Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sensors: Banned Books & Other Monsters

My friend Melvin has just sent me this rather interesting article on an upcoming exhibition. The exhibition will be something which would definitely interest a person like me, who is always looking for the unorthodox, the strange. The details...

Title : Sensors: Banned Books & Other Monsters
Venue : The Annexe @ Central Market
Jalan Hang Kasturi
Kuala Lumpur

Date & Time : Fri 21 Sep – Sun 7 Oct 2007 (Mon – Sat: 11am – 7pm; Sun: 11am – 5pm)
Tickets : Free Admission
Phone : 03-2274 6542/ 03-2070 1137
Synopsis : "Sensors" is an exhibition by artist Sharon Chin, that takes banned books as a motif, with the central idea being that the process of censorship is essentially arbitrary in nature.

A book may be banned in Malaysia according to detailed guidelines, but any attempt to objectively define these guidelines is difficult.

The 1500 or so banned titles (since 1971) only suggest, not define, what is deemed forbidden, transgressive or offensive in our society. Thinking about censorship draws for us merely shadowy shapes of our fears, which disappear like wraiths when exposed in the light of knowledge and discourse.

"Sensors" comprises an installation in two parts, housed in two adjacent gallery spaces. The first consists of a buzz wire game where several buzz wires stretch along the length of the gallery. The shape of the wire follows a histogram chart of categories of books that have been banned in Malaysia from 1971 to the present day. The viewer is invited to play with the buzz wire, and each time the hoop touches the wire, a warning light goes off. In this way, information about banned books becomes a spatial entity negotiated physically by the audience.

The second installation is in the adjacent space, which is blacked out. Viewers are provided with handheld torches to navigate the work which consists of several ‘doors’ hanging in space. The viewers open the ‘doors’ to discover monsters and mythical creatures that have been painted on lists of banned books. They may examine these works only by the dim light of the torch. The secret, irrational atmosphere of this installation is in contrast with that of the other space, which is ostensibly characterized by objectivity, empiricism and rationality.

Rather than lament the lack of access to banned materials, this exhibition seeks to explore censorship as a paradoxical and complex process.

Sharon Chin was born in KL in 1980 and furthered her studies in New Zealand and Australia (Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland, 2001; BFA, Victorian College of the Arts, 2003). Working with text and sculpture, especially in site-specific installations, her work looks at how we negotiate geography, history, human relations and language in the contemporary imagination.

Her most recent body of work, "Fourth World", was shown at the Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur in 2006. She also writes regularly on art for various local publications, including The Star, Kakiseni and Off The Edge.

The completion of this project was made possible with the generous support of a grant from the inaugural Krishen Jit Astro Fund.

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