Ipoh International Art Festival 2019 heralds a new dawn for creative arts in Perak


  • Arts
  • Tuesday, 26 Nov 2019

DJ Miko is in the line-up for the Bas Bising new music series at the Ipoh International Art Festival 2019. Photo: Sany Mohd

When you have two experimental-minded Bas Bising (noisy bus) shows to bookend an arts festival, you know you have something special in the works.

The Bas Bising series, curated by Ipoh-based Dr Kamal Sabran, an academic and avant musician, features a cast of regional experimental musicians who will give the upcoming Ipoh International Arts Festival 2019 programme an edgy dimension.

“There is no better time to push the boundaries. Ipoh has a strong arts background and it has been buzzing this year with various creative communities banding together to put it on the national map. From music to visual arts to archiving and creative forums, Ipoh has a network in place. With Bas Bising, we also have a regional line-up to take things further, ” says Kamal, who is the founder of the Space Gambus Experiment.

The Ipoh International Art Festival 2019, which takes place at four main venues and several pop-up destinations in the Perak state capital from Nov 30 to Dec 8, marks a new beginning for a dormant arts festival series that was last held in 2000.

The upcoming IIAF 2019, presented by an eye-catching team of nine curators, will feature more than 100 arts practitioners filling out a week-long programme that includes a contemporary art exhibition, photography exhibition, performance art, theatre, experimental and new music gigs, film and video art screenings, workshops and forums. Indie rock music and graffiti art events are also prominent in the festival listings.

The festival is free admission for all programmes.

“The idea was to work with Tourism Perak and Ipoh’s artistic communities to reboot the IIAF platform, introduced in the mid-1990s. We started from scratch to rebuild and re-energise the IIAF series. The planning and work has taken two years, ” says Nur Hanim Mohamed Khairuddin, IIAF 2019 artistic director.

Muzium Darul Ridzuan in Ipoh will host the 'Climate' art exhibition and workshops at the Ipoh International Art Festival 2019. Photo: Filepic Muzium Darul Ridzuan in Ipoh will host the 'Climate' art exhibition and workshops at the Ipoh International Art Festival 2019. Photo: Filepic

“We wanted to give it a broader, more contemporary outlook, to present a festival - more equitable and diverse - that reflects the times we’re living in, ” she adds.

The IIAF 2019 festival’s theme is “Climate”.

“Climate is about the conditions we live in as human beings. Climate is about how we deal with changes in our environment – natural, political, social and economic – wherever we may be in the world, ” says Nur Hanim.

IIAF 2019’s main objective is to help tourist/heritage town Ipoh take on additional visibility – and responsibility – as one of the major Malaysian cities with its own “signature” annual art festival.

“The arts festival model is changing rapidly. It’s not about a big tent circus coming to town. We have to recognise and support local artistic communities, and create a festival platform that has a lasting impact and place in a city’s contemporary culture. Ipoh today is a vibrant city for the arts and the IIAF has arrived at the right time to engage the masses, ” she says.

This year, Ipoh has been busy with arts events such as Festival Kolektif 2019, Perak Cartoon Festival and the Ipoh Music Symposium, which focused on Malaysian indie music.

Mohd Jayzuan (or Jay), who is the main man for Projek Rabak, an Ipoh-based indie literature and arts outfit, will be curating a lit forum at IIAF.

He reveals that Ipoh as a creative hub is not a fantastical proposition.

“We’re just two hours away from KL, and that means people outside Ipoh can easily make their way here. What we have to ensure is that Ipoh has enough art spaces and active communities to keep the momentum going. Even if we have to do things on a shoestring budget, we move ahead and place this IIAF as a model for the ‘can do’ spirit, which can be infectious when everybody comes together, ” says Jay.

The venues for IIAF are Muzium Darul Ridzuan, 22 Hale Street, PBUY Store and the PORT (People Of Remarkable Talents) space.

Here are the main highlights of IIAF 2019:


Bas Bising Experimental/New Music Series
Venue: Hale Street Parking Lot (Dec 1) and PORT (Dec 8)
Time: Dec 1 (9pm onwards), Dec 8 (8pm onwards)

To coincide with the climate theme, the Bas Bising “stage” is a repurposed bus, salvaged from the Ipoh City Council. It can be towed from venue to venue. These shows, driven by Kamal, will set stall (or vintage bus in this case) with new music, avant poetry, noise “bombing” acts and all things associated with sound adventure.

It will see Ipoh experimental group Joni Mustaf, led by Mohd Jayzuan, sharing bus space with Lintang Raditya, a prominent name in Indonesia’s burgeoning community of synth builders and noise artists, Singaporean performer Hasnul Rahmat, Azlan Dawai and LHTV/EFN on Dec 1 at the Hale Street Parking Lot.

The show at the PORT arts venue on Dec 8 features guitarist Dharma Shan (from Singaporean act The Observatory), Wukir Suryadi (from Indonesian extreme Nusantara group Senyawa) alongside names such as Ranjit Bois, Bart Ridoos, Amin Arawi, Hafiz Chai, Ghost69, Amir Zainorin, DJ Miko and FVRNV.


