Friday, 21 September till Sunday, 7th October 2007: Sharon Chin’s Sensor
The Annexe Gallery, Central Market
An exhibition of new works by Sharon Chin
Fri 21 Sep 2007, 8pm
The Annexe Gallery, Central Market
Refreshments are served
Exhibition dates: Fri 21 Sep ‚Äì Sun 7 Oct, 2007
The Annexe Gallery, 2nd Floor, Central Market Annexe, KL
Opening hours: 11am ‚Äì 7pm (Mon ‚Äì Sat), 11am ‚Äì 5pm (Sun)
Enquiries: 03 2274 6542, 03 2070 1137
Admission is free
SENSORS: THE ARTIST STATEMENT
‘The totalitarian order depends for its very existence on a precarious equilibrium. Without the heretic, the rebel, the writer, the state crumbles: yet by tolerating him, the ruler equally well seals his fate. As least by implication, Big Brother’s mighty system disappears because he wanted to eradicate the dissident – but could not do without him’. – Andre Brink-
‚ÄòSexual organs move independently of will‚Ä¶ from this disobedience of the flesh, mark of a fallen state, none are exempt, not even in the guardians of our morals‚Äô. – J.M. Coetzee-
Sensors is an exhibition that takes banned books as a motif. Central to the show is the idea that the process of censorship is essentially arbitrary in nature. A book may be banned in Malaysia according to detailed guidelines, but any attempt to objectively define these guidelines is difficult. The 1500 or so banned titles (since 1971) only suggest, not define, what is deemed forbidden, transgressive or offensive in our society. Thinking about censorship draws for us merely shadowy shapes of our fears, which disappear like wraiths when exposed in the light of knowledge and discourse.
Sensors comprises an installation in two parts, housed in two adjacent gallery spaces. The first consists of a buzz wire game ‚Äì the sort commonly found at fun fairs, in which the player runs a little hoop along a bent wire, attempting to reach the end of the wire without touching it. If the hoop touches the wire, a buzzer goes off and the player loses.
In Sensors, several buzz wires stretch along the length of the gallery. The shape of the wire follows a histogram chart of categories of books that have been banned in Malaysia from 1971 to the present day. The viewer is invited to play with the buzz wire. Each time the hoop touches the wire, a warning light goes off. In this way, information about banned books becomes a spatial entity negotiated physically by the audience.
The second installation is in the adjacent space, which is blacked out. Viewers are provided with handheld torches to navigate the work which consists of several ‚Äòdoors‚Äô hanging in space. The viewers open the ‚Äòdoors‚Äô to discover monsters and mythical creatures that have been painted on lists of banned books. They may examine these works only by the dim light of the torch. The secret, irrational atmosphere of this installation is in contrast with that of the other space, which is ostensibly characterized by objectivity, empiricism and rationality.
Rather than lament the lack of access to banned materials, this exhibition seeks to explore censorship as a paradoxical and complex process. The completion of this project was made possible with the generous support of a grant from the inaugural Krishen Jit Astro Fund.
Sharon Chin was born in KL in 1980. Returning from studies in New Zealand and Australia (Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland, 2001; BFA, Victorian College of the Arts, 2003), this young artist has already made quite an impact on the Malaysian art scene. Working with text and sculpture, especially in site- specific installations, her work looks at how we negotiate geography, history, human relations and language in the contemporary imagination.
Her most recent body of work, Fourth World, was shown at the Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur in 2006. She also writes regularly on art for various local publications, including The Star, Kakiseni and Off The Edge.