Aug 23 2011
Shopping is not just a popular pastime in Kuala Lumpur, for many people it has reached the status of a religion. Shiny new malls open with alarming regularity, providing yet another place to worship the god of consumerism. And despite offering virtually nothing original, they seem full of happy customers, even before the paint is dry.
With such good profits to be made by doing exactly the same as everyone else, KL’s most upmarket shopping centre, Starhill Gallery, should be applauded for taking the path less travelled. This is most clearly shown in its support of contemporary art, with its Muse Floor turned over to artistic endeavour.
Central to this support is the annual Starhill Arts Festival, which runs from mid-August until the end of September (it’s actually part of the Malaysia Contemporary Art Tourism Festival 2011). An integral part of the Starhill festival is a competition for young Malaysian artists, this year’s theme being Inspiration of Tomorrow. As part of the competition, work by the 28 finalists is being displayed until September 30 (free admission, 10:00-22:00).
Three top prizes are up for grabs, each with 10,000 ringgit cash attached. Two of the winners will be chosen by a panel of judges, while a third will be decided by popular vote on Facebook. All the works are available for sale, with 10% of the proceeds going to House of Joy children’s charity. For more information on the exhibition, and how to vote, follow this link.
Inspiration of Tomorrow is only one part of the festival. Several other exhibitions and events are also being held, all on the Muse Floor, and free to get in. The Gallery at Starhill is holding two shows, the first of which, Here is Every, is a collection of works by renowned local artists. In September, Lines and Scribbles will focus on the various stages of the artistic process.
Artseni Gallery is also holding two special shows, the first a solo exhibition by Liew Choong Ching, entitled Secret Battle, until September 11. This will be followed by Fingers, a collection of work by 12 prominent Malaysian artists. Another event, which is not open to the general public, will be an art lesson for underprivileged children, hosted by the House of Suzie Wong, in late September.
I cannot help thinking though why it falls to a posh shopping centre to provide much needed exposure for young Malaysian artists, or indeed art lessons for underprivileged kids. If the Malaysian government can afford well over 10 billion ringgit annually in petrol subsidies, surely a few million a year could be to spared to support young artists, particularly those from poor backgrounds.
181 Jalan Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 2782-3800
The Gallery at Starhill
FF7, Muse Floor
T: (03) 2143 3323
FF5, Muse Floor
T: (03) 2144 0782
House of Suzie Wong
FF1(A), Muse Floor
T: (03) 2143 3220
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