Art on the walls, dancers on the floor at Ilham Gallery

What goes on in an art gallery when its doors are closed to the public due to the pandemic?

If you were a fly on the wall at Ilham Gallery in Kuala Lumpur last December, you would have been privy to a dance and movement workshop that was held here.

A video has been released recently, with scenes from the five-day workshop and activities, as well as reflections from the 15 participants.

The project has also released two short dance films on YouTube: Here X, meeting and subverting expectations of femininity, and Here Y, celebrating the individual experience.

Why Not Here? is produced and directed by Summer Gan and Alisya Razman, in partnership with Ilham Gallery. It is supported by Cendana Malaysia.

“It started as an idea that came up during the pandemic when we just came back from New York and we were really longing for a space to practise our art. Since we could no longer be in studios, we started envisioning different spaces where our art can exist, ” Alisya shares in the video.

The dancers in this workshop drew inspiration from the space itself, including the architecture and design of the building, and the public outdoor public sculptures that are situated on the two lawns near the building entrance.

They also responded and reacted to the photos on display at Ilham Gallery’s current exhibition Bayangnya Itu Timbul Tenggelam - Photographic Cultures In Malaysia.

According to Gan, the project at Ilham Gallery came about because they wanted to challenge and explore where their art – in this case, dance and live performance – can exist.

“We wanted to find new ways to explore our craft while also communicating and collaborating with other art forms and visual art. Our goal was to create a safe space and a community of like-minded artists who maybe had the same curiosities as us, of wanting to dance in a place like an art gallery, outdoors or by a sculpture, ” says Gan.

Ilham Gallery in Kuala Lumpur is currently closed due to the movement control order (MCO).

Its photography exhibition Bayangnya Itu Timbul Tenggelam - Photographic Cultures In Malaysia has been extended and can be viewed on the interactive virtual tour on the gallery’s website.

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