“Life still has to go on. The show must go on. We cannot let this virus defeat us.”
Those are the words of Fergana Art founder Jaafar Ismail, sending out a clear signal that despite the implementation of the conditional movement control order (MCO) starting today, the gallery’s concurrent double bill exhibition at Publika in KL will still go on as planned.
Under the conditional MCO guidelines, all religious, sports and cultural activities will be prohibited.
“I understand that art and culture is not considered as part of essential services. But we are no different than a normal shop. We are a commercial enterprise and this is a commercial exhibition.
“So we have to open the doors but we will have to manage the visitors and make sure they follow the public health guidelines, ” says Jaafar.
The double bill features Bujukan Semilir - Feathering The Breeze, a solo sculptural exhibition by acclaimed artist Tengku Sabri Ibrahim at Publika’s White Box and a group show titled Se (Sumpah), featuring 16 artists, at the Black Box.
Both exhibitions opened on Oct 12, the same day Senior Minister (Security) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced the conditional MCO.
The exhibitions will run until Oct 27 and currently, viewing is by appointment only.
But Jaafar says walk-in visitors will still be allowed into the exhibitions, promising a control on the crowd size. He is confident that this wouldn’t be an issue as both the White Box and Black Box are spacious.
However, Jaafar is aware that both exhibitions could be shut down in light of the conditional MCO. He says this is when the virtual exhibition comes into play.
“We already planned to do a virtual exhibition regardless. There is no secret about it. It must be online nowadays because of wider reach.
“Currently, both the onsite and virtual exhibition will go on as planned. But if we are asked to shut down, viewers can hop on to the virtual show, ” says Jaafar.
Recording (the exhibition) begun today and the virtual tour will be up on the gallery’s social media channels tentatively within the next two days.
Jaafar did not consider cancelling the exhibitions as he says Bujukan Semilir - Feathering The Breeze is very important to Tengku Sabri.
“This is almost like a mini retrospective of his sculptural practice. Also, this exhibition intends to showcase his recovery from two stroke attacks since 2015.
“He is currently in the healing process. So this exhibition is a conversation between the artist, his alter ego and the forces of the wind, ” says Jaafar, referring to the Malay concept of angin.
Bujukan Semilir - Feathering The Breeze features 10 sculptural installations and 75 drawings. It also includes videos, an art talk and a Sculptor’s Drawing Lesson via Facebook and Instagram Live and the sales of DiTangkap Gergasi, a book of 20 short stories by the artist.
“It’s a huge exhibition by any means, ” says Jaafar.
Having lost his physical strength due to stroke, the sculptures were done by Tengku Sabri's assistant under his supervision.
The exhibition, which took nearly two years to complete, was originally scheduled for a March run. It was then postponed to this new date after the MCO came into effect.
As for Se (Sumpah), which also includes four Thai artists from Pattani, Jaafar says it’s important not to cancel the show for the livelihood of the artists.
“It’s no easy being an artist. They are one of the worst hit right now because they are self-employed. It’s tough for them. We should show compassion to the workers in the art and culture sector, ” says Jaafar.
The participating artists are Azam Aris, Che Ahmad Azhar, Fareez Siva, Haslin Ismail, Ismail Abdullah, Kamal Mustafa, Leon Leong, Noor Mahnun Mohamed, Sabri Idrus, Samsudin Wahab, Syafiq Mohd Nor and Tan Nan See from Malaysia and Jehabdollah Jehsorhoh, Karakot Sangnoy, Muhammad Suriyee Masu and Salwanee Hajisamea from Patani ArtSpace.
Bujukan Semilir - Feathering The Breeze and Se (Sumpah) shows are on at the White Box and Black Box, MAP Publika, Level G2-01, Block A5, Jalan Dutamas in Kuala Lumpur till Oct 27. Opening hours: 10am-7pm.
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