Suhaimi Fadzir , 'What is the meaning of Independence: Indigenous Migrants Colonial'
By: Faizal Sidik
Citing what Robert Rauschenberg once said "the role of artist is a witness to the history of time" Throughout his life, he has created artwork based on social comment on cultural diversity and global dialogue such as war, equality of rights, nuclear disarmament, aparted base, economic development, the rights of artists and environmental issues which surrounding the themes according to which the artist today is worth emphasizing. Suhaimi Fadzir artworks 'What is the meaning of Independence: Indigenous migrants Colonial' 2010-2012 is not only a work of installation but also a social space that dialogue with the narrative history of Malaysia.
I can divided Suhaimi’s installation into three sections or segments. First, assemblage works on walls that still refers to square format paintings. Second, the combination of painting and sculpture that used found objects that been composed on the floor such as ladders, shovels, sand traps, pieces of rubber machinery. While the third is a hanger installation as bird cage. These three elements creates a visual language system that attempts to expressed the view of an artist.
Famous Communication theorist Marshall McLuhan stated that “ the medium is the message”. “Whats the meaning of Independence, Indigenous Colonial Migrants” installations can be seen as an artwork that load with questions from the material culture perspective presented. Viewing from the first part, Suhaimi’s experimented with placement of the object using “find-select-paste” technique in assemblage presentation. It can be seen in printed posters of communist party leaders Moa Tse Tung of China are juxtaposed with image of Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia's first Prime Minister in the top right, lamps and light gas oil or hanged gasoline synonymous as the light source before independence by the presence of electricity.
In this format assemblage painting he restructured the political system divide and rule made by the British colonial administration in time to facilitate their placement when dividing the three major races like the Malays as farmers and fishermen in the villages and coastline with fish imagery, the Chinese as miner with photos dredger near the picture of Mao and the president of India in rubber plantations as tappers in rubber tree tapping tool on the right to visualise the colonial ruling before independence.
Discussing on Suhaimi’s asemblage techniques , it reminds me of an exhibition titled 'The Art of assemblage' is fostered by the artistic stratification William Seitz at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in 1961. He observed practical artistic done by artist Pablo Picasso that have brought in an outside material into the art of the so-called art as a found ‘object '. Experimentation by the Dada and Surrealist movements that have used the object to bring the audience of this work has changed the way in the fabrication work afterwards.
Found Object of 'outside art' such as popular brands such as curry pastes Babas, bottles and mixed cans drinks that are halal and haram have been arranged in the row as a Pop Warhol print, mass media front page such as Utusan Malaysia, which is the main media news source for the Malays and photo famous 60's pop icon John Lennon and Yoko Ono where one can interpreted as the replenishment of independence by the indigenous and cultural influences brought by immigrants into the local culture.
In the second part, his constructive assemblage work plays with symbols and metaphoric economic activities such as rubber machinery, rubber cutter, rubber sheets or scrap rubber as the main economic resources during the occupation. The symbol of progress and development can be seen on the ladder, shovels sand that printed the sacred date of independence 31.08.57. While the wooden stairs was been used as the symbolism of the effort to achieve a sense of hope. Lack of freedom and trap metaphorically used as fish traps. All this painting and constructive sculpture is a combination technique presented in a casual space.
The third part was the three bird cages as iconography of social freedom with life bird, two of them being hanged and one was on the floor as if trying to take a step further reform of polemic exhibition ever held before this' Towards to Mystical Reality" by Redza Piyadasa and Sulaiman Esa by inserting the element smell of pigeons as a representation of freedom of art is rarely used in Malaysia. It can only smell when audience in real space.
When Marcel Duchamp first exhibited with the casual 'Toilet Bowl' and 'Bicycle Wheel' in the context of this gallery, it has opened a new dimension to the visual artist in the use of what has been said by Duchamp as 'readymades'. Duchamp exploration is directly absorbed by post-avant-garde artists of America Rauschenberg where he had introduced "combine painting" that uses popular culture material in which the phenomenon of 'hybridity' or diversity in the paintings and sculptures created by artists for a decade from 1954 to 1964 .
Structural combination of painting and building or 'Archi-painting' Suhaimi’s was inspired by a combination of these two 'readymades' Duchamp and "combine-painting" Rauschenberg, but what distinguishes is the context of the narrative. What is behind the work are the cultural objects used by Suhaimi after the post Rauschenbergian and Post Duchampian by using local or cultural tone of the local economy. He constructed or rebuild the used of scrap materials or 'junk culture' of objects that have been purchase on "cash-and-carry object 'in our lives to bring urban culture to contemporary issues of today.
From industrial materials that have selected by the rapid expansion of an agricultural to industrial countries. Suhaimi requestion the state narrative or storytelling through a combination of both the aesthetic and social angles. The materials used by him as if have created a political discourse or 'political discourse' that demands attention from the audience.
Overall, combination of multi-dimensional space as though his objects found by archaeologists or archeology that was on display in 3000 years and exhibited as a collection of fossil and artifact' of culture, social, political, and economic of Malaysia in the form of creating diversity of contemporary dialogue between artistic practice artists, cultural objects and audience as a social installation.
Ili Farhana Norhayat___________________
Mark Vallen “Robert Rauschenberg 1925-2008“ in -http://art-for-a- change.com/blog/2008/05/rober-rauschenberg-1925-2008.html
William C. Seitz, “The Art of Assemblage”, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1961.
Laura Hoptman, “Unmonumental: Going to pieces in the 21st Century”, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, 2007,128-139.