Newsletter #2, Jan/Feb 2015: The City at 4.30AM
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The City at 4.30AM

I almost never walk in KL. Ever since I can remember, the city has intimidated me.
Last Friday I found myself in the middle of its beating heart in the dead of night, sticking art up at bus stops around Pudu.
Irrational fear flooded my sleep-deprived amgydala, the portion of the brain that regulates the flight or fight response. I couldn’t tell what I was afraid of – the police, the darkness, getting robbed, being a stranger, being a woman. Zedeck asked why I was standing so close to him. Ashamed, I simply denied the truth: "No I’m not."
As we trekked from Jalan Pudu to Medan Pasar and Tun Perak, we passed rows and rows of people sleeping on the streets. They were young and old, men and women.
We headed toward the bus terminal. Zedeck grabbed me and said softly: "Watch out!" I’d been about to step on a huge dead rat, its guts vibrant pink spread out against the grey asphalt.
Two policemen on motorbikes stopped us and asked where we were going. Zedeck muttered something about Swiss Garden Hotel, while I stood there clutching our art supplies with a deeply guilty look on my face. They let us go.
We put up 9 posters, and then my body dragged my exhausted mind back the way we came. I heard faint birdsong. The sun was about to rise.
The streets seemed to say to me: you have no business being here. But I know that's a lie, just my mind tricking me into believing these thoughts don’t come from itself. I know because there are those who make it their business – the shelters and soup kitchens, people who provide places of respite for the ones who don’t get to go home after a long, tired night.  
Later, in my soft bed, I thought of the art we’d pissed on the streets, like cats. I thought of the rows of sleeping bodies. I fell asleep grasping the memory of my fear like a faint thread that might hold the two beside each other. 

Latest Updates

My linocut illustrations for Zedeck Siew's LOCAL FAUNA stories are part of the exhibition Making Space, 31 Jan - 9 Feb 2015 at Sekeping Sin Chew Kee. 

We pasted posters of these stories (in English and Malay, with Burmese translations by poet/artist Maung Day) and the illustrations at bus stops around downtown Kuala Lumpur. 

Location map of Local Fauna works

8 Feb: Curator's walkthrough, 12pm & 3pm
9 Feb: Artists' Sharing, 3pm

Press and reviews about Making Space: #Edgy, The Star, Daily Seni
New to the mailing list? Here's the treasure trove of past newsletters (well, just one so far): 

#1, Dec 2014: The Blank Page
BFM 89.9's Night School: A conversation between Ahmad Fuad Rahmat, myself, Making Space curator Ong Jo-Lene and art critic Johan Zolhaidi. We talk about politics of public and private space in relation to the exhibition. 

Listen to the podcast
Recently, I joined Lightup Borneo on a trip to the interiors of Sabah to visit their micro-hydro electric projects. Above is the floating hydro generator at Long Pasia, completely powered by the flowing river.

This is part of the research for In The Land That Never Was Dry, my illustrated journalism project about water issues in Malaysia. I'm working on an in-depth feature about my trip for, to be published at the end of Feb. 

In the meantime, please check out Lightup Borneo and support their efforts.


The Unseen Files

In this section, I’ll put a drawing or a piece of writing that I won’t post anywhere else online, now or in the future. 
I did pages and pages of thumbnails for the Firecracker Crow illustration (see final version above) before I got it right. The initial idea was to show him in flight, 'bombing' the ground with his poop. 

He ended up looking like as much of an asshole as I could make him - smoking a stolen cigarette, and shitting explosively on everything beneath. Yeah.
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