Malaysian artist Shooshie Sulaiman will explore the history and significance of rubber through her new installation Main Getah/Rubberscape, which has been commissioned by Jakarta’s Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara (Macan).
Main Getah/Rubberscape, which will be unveiled at Museum Macan on Mar 1, will present two major themes – history and memory – that are central to Shooshie’s practice.
Firstly, it relates to the significance of rubber for South-East Asian countries in context of the economic history of the region; and secondly, Shooshie’s childhood memories of exploring rubber plantations in Muar, Johor with her late father.
“Throughout my childhood memories, rubber trees are a source that connects South-East Asian countries including Malaysia and Indonesia via industry and familiarity. With Main Getah/Rubberscape, I want visitors of all ages to ‘play’, to ‘imagine’ and to ‘create’ beyond boundaries,” says Shooshie, 46.
The KL-based Shooshie, whose full name is Susyilawati Sulaiman, is one of Malaysia’s most acclaimed contemporary artists. She is represented by Tomio Koyama Gallery in Tokyo, which put together a poignant exhibition of Shooshie’s work at the S.E.A. Focus in Singapore in January.
Shooshie also exhibited at the sixth Asia Pacific Triennial in Brisbane, Australia in 2009, the 10th Gwangju Biennale in South Korea in 2014 and the Kadist Art Foundation in Paris in France in 2016.
Her participation in the Yokohama Triennale 2017 Islands, Constellations & Galapagos (Yokohama Museum of Art and others, 2017) and the Sunshower (Mori Art Museum and The National Art Center, Tokyo 2017) have boosted her profile considerably as a visual activist strongly tied to issues and themes circling identity, memory and history.
Her current installation Main Getah/Rubberscape is part of the UOB Bank Museum MACAN Children’s Art Space Commission, a special programme by the museum which offers an opportunity for emerging Indonesian and South-East Asian artists to create brand new site-specific works.
The UOB Museum MACAN Children’s Art Space is a special section of the museum for younger visitors and families.
Shooshie is the first Malaysian, first female and first non-Indonesian artist to be featured in this commission.
Main Getah/Rubberscape will turn Museum MACAN’s Children’s Art Space into an environment that stimulates all the senses through form, texture and sound.
“We are proud to present this new commission by Shooshie Sulaiman, who is an important figure in the contemporary art of South-East Asia. Main Getah/Rubberscape is an immersive installation that we hope will enable children to think deeply about this material which has contributed to worldwide economic and technological progress and is also deeply rooted within the etymology of Indonesia and South-East Asia,” says Aaron Seeto, Museum MACAN director.
The installation will include young rubber trees and a small hill with locally-sourced soil and pre-recorded sounds from Malaysia’s rubber plantations.
There will also be educational activities for children and their parents, traditional games such as congkak and laga getah (rubber stone race), and a weekly balloon-making workshop with natural latex, as well as art-based activities based on specially designed rubber stamps and rubber band braiding.
This exhibition – a partnership between Museum MACAN and the Indonesian Rubber Research Institute – is designed to connect children with an understanding of the heritage of South-East Asia through play, while also considering other issues such as sustainability, science, regional history, identity and memory.