian poet Latiff Mohidin into English and will publish his Malay translation of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass in 2016. He is presently also compiling and editing the complete writings of his father, the Malaysian historian Khoo Kay Kim.

 

Highlights of 2015 KataKatha Conversations

 

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"It is the duty of artists & scholars to keep reminding society that there is no simple explanation for everything." 
- Farish A. Noor

Invited artists and cultural figures from across ASEAN gathered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 12 November 2015 to 15 November 2015 for KataKatha's launch.  This four-day period saw them participate in a series of conversations,exchanging ideas on their work and the environment of their home countries.  These conversations were interspersed with interactive sessions for members of the public to experience the beauty of Southeast Asian arts and culture.

 
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Full house at the public reading session with Goenawan Mohamad and Latiff Mohidin, one of several KataKatha events made available to the public.  KataKatha launched on 12 November 2015 to the sounds of a rebab performance.
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"Without arts and culture, ASEAN risks growing rich without growing its soul." - John Chong, CEO of Maybank Kim Eng. KataKatha brought together the region's eminent artists, filmmakers and writers for an exploration of Southeast Asia's shared history and artistic endeavours.
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Distinguished filmmaker Anocha Suwichakornpong hosted a screening of Graceland. Graceland was the first Thai short film selected for the Cannes Film Festival. Students from 5 of the region's top universities had the chance to participate in the dialogue sessions.
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Behind the scenes look at the troupe as they prepare for the Wayang Kulit (shadow puppet) performance.  Goenawan Mohamad and Latiff Mohidin, two of the region's most respected cultural figures, participated in KataKatha.  The longtime friends also had a joint public reading - the first time they have done so in 40 years.

 Excerpts from our Cultural Figures and Artists