Lopung Is Dead! – Pangrok Sulap

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LOPUNG IS DEAD! PA N G R O K S U L A P


This catalogue is published in conjunction with Lopung Is Dead! Pangrok Sulap’s inaugural solo exhibition in Malaysia, held at A+ Works of Art, Kuala Lumpur, 4 — 27 October 2018.

ARTIST Pangrok Sulap

CURATOR Harold Reagan Eswar

PROJECT MANAGEMENT Joshua Lim Nikki Ong Lienne Loy

COPY EDITOR Lee Weng Choy

GRAPHIC DESIGN Kenta.works

PHOTOGRAPHY Damien Khoo Srap Dsign

PRINTER Unico Services


LOPUNG IS DEAD! PA N G R O K S U L A P

Lopung in Dusun means python. In Sabah, people use this term sarcastically and humorously to describe those who sleep on the job and who are lazy and irresponsible in their work. To some, it may seem offensive or derogatory,  but for our new Malaysia, we hope the lopung will be made into pusas (side dish). — Pangrok Sulap


Curatorial Statement HAROLD EGN

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angrok Sulap’s first solo exhibition is one of the Sabahan and Malaysian art scene’s much awaited shows. As far back as art collective movements have been documented throughout the local narrative of our history, there hasn’t been a collective as unique as Pangrok Sulap. It would be appropriate to state that they have found their own, special place in the artistic arena, making their mark and standing their ground not only locally, but also internationally. This exhibition will be another attempt at “the East going to the West”, bringing forward stories from the rural areas of Borneo, of Sabah. Sabahans presenting their works to the audiences in Western Malaysia may not be a new thing, but what makes this exhibition significant is that the works displayed have already been in conversation with foreign or international platforms. The works have been relevant to the movement and progression of the Sabahan art narrative, but they also participate in the Malaysian debate of searching for a larger national art identity. Because without their counterparts from the East, most academics and analysts should only call the work they discuss “West Malaysian Art”. Having said all of this, while it might feel that this exhibition will discuss very serious issues, when you enter into Pangrok Sulap’s show, it will not feel so intense;

in fact, it will not feel intense at all, because their work is fun. Singing, dancing and laughing all the way; this is the Sabahan way of entertaining their guests. Even in times of turmoil or during problematic situations, Sabahans will always find something to be happy about, and there is always something that they are thankful for. This might seem somewhat strange to audiences who are foreign to Sabahan culture, but this is the Sabahan way and, this is Pangrok Sulap. They are an array of young native rural dwellers from the foot of Mount Kinabalu, who are descendants of warriors, headhunters and soldiers. They disguise their artworks in the way of straightforward documentation of daily observations, but beneath the happy, joyful facade, lies the truth about the deeper and more complex sides of Sabahan life. There have been many opinions from individuals outside of the artworld and the creative industry, that this is the best time for collectives like Pangrok Sulap to show their politically inclined artworks as it is the dawn of a new Malaysia. The government has changed to a new one in many aspects — to one with a promising more “rakyat” approach. However, it is actually too late. It is probably time for a new type of art that should be showcased, but Pangrok Sulap being Pangrok Sulap, they prove that no matter what becomes of the nation, there will always be 2


cries for help where there is room for artists like them to step in and assist, in any way their art can help. Pangrok Sulap has always been linked to the political situation in Sabah, especially by being very vocal in their works which regularly depict their observations of “orang atas”, or high ranking people. There are commentators and even some politicians who have voiced opinions about the collective, but whatever political role Pangrok Sulap plays is entirely unintentional. The collective, in their own unique way, have a slightly different method of storytelling than what is conventional. They speak, but not verbally, documenting their experiences and perspectives, so that they can be remembered for a very long time, maybe even forever. They show the power of visual art in Sabah and, safe to say, the whole of the country. Most of Pangrok Sulap’s works are prints. But they also use other media, such as painting, and murals; they also write their own folk songs. One can experience this when the collective prepares the blocks for printing: they dance the sumazau (a traditional Kadazan-Dusun dance) on top of the printing blocks to transfer the ink from the block to cloth or paper. The process that is otherwise very technical becomes a “ritualistic” experience to the visitor or anyone who participates. Why woodcut printing? Pangrok Sulap uses that technique because it is not very well known in rural areas and so villagers find the method interesting. It is a known fact that art supplies in Sabah are, unfortunately, very hard to find, and the quality of these supplies are also questionable. And at first, when the collective started, due to the difficulties of finding supplies, they had to go asking for leftover ink from newspaper printing presses, and were essentially at their mercy, because without ink, no artwork could be produced. However, as Pangrok made connections, things changed and materials became less hard to find. We are now in a “new” Malaysia. Pangrok Sulap will continue documenting their experiences onto cloth and share the truth of their homes with the world. It seems they won’t be slowing down any time soon and as long as they keep inspiring the people of Sabah with their art, people of Sabah will provide the collective with their

