Art exhibition enthusiasts, you certainly don’t want to miss this, from November 23-27, 2022, the interactive exhibition (free admission) and performance sem/bunyi by Kuching, Sarawak-based arts platform Borneo Bengkel will be held at the Hin Bus Depot Gallery in Penang as part of the George Town Literary Festival (GTLF).
Stories that are “hidden in plain sight” and other tales that are frequently forgotten or overlooked are explored in Borneo Bengkel Sem/Bunyi. Its name is derived from a combination of two words: sembunyi and bunyi, which means “to hide,” and “sound”.
Poetry & Audiovisual
Poetry and audiovisual installations from Borneo (Sarawak, Sabah, and Kalimantan) and Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England are assembled in sem/bunyi, with a focus on identity, indigenous languages, folk music, and found sound.
Explore And Reflect Audiovisual Documentations
Screens and QR codes are strategically placed throughout the Borneo Bengkel Sem/Bunyi exhibition, allowing visitors to explore and reflect on audiovisual documentations of identity, indigenous languages, folk music, and found sound, and to create their own sonic journey.
Cultural Practitioners & Poets To Perform
On November 26 at 11 am, there will be a guided tour of the exhibition space, during which visitors will learn more about the digital origins of the collaborations represented in the audio-visual works on display. Catriona Maddocks and Sonia Luhong Wan are heading up the curatorial team for this event.
On the last night of the George Town Literary Festival, four cultural practitioners and poets from East Malaysia will perform in front of a live audience alongside invited guests from GTLF’s 2022 programme as part of the Borneo Bengkel sem/bunyi exhibition tour.
Sabahan artists and activists Nadira Ilana and Adi HJ join Sarawakians Adrian Jo Milang (a practitioner of traditional Kayan oral art forms parap and takna’) and visual artist/poet Bethany Balan onstage. Parap performer Adrian Jo Milang, spoken word artist Bethany Balan, and videographer Reza Darwin will host a curatorial sharing session.
Immersive and Experimental Approach
Founder of Borneo Bengkel, Catriona Maddocks on Borneo Bengkel Sem/Bunyi, said:
The works we are presenting were produced throughout the pandemic, when despite national lockdowns we managed to create these two really exciting collaborative projects: Soundbank, which gathered 16 international musicians to document and record music, folk songs, and sounds from the world around them, and Lingua Franca, a spoken word performance which presented works by diverse and often marginalised poets from the UK and Malaysia. We’re really excited to have the chance to present these in person for the first time ever and see how visitors interact with them.Catriona Maddocks, Founder of Borneo Bengkel
Visual Artist of Borneo Bengkel, Sonia Luhong Wan stated:
Both of these projects came from the realisation that while we were all so separated from one another, the virtual world gives us so many opportunities to connect with people from afar. There are such rich folk songs, cultural heritage, and diverse voices in both Borneo and the UK. We wanted to utilise virtual technology to bring these creatives together in order to create conversations about race, gender, religion and identity. It’s a great experience to now translate all of that into a physical exhibition.Sonia Luhong Wan, Visual Artist
The Schedule Of The Event Of Borneo Bengkel Sem/Bunyi
Visitors who are interested to learn more about the particular events can arrange their plan according to this schedule (free admission):
|23 – 27 November||sem/bunyi exhibition||12 pm – 7 pm|
|26 November||Exhibition tour & curatorial sharing session||11 am|
|27 November||sem/bunyi spoken word & cultural perormances||7.30 pm|
Continuous Support Of Borneo Bengkel From British Council In Malaysia
Support for the international collaborations was provided by the British Council Malaysia’s Connections Through Culture grant programme, which will also be providing support for the presentation of the work during GTLF 2022 which is British Council’s arts mobility grant that aims to seed online cultural exchanges between Britain and South-East Asia.
Head of Arts and Creative industries at the British Council in Malaysia, Florence Lambert shared:
We’re delighted to continue to support the work of Borneo Bengkel and their international collaborators, as they are engaging in really important and necessary conversations of identity, belonging and cultural heritage. In partnering with GTLF the work continues to evolve and reach new audiences as well as present new opportunities for Bornean and British creatives to connect and co-create.Florence Lambert, Head of Arts and Creative industries at the British Council in Malaysia