Homegrown arts consultancy OUR ArtProjects is planning to start 2017 with a bang as it launches its own gallery at Kampung Attap in Kuala Lumpur next month.
The OUR ArtProjects gallery will be located in a row of restored 1950s interconnected shophouses in Kampung Attap, that once housed the Selangor Zhongshan Association, among other merchants.
The entire building, which consists of 12 units nestled in three interconnected shophouses, will be called the Zhongshan building.
OUR ArtProjects is involved in helping transform this building into a creative hub with the support of a grant from Think City, a community-focused urban regeneration organisation.
Neighbouring tenants will include Malaysia Design Archive, The Ricecooker Archives, Tandang Store, Bogus Merchandise, Artist Studio, Reading Library by Amateur Collective and others.
“Most of the tenants will be having their first ever physical space atthe Zhongshan building. It’s an exciting project as the entire building will be a centre for art, design and research,” says Snow Ng, one of the OUR ArtProjects gallery directors.
Visual art will get the spotlight first when OUR ArtProjects gallery opens at the Zhongshan building next month. Its inaugural exhibition will be Great Leap Forward, a solo exhibition by the late artist Nirmala Dutt, who died on Dec 5.
The exhibition, which opens on Jan 7, centres on Nirmala’s 1990s output. It had been planned earlier this year.
“Nirmala was really one of the pioneering contemporary artists to explore the role of artist as a social commentator. Moreover, her artistic concerns also mirror what we recognise as art, that inspire us to think critically about the world, about the country and about our society,” says Ng.
Nirmala (1941–2016), who emerged in the late 1960s, had a career that spanned documentary photography, painting, silkscreen, collage and public art.
Established in 2013, OUR ArtProjects focuses on identifying and representing important practices in Malaysian art, with an emphasis on emerging and mid-career talents. It also aim to introduce significant art practices that have emerged in neighbouring countries.
Ng adds that the OUR ArtProjects gallery would be holding talks and workshops in future, as well as exhibitions from senior and new artists alike. These will include a showcase from veteran artist Wong Hoy Cheong, and an exhibition of printwork from upcoming artist Mark Tan.
“I hope the gallery can raise more awareness and appreciation for old and new forms of art, and also encourage critical thinking,” says Ng.
The rest of the tenants at the Zhongshan building will be opening up in stages, from February onwards.
The Malaysian Design Archive, a project to map the development of graphic design in Malaysia, will share a space with The Ricecooker Archives, which was previously known as The Ricecooker Shop, once a punk-based record store.
The Ricecooker Archives' space will include a mini-museum, library and info-shop of South-East Asian rock'n'roll artefacts and documentation.
“For the Malaysian Design Archive, this new space will continue what we do online and how we will benefit further from a physical space. Documenting and researching Malaysian design through the generations will remain our central focus,” says Ezrena Marwan, one of the Malaysian Design Archive founders.
Elsewhere, the Tandang Store, an independent record shop, will be opening its second outlet at the Zhongshan building in early February.
“This new Tandang Store will be open daily – regular work hours. The space is bigger and we will be working hard to fill it up with all kinds of music ... punk, reggae and dub to South-East Asian obscurities and non-mainstream indie,” says Alak Idle, one of Tandang Store’s owners.
Tandang Store will be stocking up on vinyl, cassettes, CDs, fanzines and DIY merchandise. Alak adds that the original Tandang shop at the live venue Rumah Api in KL will be maintained – but it will only be open during weekends and gig nights.
“There is a lot of coolness about this shophouse ... so much fresh energy coming from the art community and the design activists. So it’s great that there is a music destination like Tandang Store in the mix. You need some noisy neighbours,” says Alak.
The Zhongshan building is located at No.80 Jalan Rotan, off Jalan Kampung Attap in Kuala Lumpur. For more information, visit www.ourartprojects.com or facebook.com/ourartprojects.