inspiring tales. Just like how they depicted the villagers in one of their artworks: “di belakangku ada orang kampong, dan di belakang orang kampong ada saya”. Orang Kampung — Pangrok Sulap Bercucuk tanam hidup sederhana bersaudara dengan alam Makan pinang hisap sigup kirai tangkap ikan dan kejar ayam Ohhh orang kampung 2× Pucuk pakis sayur pucuk ubi tiada garam ada telur masin Manis senyum mesra tutur kata bagai tebu dipinggir bibir Ohhh orang kampung 2× Panas terik jadi teman karib hujan datang itu tanda baik Basah sudah sayur-sayur kebun tumbuh lagi makanan hutan Ohhh orang kampung 2× Kita semua bangsa manusia kita tercipta istimewa Tidak kira miskin atau kaya sedarah berkongsi udara Ohhh orang kampung 4×

HAROLD REAGAN ESWAR, or called by his grandmother as “egn”, is a visual artist, a freelance curator, and a Youtuber with a handful of followers (please subscribe to his channel to boost his ego). He has been active in the Sabah art scene since 2006. As a mid-careered artist, egn has been around, but obviously not long enough. One thing that is obvious about Egn, is his obesity as well as his passion for visual arts, he sees that there is a need to re-introduce arts to Sabah’s young ones (and old), to show them the power that visual arts has in building a healthy and cultured society. Egn and his fellow “crackos” of the Cracko Art Group, which is an art group, has had it up to “here” with Sabahans thinking that art is secondary and not as important as other professions, that require “professionals”. Egn is also on a keto diet to tackle his obesity issue. Egn has been going to schools, colleges and universities, both local and abroad, sharing his experiences and aspirations (without checking the ladies out because he is happily married, with an additional super cute daughter). In addition to his talks, being the funny man that he is, Egn might have something important to share and impart to all paying (and non-paying) participants in regards to the cornerstone, that is the change from the old Malaysia to her new self.

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Ular Lari Lurus The artwork Ular Lari Lurus got its name from a Malay tongue twister; the woodcut print is of a modified snake and ladder board game, with its details depicting satirical local political culture. Just like the popular board game, this particular game of “Ular Lari Lurus” has its beginning and end — the “goal”. You start as a nobody in the political hierarchy, the intention is to move upward, and if you are not swallowed by the snake, you rise to the top of the game, where you receive absolute power and win the game. This artwork, at present, has three different versions; the first is Ular Lari Lurus 1, it depicts the existing nature of the political scene in Sabah. Despite the particularly Sabahan perspective, the piece explores issues that happen all over the world, proving that although the amount of money and names mentioned may differ, corruption is still prevalent everywhere. The second is Ular Lari Lurus 2, a piece that talks about the state of politics just before PRU14, the election that changed Malaysia’s socio-political landscape. It goes so far as to expose the unimaginable level of corruption practiced in our political systems, that still were supported by the people. The latest of the body of work, Ular Lari Lurus 3, lays out the events following PRU14, where those who abused their power and authority are brought to the attention of the law and judged at court; where poetic justice is served. Despite the serious tone of their descriptions, and the severity of the issues mentioned, the three works of Ular Lari Lurus still maintain Pangrok Sulap’s humourous nature and light-hearted perspective, by remaining hopeful in spite of past dark events.

