Malaysian artist Nadiah Bamadhaj, 46, is one of seven Southeast Asians nominated for the inaugural Joseph Balestier Award for the Freedom of Art.
The accolade, an initiative between the US Embassy (in Singapore) and Art Stage Singapore 2015 (an Asian art fair that runs from Jan 22–25), nominates artists based on their commitment to the freedom, expression and liberty of art, and the active expression of these ideals through their work.
Nadiah, born and raised in Petaling Jaya, has since called Yogyakarta her home for over a decade. As an artist and writer, she's driven by social justice. Her work mirrors the way in which institutions of power relate to their constituents, particularly through construction, architecture, monuments and, recently, mythology.
From her initial training in sculpture and sociology, Nadiah has expanded her practice to include video, drawing and installation.
The Joseph Balestier Award for the Freedom of Art consists of a trophy, certificate and a US$5,000 (RM17,840) work grant. The recipient will be announced on Jan 20 at a ceremony at the US Ambassador to Singapore’s residence. Balestier was the first Consul General of the United States of America to Singapore, serving between 1836–1852.
The other nominated artists are Lee Wen (Singapore), FX Harsono (Indonesia), Manit Sriwanichpoom (Thailand), Pablo Baen Santos (Philippines), Aye Ko (Myanmar) and Svay Sareth (Cambodia).