KataKatha, a new regional arts and culture initiative, is another project by traditional heritage non-profit organisation Pusaka to bring the South-East Asian arts communities closer together.
The KataKatha dialogue sessions, which involves 10 principal cultural figures from South-East Asia, will take place in three venues – Theatre KuAsh, Aswara and APW (Art Printing Works) – in Kuala Lumpur from Nov 13 to 15.
The names for the inaugural KataKatha sessions are Goenawan Mohamad (Indonesia), Farish A. Noor (Malaysia), Agnes Arellano (the Philippines), Anocha Suwichakornpong (Thailand), Geraldine Kang (Singapore), Nadiah Bamadhaj (Malaysia), Avianti Armand (Indonesia), Kanakan Balintagos (the Philippines), Pichet Klunchun (Thailand) and Lai Chee Kien (Singapore).
The three-day programme, which offers free admission to the public, seeks to explore the “Shared History, Shared Culture, Shared Traditions” narrative from this region through the perspectives and experiences of this panel of writers, filmmakers, poets, an artist, an architect, a sculptor, and a dancer/choreographer.
“The theme basically is not only one of exploring our commonalities but, very importantly, also our contrasts. Artists are necessarily eccentric and it is the convergence of these temperaments and eccentricities which I hope will animate these sessions,” says Pusaka founder Eddin Khoo about KataKatha.
Is KataKatha an extension of Pusaka’s annual traditional arts programming? Or is it a standalone event?
“Pusaka approached Maybank and we were collectively able to create this autonomous platform known as KataKatha. It is a Maybank Kim Eng initiative, supported by Maybank Foundation, conceptualised and curated in collaboration with Pusaka,” he explains.
For now, Khoo says that KataKatha is a regional project, but there will always be opportunities to broaden its scope with future editions.
“Presently its focus is South-East Asia, but I like to dream big and hope we can persuade someone to create an Asian platform of this kind.”
Malaysia’s prominent painter/poet Latiff Mohidin, 74, and Indonesian poet Goenawan Mohamad, 74, will be the closing highlights of KataKatha. Both veterans will make a rare appearance together for a public reading this Sunday.
Who are some of the names at KataKatha for history and arts enthusiasts to look out for?
“Everyone! But I would also underline the reading by Latiff Mohidin and Goenawan Mohamad who are old friends and great cultural figures of South-East Asia. They will be reading for the first time again in many decades. That is not to be missed,” says Khoo.
The programme list for KataKatha:
1. KataKatha session with filmmakers (Nov 13, 4pm-6pm, Aswara, Kuala Lumpur) – Anocha Suwichakornpong and Kanakan Balintagos: Thai independent filmmaker Anocha, known by her friends as Mai, and Manila-based Kanakan, a filmmaker and indigenous peoples rights advocate, will share their filmmaking experiences and themes circling around protests, politics, and influence. Both have had works selected for the Cannes film festival.
2. KataKatha session with writers (Nov 13, 4pm-6pm, APW, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur) – Goenawan Mohamad, Farish A. Noor and Avianti Armand.
3. KataKatha session with artists (Nov 13, 4pm-6pm, Studio One, KuAsh Theatre, Kuala Lumpur) – Agnes Arrelano, Nadiah Bamadhaj and Geraldine Kang.
4. Wayang Kulit Seri Warisan Pusaka (Kelantan) performance (Nov 13, 9pm-10pm, KuAsh Theatre).
5. Film screening (Nov 14, 6pm-10.30pm, KuAsh Theatre) – Graceland (Anocha Suwichakornpong), which is film about an Elvis impersonator who travels from Bangkok into the countryside with a mysterious stranger, while Busong (Kanakan Balintagos) is inspired by stories that the filmmaker’s mother told him about her native Palawan when he was a child. “Busong” is the indigenous Palawanon concept of fate or instant karma.
6. “Creative Life In South-East Asia: What Does It Mean, What Do We Share?” forum (Nov 15, 3pm-4.30pm, KuAsh Theatre) – Goenawan Mohamad, Farish A. Noor, Agnes Arellano, Anocha Suwichakornpong, Geraldine Kang, Nadiah Bamadhaj, Avianti Armand, Kanakan Balintagos, Pichet Klunchun and Lai Chee Kien.
7. Public reading (Nov 15, 5pm-7pm, KuAsh Theatre) – Latiff Mohidin and Goenawan Mohamad.
For more information, visit “KataKatha” on Facebook.