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Ular Lari Lurus 1

2014 Woodcut print on blackout 122 × 244 cm Edition 2

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Ular Lari Lurus 2

2016 Woodcut print on blackout 122 × 244 cm Edition 10 + 2 AP

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Ular Lari Lurus 3

2018 Woodcut print on blackout 122 × 244 cm Edition 10 + 2 AP

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Ular Lari Lurus 3 (detail)


Ular Lari Lurus 1 (detail)


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Ma=Fil=Indo This series tells a tale of a nation built on the idea of “Maphilindo”, a concept that, as fast as it was introduced, was rejected by most of the stakeholders. It shows Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia working together as one, in dealing with their daily struggles and solving them together, strengthening themselves as a single combined nation. Although it is far from actuality, the ideal lingers, as we struggle with the reality of our situation, in regards to issues like migration and education, which would be less of a problem if these three countries could come together to safeguard our various systems. Then again, “Maphilindo” is just a made up dream.

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Ma=Fil=Indo: Kesatuan

2015 Woodcut print on blackout 132 x 83.5 cm Edition 10 + 2 AP

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Ma=Fil=Indo: Agama

2015 Woodcut print on blackout 132 x 83.5 cm Edition 10 + 2 AP

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Ma=Fil=Indo: Perkongsian

2015 Woodcut print on blackout 132 x 83.5 cm Edition 10 + 2 AP

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Ma=Fil=Indo: Kebudayaan

2015 Woodcut print on blackout 132 x 83.5 cm Edition 10 + 2 AP

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Ma=Fil=Indo: Identiti

2015 Woodcut print on blackout 122.5 x 65 cm Edition 10 + 2 AP

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Sabah Tanah Airku One of Pangrok Sulap’s most well-known pieces, Sabah Tanah Airku, comments on the portrayal of Sabah in the media and what really is the case on the ground. For instance, our government-run television, the growing tourism industry and our politicians, all paint a pretty picture of what Sabah is, what with our biodiversity, landscape, animals and people. However, what happens in reality is very much the opposite story. The chaotic politics, racism, the deterioration of our environment, and so many more problematic issues about Sabah that need urgent ďŹ xing, seem to be swept under the rug.

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Sabah Tanah Airku 2017 Woodcut print on blackout Diptych 360 × 240 cm each Edition 10 + 3 AP

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Sabah Tanah Airku (detail)


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Sabah Tanah Airku (detail)


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Sabah Tanah Airku (detail)


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Sabah Tanah Airku (detail)


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Pangrok Sulap Founded in 2010 in Sabah, East Malaysia. Members reside and work in Sabah

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ANGROK SULAP was founded in 2010 by Rizo Leong, Jirum Manjat and Mc Feddy in Sabah, East Malaysia, where it continues to operate. It is a collective of artists, musicians and social activists with the purpose of empowering communities through art. Pangrok Sulap emphasises the DIY spirit — hence its slogan “Jangan Beli, Bikin Sendiri” (Don’t Buy, Do-It-Yourself ). The collective tries to be as open as possible and welcomes the participation and involvement of people to work together on art projects as a means of communication. In the last few years, Pangrok Sulap has conducted workshops for communities and schools across Malaysia and participated in public talks such as TEDxUMSKAL in Labuan, Malaysia. Their prints have been exhibited in galleries and biennales internationally, including Malaysia (AFTERWORK, Ilham Gallery, 2017), Japan (SUNSHOWER: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia 1980s to Now, National Art Center, 2017), India (Kochi-Muziris Biennale, 2018), Australia (The 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT9), QAGOMA, 2018), Philippines (Silingan Seni, Zamboanga City, 2017) and Taiwan (Negotiating The Future, Asian Art Biennial, 2017).

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GROUP EXHIBITIONS 2018 • SENI CETAKAN: Seni Sepanjang Zaman, Bank Negara Malaysia Museum and Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia • People Of The Land, Rainforest Fringe Festival, Borneo744, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia • With Gratitude, Sabah Art Gallery, Sabah, Malaysia

BIENNIALS, TRIENNIALS AND ART FAIRS 2019 • Aichi Triennale 2019, Aichi Prefecture, Japan 2018 • T  he 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT9), QAGOMA, Queensland, Australia • Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018, Kochi, India 2017

