stopover 2005-a review

(performances by Japanese, Singaporean & Malaysian artist)

29th May 2005 – 30th May 2005

UBU [Universiti Bangsar Utama]
54B-1, Jalan Kemuja, Off Jalan Bangsar,
Kuala Lumpur, 59000

(29th)-5.30pm continues til 8 (performances)
(30th)-8.00pm till late

Japan Artists:
Seiji SHIMODA, Makoto MURAYAMA, Kazuhiro NISHIJIMA, Rei SHIBATA and Midori KADOKURA, Haruki

Singapore Artists:
Kai LAM, Andree WESCHLER, Rizman PUTRA, Katak KUDUNG, Tang Da Wu and Juliana Yasin

Malaysia Artists:
Ahmad Fuad Osman, AngkasawanegarA, Cesar CHONG, Ray LANGENBACH (USA/Malaysia), Zaslan ZEEHA, Akbar aka BEBE (Indonesia/Malaysia)

Supported by:
National Arts Council & Japan Foundation

Venue sponsor:
UBU [Universiti Bangsar Utama]

Kai lam, Juliana Yasin, Ili farhana & Razman

Official photographers:
Juliana Yasin
Kai Lam

about the EVENT:

STOPOVER is a performance art event that creates a platform for the meeting of Japanese, Singaporean and Malaysian artists. The event is programmed with the objective to create awareness and appreciation for performance art in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

This upcoming event is the second leg of STOPOVER, the first was held in Singapore at Front Room Gallery on the 18th and 19th of May 2005. STOPOVER event will be held at UBU in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur from 29th May 2005 to 30 May 2005,

Besides encouraging cultural exchange and understanding through the event, STOPOVER also seeks to accentuate artistic practice, research and development of performance art.




this article is taken from the edge, back in 2005. The review on STOPOVER was written by Hishamuddin Rais. Enjoy reading!

Two evenings with more than 15 performances were enough to educate me on the meaning of performance art. What took place in late May 2005 at UBU was rather ground-breaking. I meant ground-breaking here in our kampung called Malaysia, not in Pekan Paris, Sungai Thames or Tembok Berlin. What took place at UBU pushed the artistic boundaries further than Salleh Ben Joned urinating at a third-rate art show in 1971.-Hishamuddin Rais-

tapai: a pontianak at bangsar utama

-story by hishamuddin rais -short interview with Ili Farhana Norhayat & Bebek Taring Padi

This article was printed from

When I was a little boy my late grandmother used to tell me, ‘Dalam dunia ini ada 999 macam gila.’ I thought that was a statement from an existentialist artist. After all, my granny was an artist – she anyam mengkuang leaves and turned them into beautiful tikar. She designed little boxes from dried coloured mengkuang to keep her sireh pinang apparatus. But I never fully comprehended her ‘gila’ statement. Not until last May when I was invited to an art show at UBU – Universiti Bangsar Utama.

I have always dreamt of being an artist of some sort. Ages ago, I was so desperate to get my sajak printed in a local magazine that I used Tongkat Warrant as my pen name, only to receive a note from the editor: Sila ambil perhatian, nama samaran ini telah digunakan oleh Usman Awang. Maybe I failed to be a sasterawan Melayu. Alas, nowadays I describe myself as a romantic struggling artist – the kind that lived in Soho, London, or in Paris before the Second World War.

So, when UBU invited me to the Two Evenings of Performance Art Show, I considered it my great luck to be associated with loads of artists. They were all foreign artists – from Japan, France, Singapura, Gombak and Pandan Indah. Foreign artists always impress me – they are so foreign.

I had no clue what performance art was all about. Ili Farhana, the organiser, enlightened me: ‘Not painting lah, that is too conventional and too clichéd. The body of the artist is part of the art work.’ For a sweet twentysomething, a siswazah seni halus from UiTM, Ili Farhana has a beautiful body herself. A walking piece of non-Rubenesque art work.

I accepted the invitation with an open mind. When I arrived at Dewan UBU, a lecture was being given by Senji Shimoda – the Japanese guru of performance art. He is an artist/professor at Osaka City University who has been invited all over the globe. The Bessie Awards 2000 from the New York Dance and Performance Award was given to him. Shimoda was my initiator and guru in the visual pleasures of performance art.