Climate Art Exhibition
Venue: Muzium Darul Ridzuan
Date: Nov 30 to Dec 8
Time: 10am to 6pm

No state art gallery, no problem. This contemporary art exhibition, featuring 33 artists, at Muzium Darul Ridzuan is one of IIAF 2019’s anchor events. National Art Gallery curator Tan Hui Koon and Bayu Utomo Radjikin (Hom Art Trans gallery founder) provide curatorial support.

Malaysian artists include Ramlan Abdullah, Raja Shahriman Raja Aziddin, Bayu Utomo Radjikin, Ahmad Shukri Mohamed, Ahmad Fuad Osman, Masnoor Ramli Mahmud, Noor Azizan Rahman Paiman, Chang Yoong Chia, Bibi Chew, Hamidi Hadi, Sharon Chin, Saiful Razman, Samsudin Wahab and Cheng Yen Peng.

Several regional artists are also on board, including South-East Asian artists such as Moe Satt (Myanmar), Jehabdulloh Jehsorhoh (Thailand), Mohammadsuriyee Masu (Thailand), Januri (Indonesia), Mohamad “Ucup” Yusuf (Indonesia) and Ahmad Abu Bakar (Singapore).

Contemporary artist Ahmad Fuad Osman is part of the Climate group exhibit as well as the 'Why React? Making Art In Troubled Times' forum on Dec 5. Photo: Filepic Contemporary artist Ahmad Fuad Osman is part of the Climate group exhibit as well as the 'Why React? Making Art In Troubled Times' forum on Dec 5. Photo: Filepic


Climate Art Workshops
Venue: Muzium Darul Ridzuan
Date: Nov 30 and Dec 1
Time: 10am to 6pm

This artmaking weekend, presented by the National Art Gallery and partners, at the museum features a diverse line-up of established artists, collectives and newcomers.

The highlights: The Aftermath Thinker artists collective from Sarawak will conduct a recycling workshop to complete a life size sculpture together with participants.

A lino print workshop by Syarifah Nadhirah, who has just completed her residency at the Rimbun Dahan South-East Asian Art Residency Programme, is also an interesting session with her use of botanical elements.

Not to be missed is also Chained To Plastic: The Unmanageable Waste, an educational workshop on plastic waste crisis fuelled by the oil and gas industry by Sharon Chin and Zedeck Siew.

Both artists will teach participants on how to design placards creatively to send a powerful message to the world. This workshop will end with a mock parade. Check the listings for the full programme line-up.


Semangat Photography Exhibition
Venue: 22 Hale Street
Time: Nov 30 to Dec 8
Date: 10am to 6pm

This exhibition showcases photography works by a group of experienced Malaysian photographers.

Semangat, curated by Syed Zarul Hisham, represents the living conditions and landscapes that are influenced by nature’s elements of water, earth, wind and fire, or even the results and effects of the social, cultural and political shifts.

Participating artists are Seth Akmal, Ronnie Bahari, Khairel Anuar Che Ani (Perak Man), Thanwan Singh, Zanariah Salam, Nick Ng, Aerial Works, Chot Touch, Jefree Salim, Steve Tan, Senyeorita Osman and Zamri Jasi.

A forum entitled Life As An Asli Artist, in collaboration with arts outfit Sharpened Word, will be held on Nov 30 at the venue prior to the opening ceremony.


Acclaimed Singaporean artist Zai Kuning, who is currently based in Ipoh for research work, will be presenting an acoustic showcase on Dec 5. He is also part of the film discussion surrounding his 'Riau' documentary on Dec 6. Photo: FilepicAcclaimed Singaporean artist Zai Kuning, who is currently based in Ipoh for research work, will be presenting an acoustic showcase on Dec 5. He is also part of the film discussion surrounding his 'Riau' documentary on Dec 6. Photo: Filepic

Film Weekend
Venue: PBUY Store
Date: Dec 6-8
Time: 3pm-11pm (Friday), 11am-11pm (Saturday/Sunday)

IIAF’s Film Weekend will be held during the festival’s second weekend. Featuring selected short films and videos curated by Khaled Ramadan (Lebanon-born artist, curator and filmmaker) and Denmark-based Malaysian visual artist Amir Zainorin.

This programme will take off with a screening and talk session on Dec 6 with Amir, Khaled and Singaporean contemporary artist, Zai Kuning who will be talking about their film projects.

IIAF 2019 will be presenting selected short films and video works by Hanna Husberg (Finland), Ferhat Ozgur (Turkey), Oliver Ressler (Austria), Stefano Cago (Italy), Ursula Biemann (Switzerland), Khaled Ramadan (Lebanon), Hanna Ljungh (Sweden), Zai Kuning (Singapore), Amir Zainorin (Malaysia-Denmark) and other Malaysian short films.


IIAF 2019 is an art festival co-organised by PORT and Tourism Perak with support from the National Art Gallery, MOTAC Perak, Ipoh City Council and Muzium Darul Ridzuan. Facebook: Ipoh International Art Festival 2019 (IIAF2019).

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