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Su Mei Tan and Adam Tambakau
Movement in a Teacup - Main Cut
Movement in a Teacup How national trauma can inform the individual By Su Mei Tan Video by Adam Tambakau This piece of public performance takes into account the everyday, reading the newspaper, having a cup to tea. The source of the artwork stems from a piece of artwork which the artist had written almost 10 years ago, when Malaysia was at the height of its reformation movement. The writing speaks about some of the traumatic events that happened nationally since the birth of the country, how the country has been ‘raped’ from its wealth, natural resources and freedom of speech. Accompanying this is a newspaper made out of collages from a national newspaper, “The Star”, images from the internet and personal photographs. The writing and newspaper intertwines the artist’s personal story, how her grandfather and father has been working towards nation building, eventually ending in the individual trauma that the artist experience with a mental illness which was triggered by several national events. While the poem is being read, the audience is invited to leaf through the newspapers, and drink cups of tea made by the artist which hold different indentations/representations of mental health suffering of members of “My Kolektif”, a Malaysian Mental Health Arts Collective which is a community the artist has been building as part of her Honours in Social Practice and Community Engagement at the Victorian College of the Arts. This artwork will be part of an online exhibition by “My Kolektif” and is made specifically for the collective’s purpose. Despite having this performance outside of Malaysia, the site chosen is specific to the cause. The brazier in the Wilin Garden in Southbank, represents the fight that both Australia and Malaysia face in terms of empowerment in coping with the effects of colonization. Malaysia, despite having been ‘freed’ from the British Colonial rule, is still facing the effects of post-colonialization with the same colonial mentality kept by some of the local rulers, similarly to the indigenous Australians. Despite the circumstances both countries have risen like ‘roses that grew out of the concrete’. The divide between races in Malaysia (which is a repercussion of the British) is still evident and there are many higher powers wanting to divide and conquer. The Malaysians, like the Australian Aboriginals still stand strong in their cultures and beliefs. The brazier in the Wilin Garden will bring together an Australian Aboriginal elder to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land, followed by the acknowledgement of the indigenous tribes in Malaysia by the artist before the performance starts.
Cups of Lived Experience
Cups of clay with the voices of some of the founding members of My Kolektif to represent their lived experience with mental health. Made with the intention to be used in a tea ceremony as part of a final project performance for an honours in social practice and community engagement at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne.
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