2017 • Pameran 300, Sabah Art Gallery, Sabah, Malaysia • Silingan Seni, Zamboanga City, Philippines • SUNSHOWER Exhibition, National Art Center, Tokyo, Japan • VOGS Authentic Sinalau Bakas, Penampang, Sabah, Malaysia • Traditional Tattoo and World Culture, Festival, Mallorca, Spain • Soli Concert & Music, Woodcut Workshop and Exhibition, Zukunft am Ostkreuz, Berlin, Germany • AFTERWORK, Ilham Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia • Escape From The SEA, Balai Seni Visual Negara and Art Printing Works (APW), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia  2016 • W  elcoming Pangrok Sulap, Seikei University, Tokyo, Japan 2015 • H  imawari, Nakano Moonstep, Tokyo, Japan • Being Maphilindo, Sabah Art Gallery, Sabah, Malaysia • Karya Undangan, Sabah Art Gallery, Sabah, Malaysia • Singular Rhapsody, Xin Art Space, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia • Pameran 300, Sabah Art Gallery, Sabah, Malaysia • Peasants and Proletariats, Xin Art Space, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 2014 • P  rintmaking Exhibition, Irregular Rhythm Asylum, Tokyo, Japan 2013 • 3 Sided Coin, South Sea Sanctuary, Sabah, Malaysia

• Negotiating The Future, Asian Art Biennial, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan

SELECTED WORKSHOPS 2018 • W  oodcut Printmaking, Rainforest Fringe Festival, Borneo744 Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia • Sekolah Kebangsaan St James, Tenghilan Sabah, Malaysia 2017 • W  oodcut & Printmaking Workshop, Zukunft am Ostkreuz, Berlin, Germany • Borneo Bengkel, Haus Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia • Silingan Seni Project: A Cross Border Art Initiative of Mindanaoan and Sabahan Visual Artists, Sekolah Kebangsaan Pekan Ranau Sabah, Malaysia 2016 • B  engkel Cungkil & Cetak, Kampung Sinarut Baru, Ranau Sabah, Malaysia • Sekolah Tunas Bakti, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia 2015 • Gerakan Seni 2015, SMK Bandar Baru Sentul, Malaysia

TALKS AND DISCUSSIONS 2018 • A  rtist Talk – Pangrok Sulap Collective, EP ArtSpace, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia 2017 • F  abpublic – Talking about textiles, community and public space, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong • Art That Speaks, TED×UMSKAL, Labuan, Malaysia • Biar Seni Jadi Suara, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Malaysia

PUBLIC COLLECTIONS • Singapore Art Museum • Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art • Mori Art Museum, Japan

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Acknowledgements A+ Works of Art and Pangrok Sulap would like to thank: Borneo Arts Scene Joshua Lim Kenta Chai Lienne Loy Malaysia Arts Scene Nadira Llana Nikki Ong Pangrok Sulap’s Family and Friends Rachel Ng Vilashini Somiah Yap Sao Bin Yee I-Lann Syukur to the Almighty

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A+ WORKS of ART d6 - G - 8 d6 Trade Centre 801 Jalan Sentul 51000 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia +60 18 333 3399 info@aplusart.asia Opening Hours 12 pm – 7 pm, Tuesday to Saturday Closed on Sunday, Monday and Public Holidays Copyright © A+ WORKS of ART 2018.  All rights reserved. All articles and illustrations contained in this catalogue are subject to copyright law. Any use beyond the narrow limits defined by copyright law, and without the expressed permission of the publisher, is forbidden and will be prosecuted. Edition of 500 Printed in Malaysia ISBN 978 967 15431 8 4

A+ WORKS of ART is a contemporary art gallery based in Kuala Lumpur. Founded in 2017, A+ WORKS of ART strives to engage contemporary practices and discussions in new media art, especially photography, video, Installation and performance art. While the main geographic scope of the gallery is Malaysia and the rest of Southeast Asia, it keeps its ears attuned to global conversations on social issues, critical imagination and material experimentation. Collaboration is the key ethos of A+ WORKS of ART, based in the belief that wonderful things can happen when people share and exchange ideas. Artists working with gallery are not so much represented by the gallery but engaged in an ongoing conversation and collaboration. Likewise, curators, writers, collectors and galleries are welcome to initiate conversations about potential collaborations. The name, A+, refers then not just to the gallery’s strive for distinction and professionalism in its services and working processes, but also a sense of readiness to start a dialogue with any interested party. Founded by Joshua Lim, who has decades of experience in the hospitality industry, A+ WORKS of ART represents a natural progression for the avid art lover. Lim has been an art supporter for the past decade through his ongoing art acquisition and his promotion of contemporary art in his network.