Twenty-five year old digital artist Merissa Victor is thrilled that Malaysia is hosting its first Women’s Tribunal on Nov 27-28.
“I think it is a step in the right direction to redefine what justice means in our country and to really platform affected women, to truly listen to them and hold space for their stories and experiences,” she says.
So it was without hesitation that Merissa said yes when she was approached by a member of the Women’s Tribunal steering committee to work on a video for the inaugural event.
“I’m extremely humbled to have been asked to contribute to the project. Women’s issues and rights are something I've been passionate about ever since primary school, and I’m grateful to be able to contribute my art and skills to uplift and elevate an event such as the Women’s Tribunal,” says Merissa who is currently in Canada for work.
Malaysia’s first Women’s Tribunal, to take place this weekend (Nov 27 and 28), aims to provide an alternative form of justice and advocacy for women who have experienced violence or discrimination in any form. It will present the lived realities of women in Malaysia through proceedings that involve the testimonies of witnesses, presentations of advocates, and verdict of a panel of “judges”.
Merissa who makes films, animation and illustration pieces for her clients who comprise local (Malaysian) brands, organisations and other artists, says that she is currently working on her art and collaborating with other artists in Canada.
“The Women's Tribunal steering committee member saw the work I did for a local musician, Bihzhu’s single Chendering, and reached out to me to see if I would be interested to contribute my art and skill for the event, which of course I was!” she says.
“From conceptualisation to making about four drafts which eventually led to the final piece, it took about three months to complete the video. I worked closely with the Women’s Tribunal team to really hone in on the concept and ensure that their intention was conveyed through the images,” she adds.
Merissa says that she also worked with SHAF, a Malaysian musician who is currently based in London, England, for the music used in the video.
According to Merissa, the concept of the short film and its design elements are closely tied to the origins and purpose of Women’s Tribunal, and the lives and experiences of Malaysian women.
“Reflecting on the origins and purpose of the Women's Tribunal, the piece I created follows the life of a seedling. The seedling, after generations upon generations of nourishment, care and pollination, flourishes into a thriving garden, full of lush, majestic flowers.
“The Women’s Tribunal is just one of the first steps in redefining justice for women in Malaysia. But it's my hope that this will continue and facilitate the necessary work and inspire other movements that will enable Malaysia to achieve gender equality - just as a seedling will one day grow into a flourishing and thriving garden of plants,” she says.
“On the design elements, our shared culture and heritage are as unique and diverse as all the many Malaysian women and their life experiences. So, it was really important for us (the Women’s Tribunal team, SHAF and me) to make it distinctly Malaysian as we uplifted and celebrated various aspects of Malaysian culture. Some of the visual elements include batik patterns, paddy fields, flowers native to Malaysia and the colours of our Jalur Gemilang, while the music features some gamelan,” she explains.
“I hope the video will convey a sense of hope and foster a community among women and every other gender in Malaysia. We’re in this together and together, we can inspire and enact change in our own communities,” she concludes.
More info at: womenstribunalmalaysia.com/