On the Uses and Abuses of Visibility: A Discussion on Artist Autonomy and Social engagement

Date: 25/3/2019
11 am – 1 pm

Venue: Projek Dialog
D5-8-2, Pusat Perdagangan Dana 1
Jalan PJU1A/46
Ara Damansara
(One unit next to the Naked Lunchbox and a then a floor up)

The increased distribution of government-funded art-related programs have resulted in many art festivals and events that operate outside the standard gallery setting. While these funds are generally well received by the arts community it also comes with tremendous pressure. The projects must be inclusive, involving as many layers of the population as possible. The target audience are no longer art consumers or collectors but ‘the general public.’ This may also require that the funded art be ‘correctional’ or ‘therapeutic.’

All this is to say that the notion of a ‘public’ and its relationship to ‘art’ is changing,  with states playing a crucial role in that transformation. How then  should we rethink the role of the artist? How might we critically redefine the terms of ‘social engagement’?

This talk has 2 parts. The first sees each panelist briefly presenting on their current practice and ideas. The second part will see a critical discussion of their different approaches, strategies of social inclusion.

Panelists: Yeoh Lian Heng, Shiro Masuyama, Fairuz Sulaiman
Moderator: Suzy Sulaiman


Yeoh Lian Heng (b.1978) founded and co-directs the art space and collective “Lost Generation” with his artist peers, pursuing eclectic expression in the exploration of art’s role in society. Building up highly meaningful relationships with local communities his projects often directly serve the specific neighbourhoods they are based in. (https://www.instagram.com/yeoh500/)

Shiro Masuyama (b.1971) is a Japanese conceptual artist who was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1971. He completed his Masters in Architecture in 1997 at Meiji University, Kawasaki Japan and since 2002 he has worked nomadically and developed his professional practice, taking part in residencies all over the world including: Leitrim Sculpture Centre (2012); Flaxart studios, Belfast (2009); National Art Studio Goyang (The National Museum of Contemporary Art Korea), South Korea (2008); Artist in Residence Krems (Kunstmeile Krems),  Austria (2008); Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2006); Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2004-05); Hangar, Barcelona (2003); International Studio & Curatorial Program, New York (2002-2003). He was based in Berlin for 6 years from 2004. Since 2010 he has re-located to Belfast and has become a studio holder
and co-director of Flax Art Studios since 2013. His works are fundamentally site specific, inspired by the environment in which he lives. He works in a variety of media including installation, sculpture, performance, video and photography.

Fairuz Sulaiman’s (b. 1982, Petaling Jaya) multi-tasking inter-disciplinary practice covers extensive ground. Combining digital and analogue formats, Fairuz has made music videos for local indie-bands, live video projections (VJ), animation for short films, designed visuals for stage using stop-motion, puppetry, hand-made masks, 3D animation and live video mixing. His VJ-oriented work includes moving visuals (often video) on large displays or screens to
complement performance art, theatre productions and live music events. Exploring everyday objects is central to his creations. He recently presented Salam 1 Jepun (National Visual Arts Gallery, 2013), a cross-cultural response event based on his experience as JENESYS program internship with Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media [YCAM] in Japan in 2012. He is the Programme Director of Digital Art + Culture (DA+C) Festival in Penang.