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This is a three months project began in March 2003 concluding with an art exhibition in May 2003. This project is held at the Rumah Air Panas (RAP), an artist-run-venue in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The participants of the project are required to take part in a series of dialogue session and produce an art piece fro an exhibition at the end of the project. The show will feature art pieces by the twenty-six participants of the project, working with sculpture, photography, painting, installation and conceptual art as well.

This is a thematic project exploring the significance of "space" in artistic practice in various aspect, such as the relation of individual psychological space in the making and appreciation of imageries; and the issue of personal space in an urban environment as well as a larger concern with the relation between the social environment and artistic practice, namely expanding the room for and wider appreciation of creativity.

The initial stage comprised of two dialogue sessions in March, whereby the participants were provided with reading materials and discussed on issues relating to the theme. This is followed by a peers critique session on the artwork produced in respond or reaction to the discussion; and subsequently negotiation over the limited space of RAP. All of these culminating to a final exhibition running from May 11th to May 25th 2003. The opening will be on May 11th 2.00P.M, and daily exhibition hours are from 11A.M. to 5P.M.

Synopsis of the Project
Set up in 1998, Rumah Air Panas (RAP) is presently one of the few independent artists-run venues in Kuala Lumpur. Its main task is to encourage interactivity, exploration and coalescent of various cultural forms of contemporary art by working with young artists in instigating progress in arts and exchange of ideas.

"Space" is the theme of this self-initiated RAP project. The activities, which include dialogue sessions and documentation followed on with an art exhibition and guided tour, makes it a full fleshed thematic contemporary art exhibition.

The theme of 'space' does not suggest a concern with physical properties of spaces. Instead, it is questioning on how the artist could identify an opening for their creative sustenance and survival while confronting today's issues of globalization and postcolonial reality. It also communicates the artist's critical approach towards cultural ideas and dominant institutional and historical values system; are these fixed cultural spaces to be used merely as guidance or could they be applied as objects of critique that permits self-evolvement in contemporary artistic production?

Space is a symbolic concept. The participating artists hope to construe the codification of these spaces; the completed artworks are the results of their attempts at demonstrating issues relating to space. Furthermore, it is hoped the exhibition will call upon for heightened pro-activeness and awareness in the local art practice.

Malaysia is poised, as never before, to create, to seize and to benefit from the emerging opportunities that arts can offer. We are currently confident, developed economically, and are more socially critical and aware. The artistic environment in Malaysia has reached a stage of self-reliance, which is the formation of art space different from the mainstream public institutions and commercial galleries. Such phenomena could also further assert the independence and self-awareness of art making on top of acting as a proactive venue for dialogue with these establishments.

It is vital to probe on a viable environment that will allow the local arts to move forward. What is the nature of space does our artists need to inspire a viable growth pattern for the local art community? An idiosyncratic utopian space? A contesting arena of the mainstream representational power? Or do we need to strategically position the arts for mass media consumption (and its benefit)? Would the institutionally definition of a successful artist be an ideal model, or is there an ultimate goal for artistic creation?

There can be no absolute to these questions; there are no good or bad nor are there rights and wrongs. These questions belong to different elements that situates in different contexts; yet impinge on the function and progress of our artistic space.

"Space" is a cultural concept. As this project manifests, it connotes also the spatial embodiment of social relations. It is a contextual codification of specific social structure and hierarchies; it formalizes the inter-relation of individuals, family units, community and state.

It is hoped that the participants of the project would expound on the aesthetics consideration of artistic process, whilst exposing the complexities that abound between art and spaces, culture and the social environment. Through an aesthetical or philosophical outlook of one's social environment, one may be able to construe the cultural significance of the present.

Process of the Project

  1. Dialogues Sessions March 9th and 23rd
  2. Peers Critique Session April 3rd
  3. Period of Artistic Production (one month)
  4. Exhibition of art piece from May 11th till 25th 2003
Dialogue Title:
"Has our artistic production been submerged by its site?"

Session One - Artists and their surroundings
Discussion Guidelines

  1. To produce work of quality in our restrictive art environment, young artists need to persist with their ideal, and strive to make balance with their livelihood, art activities and the market system; how then could the initial verve and sensitivity of art making be sustained?
  2. If exhibiting has significance in the artist's forethought, and the site of display becomes a necessary" background" to the work, does this "background" support or subvert the work?
  3. Subdued by academic elitism and seeking institutional justification, is there room for peripheral and non-mainstream art space?
Session Two - Artwork and its surrounding
Discussion Guidelines
  1. How has the codification of the artwork changed in the transferring process from the artist studio to the exhibition space of gallery and museum, and subsequently in collection of patron and institution?
  2. Can an artwork exist without the audience? Can it claim autonomy?
  3. Would artwork end up as decorative cultural product, a cultural toy of capitalist economy?
Chai Chang Hwang, Chan Thim Choy, Chao Harn Kae, Chong Siew Ying, Chen Shaua Fui, Chin Kong Yee, Chong Cheong Mine, Chuah Chong Yong, Chong Kim Chiew, Hiew Wei Yong, Liew Kwai Fei, Law Mun Leng, Liew Chee Cheai, Lim Kok Teong, Liew Teck Leong, Low Yi Chin, Ng Swee Keat, Ooi Kooi Hin, Puah Chin Kok, Phuan Thai Meng, Shia Yin Ying, Sun Kang Jye, Tan Nan See, Tey Hong Yee, Wong Pey Yu, Yap Sau Bin.

Project Committee
Chong Kim Chiew, Lim Kok Teong, Ooi Kooi Hin, Phuan Thai Meng and Yap Sau Bin.

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