Friday, October 26, 2007

New Sunday Times, 21 October 2007

Spincity: Let art move you

Commuting by train need not be boring thanks to a group of young artistes, writes VIMALA SENEVIRATNE

IN most cities, including Kuala Lumpur, the underground train is not really an exciting way to get round – after all there is not much to look at a couple of metres under the ground. But the scene at the KTM station at KL Sentral will soon change when several youngsters pool their talents to offer commuters a change in scene.

Eleven artistes from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines will showcase their individual talent by actively engaging train commuters for their works.

"The main idea is to bring arts to the people in real and everyday encounters. What we want to do is fill the KTM commuter trains and train stations with creative works and to let the arts move people physically and emotionally," says Lim Kok Yoong, , the project director who is also a lecturer and multimedia designer at Multimedia Unversity (MMU) in Cyberjaya.

This public arts project, called Let Arts Move You, took almost a year to materialise, and will run from Oct 27 to Nov 4.

The artistes will use KTM commuter trains plying the KL–Seremban route, KL Sentral and the old Kuala Lumpur railway station as platforms for their works.

Artworks will be located both inside the train, in the stations and the surrounding grounds.

The KTM commuter trains provide 248 commuter services daily, serving 41 stations along a 175km route from KL to Rawang and Seremban and from KL to Sentul and Pelabuhan Kelang. The trains leave KL Sentral every 20 minutes.

Co-curator of the project, Yap Sau Bin, a lecturer at MMU, says: "Most often, commuters are either reading a book or paper, staring into space or sleeping on the trains.

"We want to change that. We want to take the act of commuting beyond the mundane, and routine journeys – we want to let people know that travelling on public transport can be a sensorial and educational experience."

During the week-long event, the artistes will explore the mobility of the commuter trains by opening a dialogue between the physical space (train/station) and time (duration of travel/specific hour).

"One of the artistes will be having a karaoke session and he will invite commuters waiting for the train, to join in. Another artiste will have a reading session – poetry, a passage from a novel - on board the train," says Yap, an artist whose works were featured at the 52nd Venice Biennale 2007.

A big mural, located at the KTM commuter foyer at the KL Sentral station, will be created by Malaysian artist Shieko Hussien. She will work on the mural from Oct 22 to 27 and it will be on display for the duration of the exhibition.

"Our invited artiste from Singapore, Ulric Lau will project his video works on underground subway walls and the exterior body of passing trains, while thespian Donna Miranda from the Philippines will interact with passengers.

"Often train passengers do not talk to each although they may sit beside each other. She's going to break the ice," says Lim.

The other artistes are Goh Lee Kwang, Kamal Sabran, Kok Siew Wai, Lau Mun Leng, Muid Latiff (Malaysia), Li Cassidy-Peet (Singapore), Sa Dewa and Wok The Rock (Indonesia).

There will also be digital prints on train hand railings as well as on overhead display panels.

All art works will be on display daily from 7am until 11pm daily for the duration of the event.

Let Arts Move You is curated by Lim, Yap and Roopesh Sitharan who is an artist-lecturer based in San Francisco, US.

It is organised by Kolektif Pembangun Seni, in partnership with KTM Bhd.

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