A venue physically transformed into a hive of bamboo fixtures, installations and sculptures. An NFT and digital art takeover at a local museum. Tales of legendary Malay princesses retold through contemporary opera in a historical theatre hall.
The list of highlights continues with pop-up markets (from plants to traditional craft) and indie film screenings right to mind-bending installations and dance/music performances.
That's the upcoming KLWKND event which takes place across selected arts and culture spaces in Kuala Lumpur, including Panggung Bandaraya DBKL, REXKL, Central Market, GMBB Mall, The Godown KL and Muzium Telekom from Nov 25-28.
There is something here for everyone, with multiple events set to welcome the masses to themed "festival villages" at each venue.
“Malaysians should head down to KL for this event as it’s a great chance to explore and rediscover KL and fall in love again with the city. After staying indoors for more than a year, KLWKND gives you the opportunity to experience our arts and culture scene and support Malaysian talents,” says festival director Joe Sidek, who helms KLWKND.
Experience the capital city like never before through performing arts, books, history, food and fashion.
“I believe it’s so important for the arts to heal and allow us to see things positively,” he adds.
KLWKND is a free admission event, except for a tea set fashion show at the Ruma Hotel.
Map your KL weekend
What have bamboo and dance have to do with each other? Dancers-choreographers Raziman Sarbini, Aida Redza, Suhaili Micheline, Pexstret Liu and Lee Swee Keong are set to show performing arts lovers how nature and bamboo are a force of life through movement and dance in the Art Of Dance show (Nov 26) at Panggung Bandaraya.
REXKL, formerly an old cinema in downtown KL, is set to attract cinephiles with Art Of Film – Shorts, a weekend screening of two award-winning short films (Batik Girl and The Dalang's Tale) by filmmaker Irwan Junaidy, while a video essay tribute by filmmaker/publisher Amir Muhammad celebrating the works the late actor/director Tan Sri Jins Shamsuddin is not to be missed.
Buku2Books, also happening at REXKL offers a digital library that allows the public to access rarely seen archive materials about KL and Malaysia. This pop-up literary event is presented by Selangor State Library, US Library of Congress, The British Library, Imperial War Museum and others.
LoveMYBatik (Nov 25-28), an exhibit featuring some of the best batik art paintings in private and public collections, is set to happen at the GMBB mall, an emerging arts hub in the capital.
Digital art is set to take the spotlight at Muzium Telekom. Yayasan TM is collaborating with Detik, a unique NFT project team to present the NFT-JAM Challenge (Nov 25-28) where digital artists will meet up in the Detik-created Newsantara metaverse.
"KLWKND's layered programming is bound to appeal to all. We've got so many Malaysian talents from across the country converging for this special weekend in KL," says Joe.
"Artisans and craftspeople from Sabah, Sarawak, Kelantan, Terengganu, and Penang will be ready to meet the urban public, while dancers from KL and Penang look set to give us some spectacular shows. The list just goes on with fashion designers also well-represented and NFT artists raring to give you a glimpse of what's trending in Malaysian art. In one weekend, you can discover so much – from old world to digital future – and the local flavour is guaranteed," he adds.
Take a stroll, enjoy opera
If you need to stretch out and take a walk through KL’s iconic sites and its oldest and historic areas, then you can join a heritage trail hosted by Free Walk Kuala Lumpur Unscripted.
The guides will take you through the city’s streets, lanes, and back alleys and share stories about the city’s origins, of how and why people migrated to the city, learn about forgotten pioneers, historic architecture and more.
Forest In The City at High Street Studio (the soon-to-be Think City office) is the place to visit at KLWKND if you’re experiencing pandemic fatigue. It promises pop-up spaces that fuse technology and nature, where rooms will be converted into ambient "chambers" to relax and enjoy natural sounds and sights.
One event that is bound to grab the attention of arts lovers is Opera Serikandi Nusantara: The Preview, which will take place at Panggung Bandaraya DBKL on Nov 25 (8.30pm).
Dr Tazul Tajuddin, a critically-acclaimed composer, helms this contemporary operatic musical, fusing Malay traditional art forms Mak Yong, Menora, wayang kulit with modern compositions, gamelan and digital visual content.
This Opera Serikandi Nusantara preview performance at KLWKND serves as a teaser event, giving the public an early taste of the reimagined tales of Malay princesses such as Puteri Gunung Ledang, Puteri Saadong, Puteri Hang Li Po, and Puteri Santubong. Opera Serikandi Nusantara is slated for a May 2022 premiere in KL.
“In composition and performance, Opera Serikandi Nusantara explores the hybridity, the mix between East and West... the Western art form of opera and arias with a local story, and local performers. I hope the audience will appreciate the work we are doing,” says Dr Tazul.
He adds that a festival like KLWKND is important in this pandemic recovery phase to feed a major city like KL with “cultural activities, performing arts, music, arts... an event to bring life and soul to the city.”
Opera Serikandi Nusantara is based on Legendary Princesses Of Malaysia, a children’s book by Raman Krishnan and illustrated by Emila Yusof.
Malaysian literature fans also are in for a treat with the Memperkenalkan Sasterawan Negara event (Nov 28), also happening at Panggung Bandaraya DBKL.
The programme features Dr Muhammad Haji Salleh, Datuk Dr Siti Zainon Ismail, Datuk Dr Mohd. Anwar Rethwan and Datuk Dr Zurinah Hassan. These National Laureates, who’ve made huge contributions to the development of Bahasa Malaysia literature, will discuss their literary journeys and share excerpts of their work pertaining to city, country and nationality.
KLWKND is part of the Cultural Economy Development Agency's (Cendana) Art In The City 2021 programme.
More info and full programme list here.