After the lecture, Ms Midori Kadokura, an artist from Saitama, Japan, distributed buah longan to the audience in the hall. I thought she must have bought them in Petaling Street – a few blocks from their hotel. After distributing them, she sat on a chair and started to eat the remaining longan. The seeds were dropped one by one from her mouth into a glass on the floor. She then poured all the seeds back into her mouth and started chewing. After a few minutes, she regurgitated the seeds into the glass. She stood up and moved slowly to recollect her longan from the audience. She repeated her performance several times until the well-chewed biji longan was almost liquified. She threw a piece of thin, white paper on the floor and started some sort of lukisan. Then she bowed. The audience applauded.

I looked around and saw everyone smiling and nodding their heads. I had no clue what was going on. Either Shimoda, my guru, failed me or I am simply thick. The Bangsar artist-wannabe crowd was so overwhelmed by the performance. At that moment, all I hoped for was that John Berger would write another Art of Seeing for idiots like me.

After a few Zen experiences from the Japanese, our kiasu neighbour took the floor. He was easy, simple and well understood. He was making teh tarik. I was amazed that making teh tarik is a performance art. Thanks to Dawu from Singapura I can no longer shout at the mamak for making my teh too sweet. I could be insulting a great artist at the warong.

That Sunday’s special must have been from Makato Maruyama from Negano, Japan. He came to UBU with the concept of Fragile Body. I thought his performance was apt for the UBU crowd. After muntah biji longan, Walking on Fire, and Not a Blow Job from a French artist, the beautiful well-crafted body of Maruyama brought back my sensuality to that of Oshima’s Ai No Corrida. In a split second, my sensibilities were assaulted. Suddenly, I was not a struggling artist from Soho anymore. I was a voyeur looking at a naked man.

This is where I am really confused – where art ends and pornography begins. If Maruyama stood naked in a gay club in Bukit Bintang, would that be performance art or could our Islamic brigades rush in and do a number on his ‘uncut’. Such a thought came but it went away because I was too deep into Maruyama’s fragile body and no art theory could interest me.

The second evening was more exciting. After the first night, the vibes must have spread all over town. UBU’s hall and the rooftop of Wisma Malaysiakini were packed. Fuad Osman from Pandan Indah came with his self parody or was it a critique on the art scene? Juliana and tight-arse-buntut-hitam Rizaman from Singapura beautifully entertained the audience with Game Boy.

The most awaited performance must have been from Ray Langenbach, a ronin artist from Boston. Last year, he drank his own urine at a performance in Singapore. Well, to me, drinking one’s own urine is not very original in this part of the world. The late Indian Prime Minister Morarji Desai drank his urine daily as part of an Ayurvedic ritual.

But at UBU that evening, the Bostonian ronin did something that has only been done in the late Fifties by our legendary pontianak, Maria Minado. Minado did it on celluloid but Langenbach pushed the boundary by doing it with a live audience. Ray, dressed like a Mak Cik Kampung from Amerika, read a chapter from Edgar Allen Poe’s The Pit and The Pendulum. Dr Ruben, a skin specialist, came to aid his performance. A needle was pierced into Ray’s vein and blood oozed out into a wine glass.

While the blood accumulated, Ray continued to read a chapter on the reign of terror after the French Revolution. The reading of that chapter ended up with Ray drinking his own blood. There was silence in the dewan, then a commotion broke out. A front-row audience member jatuh pitam. I rushed to the bathroom and vomited. A few guys were already at the sinks, puking their guts out.

Much later, I asked Ray why he had drunk his own blood. His response was seriously ideological. ‘It is the USA. A metaphor for capitalism. How capitalism survived by drinking the blood of the poor…’ To me, his answer was a sign of disgust from an artist towards his own American government brutalising ordinary people in Iraq, or anywhere, for that matter.

After that bloody pontianak performance, the audience was cheered up by Kumpulan Angkasawan Negara. Rahmat Haron, Man Jambu dan Pijan are Bangsar artist-wannabes. With bad, pitchy voices and no training in music, they decided to strip naked. They tied up their punai and started flouncing around with a guitar and video recorder. It was a real punai-watching night.

Two evenings with more than 15 performances were enough to educate me on the meaning of performance art. What took place in late May 2005 at UBU was rather ground-breaking. I meant ground-breaking here in our kampung called Malaysia, not in Pekan Paris, Sungai Thames or Tembok Berlin. What took place at UBU pushed the artistic boundaries further than Salleh Ben Joned urinating at a third-rate art show in 1971.

Could anyone push the artistic sensibilities and social boundaries further than a beautiful well-crafted naked body tattooed with tulisan Jawi? The next kumpulan seni that tries to stage a performance art show must push harder or they will be an imitator of UBU or just a poor photocopy. Maybe someone will. Please remember what my late existentialist grandmother told me: Gila ini ada 999 macam. There you are, the space is wide open.




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