Get virtual: Malaysian arts community rally support for Ipoh International Art Festival


Ipoh-based artist/researcher Dr Kamal Sabran (left) will present his 'The Healing Art Project (Dec 18,9pm) online session at the IIAF Pre-Festival 2021. Photo: Kamal Sabran

The pandemic might have wiped out the plans for this year’s Ipoh International Art Festival (IIAF). No arts takeover of the Perak state capital, no weekend stream of visitors from other states making a trip to this well-curated festival series, which received positive reviews and an extension last year.

But the show has to go on - albeit - in a more low-key fashion with the IIAF 2021 Pre-Festival, which serves as a preview for next year’s festival.

The IIAF 2021 Pre-Festival, which runs from Dec 12-20, is largely an online festival, which features more than 20 events spanning exhibitions, forums, performance lectures, gigs, workshops and video/film screenings.

The on-site programmes, which will take place at the Black House, PORT arts venue in Ipoh, include the Novel (Garis Lengkung) photography exhibition (Dec 12-20), the film screening series, a Camera Lucida book discussion by writer/poet Hafiz Hamzah (Dec 12) and a film photography workshop (Dec 13).

The Novel photography exhibition, featuring Hafiz Hamzah, Hasful Zainuddin, Faa Rashid, Zarif Ismail, Adam Jalaludin, Hadib Salam, Nafisa Nasrullah, Hilman Hamdi, Fakrul Naim and Zairul Amin, is inspired by the 1967 poem by artist/poet Latiff Mohidin titled Garis Lengkung.

The festival features a photography exhibition inspired by Latif Mohidin. The Penang-based Latif also contributes a poetry reading to the fest. Photo: FilepicThe festival features a photography exhibition inspired by Latif Mohidin. The Penang-based Latif also contributes a poetry reading to the fest. Photo: Filepic

Latiff will also contribute a pre-recorded poetry-reading online session on Dec 12 (11am) to kickstart the exhibition.

“It hasn’t been a year of inactivity. We have been busy behind-the-scenes but sadly, we have no festival to execute. We actually had a programme draft for this year’s fest, but as each month passed by, and with the conditional movement control order being extended, we knew it was going to be impossible to organise a festival, which involved a list of Ipoh arts and culture destinations, ” says Nur Hanim Mohamed Khairuddin, IIAF’s artistic director.

“IIAF is all about introducing Ipoh as an arts destination. With this IIAF pre-festival, we can start giving the festival an online presence first. It’s a good headstart for next year’s festival, which we hope to roll out next November, ” she adds.

The IIAF 2021 also has a theme titled “Budi: Expanding Traditions”.

“We are also glad to have strategic partners such as National Art Gallery, Singapore Art Museum, Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan and Universiti Sains Malaysia on board for this pre-festival programme, ” says Hanim.

This IIAF 2021 Pre-Festival took about three weeks to finalise, she mentions, with plenty of goodwill and support from the arts community across the country, with participants from Sabah to Kelantan.

Sabah-based traditional weavers Roziah Jalalid (right) and Julitah Kulinting (left) with artist Yee I-Lann (centre) at the National Gallery Singapore. In the background is the ‘Tikar-A-Gagah’ installation. Photo: BernamaSabah-based traditional weavers Roziah Jalalid (right) and Julitah Kulinting (left) with artist Yee I-Lann (centre) at the National Gallery Singapore. In the background is the ‘Tikar-A-Gagah’ installation. Photo: Bernama

Recordings and contributions from participants were made and delivered to the IIAF team, which stitched the programme together.

“All the on-site events are subject to public health guidelines and limited visitor numbers. The online programming will play a huge part in giving this pre-festival an audience beyond Ipoh, and people can tune in to the talks, gigs and forums on IIAF social media channels, ” says Hanim.

Online highlights include the forum “Seni Ukiran Melayu: Paksi Seni Visual Tradisional dan Kontemporari” (Dec 14,9pm), the “Sharing The Tikar” session (Dec 17,9pm) with contemporary artist Yee I-Lann and collaborators and “The Healing Art Project” (Dec 18,9pm), focusing on sound art, with Dr Kamal Sabran. The Projek Panggung (Dec 18,5pm) gig features Ipoh-based indie band Bittersweet.

Not to be missed is also a video art exhibition, showcasing the works of established and emerging artists from the region, supported by the Singapore Art Museum and Indonesian curator Agung Hujatnikajennong.

The IIAF Pre-Festival is a free event. You can watch the online programmes on Facebook or visit www.portipoh.com.my for more information.

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