Red Hong Yi's soil artwork series honours army veterans, servicemen on Malaysia Day


Contemporary artist Red Hong Yi's new series of artworks, made from soil, will be featured in the documentary 'Tanah Tumpahnya Darah Kita' that will be premiering tonight on Astro. Photo: Aaron Wong

Contemporary artist Red Hong Yi isn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty... digging and mixing up soil.

In a series of new artworks revealed on Malaysia Day today, we get to see how Red Hong Yi and her team have created art with soil as the main material.

The many kinds of soil used in this project were sourced from Sabah, Sarawak and various other locations in Peninsular Malaysia.

With the soil and spade work, Red Hong Yi created a series of portraits celebrating the Malaysian heroes, which will be featured in the documentary Tanah Tumpahnya Darah Kita.

“I have been working on this project since November 2020. Alvin Teoh (director of Naga DDB, and son of Malaysian armed forces veteran Major Andrew Teoh) contacted me for this very special project and I said yes immediately. One of my missions as an artist is to tell stories, especially meaningful ones about history, culture and heritage. From the start, we knew that soil would be the main material because the artworks would be shown in the documentary Tanah Tumpahnya Darah Kita,” says Red Hong Yi.

Red Hong Yi's new artworks captures the reality of war and sacrifices made by Malaysian veterans. Photo: Aaron WongRed Hong Yi's new artworks captures the reality of war and sacrifices made by Malaysian veterans. Photo: Aaron Wong

Her new artworks can be viewed here as well as in the Tanah Tumpahnya Darah Kita documentary, which will be premiering tonight (Sept 16) at 9pm on Astro 25 (Ch 100).

Tanah Tumpahnya Darah Kita, presented as a "docu-story", features interviews with Malaysian army veterans and other servicemen who served and fought for our nation. Their stories - of friendship, brotherhood and sacrifice - are now told through the works of seven young filmmakers, animators and visual artist Red Hong Yi.

'As a Sabahan, I hope these artworks and this documentary will also present East Malaysians as an equal to the West, and that we will not be seen as secondary,' says Red Hong Yi. Photo: Aaron Wong'As a Sabahan, I hope these artworks and this documentary will also present East Malaysians as an equal to the West, and that we will not be seen as secondary,' says Red Hong Yi. Photo: Aaron Wong

“Admittedly, there was a lot I didn't know about what the Malaysian veterans have gone through - the pain and reality of war, how it affects their families and lives, their deep love for the country, and also the history of our country and the wars they fought in.

"I hope that these artworks and the documentary will be a way to share their stories especially to the younger generation. I was also deeply touched by how there were so many Malaysians of various backgrounds who fought for our country - of all races, beliefs, backgrounds, and of Malaysians from East and West Malaysia,” says the Kota Kinabalu-born artist, who creates mixed media installations by reinterpreting everyday materials through the accumulation of objects.

“As a Sabahan, I hope these artworks and this documentary will also present East Malaysians as an equal to the West, and that we will not be seen as secondary. That is the symbolism of gathering soil from both East and West Malaysia,” she concludes.

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