Negaraku Boleh!

(Top) Artwork by Zhao Renhui  (Bottom) Artwork by Yee I-Lann.

Opening today at Evil Empire is Negaraku Boleh! (My Country Can!), our national day to theirs, ten artists from Singapore and Malaysia revisit the heady days of preindependence, an uncertain but optimistic period when our nations were just coming into our own.

Working only with artists born after the independence and separation, the exhibition asks what it means to call ourselves Singaporean or Malaysians – when prior to 1963, we were all part of a loose geographic expression, Malaya. A Chinese  writer had once said, “The culture of Singapore, Malaysia is essentially the same.”

Alan Oei, the curator suggests that, “as individuals and nations, we have much more cultural similarities then we care to admit. Using ‘Malaya’ as a starting point might be a good way to see how our shared history and culture impacts our creative and artistic practice. It’s a good time to engage our past now that post-Mahathir and the old guard of politics, Singapore and Malaysia are working towards a more harmonious relationship.”

In contrast, the Malayan period was rife with ideological battles, armed insurgency, union riots, door to door campaigning. People were willing to fight and die for their beliefs. The sense of multiple and contesting visions – some were fighting for liberty, equality, others for basic working and living conditions – will be brought to life by primary source material interspersed within the exhibition.

The exhibition runs thru 31 August at Evil Empire, 48 Niven Road. Open daily Tue to Sun, 2pm to 8pm. They are open on National Day, 9th Aug.



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