9 years ago, a 2007 Petronas Merdeka Day commercial entitled ‘Tan Hong Ming in Love’ depicted a puppy love scenario between a young boy and his then “girlfriend” at a primary school. The completely impromptu scenes reminded Malaysians that our differences should not matter: Our children are colour blind. Shouldn’t we keep them that way? The commercial proceeded to win a Gold in Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival 2008. But most importantly, it won over our hearts.
The commercial was one of many heart-moving projects, among many other short films and movies, captured by the late Yasmin Ahmad who was a film director, writer, scriptwriter and most of all, a Malaysian symbol of universal love. Her passing came off as a shock to all of us. Nevertheless, her peace-loving followers have been carrying on her torch. They include the Fine Arts students of The One Academy.
To commemorate Yasmin and her work, 11 Fine Arts students of The One Academy were invited by Yasmin at Kong Heng Museum, Ipoh, a museum founded by her mother Mak Inom and sister Datin Orked, to exhibit their artworks there as part of the museum’s efforts to keep the space active through collaborations with different art communities.
This was a grave opportunity for the students to delve deeper into her life and work – obtaining her essence and aim, and then translating them into art installations. Her documentaries and interviews revealed that her work were more than just a commentary on race and religion, but touches on the tenets of humanity; forgiveness, kindness, equality, love and peace.
Using the messages captured from Yasmin’s works, the students adapted their point of views of the social issues they feel close to into their artworks. For one Fine Arts student Silas Oo, his background in punk had influenced his artwork, the Punk Jacket installation, which uses the punk aesthetics to promote peace and togetherness.
Aiman Zamri’s sculpture named ‘Perfect’ was a highlight of the exhibition. Made of wood, plaster, colored leaves and clay, the piece tells the story about the imperfections of humans, which was inspired by one of Yasmin’s quotes: “It is perfect to be imperfect, because perfection is made up of many imperfections put together that makes it perfect”.
Themed ‘Moving On’, the exhibition does not attempt to get people to remember Yasmin, but instead, her spirit and beliefs, partly because there had been one less influential voice of reason and understanding. “Even now, we can see more tensions arising from issues that Yasmin tried to address and solve. We hope that we can all move on from these issues,” said Seah Zelin, Fine Arts senior lecturer.
Student Tay Wui Kean artwork called ‘Un, Seen’ underlines one of the themes that contemporary society should be paying attention to. His work focuses around the portraits people in the minority group LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community to “invite people to reconsider humanity and the values of these people who continue to suffer in their lives,” he said. Other art installations include chair installation, candle-blowing installation, plant installation, flower-planting project and other intriguing sculptures.
Through her work and life experiences, Yasmin knowingly advocated for the ideal equality for all. But what really made her stand out from the crowd was the fact that she walked the talk. “It is easy for us to shout about unity, but how well do we actually engage with others?” asked Seah. “She had observed this issue and brought them into her movies.”
To set up the exhibition, the lecturers and students had been through countless discussions. Initially, they chose to draw elements pertaining to race and religion, but they felt forced. Hence, they “started from their own personal issues, and surprisingly, those issues lead them back to Yasmin’s values”, proving how universal her values are.
This exhibition proved to be a great chance for visitors to visit Ipoh and venture into its art and culture scene. The One Academy Fine Arts lecturers and students were honoured to have the privilege to spread Yasmin’s message through their fresh artistic ideas in her hometown and also favourite place. We hope that endeavors like these would create a better environment for more little Tan Hong Mings and Umi Qazrinas.
Date : 28th May – 3rd July (Saturdays & Sundays only)
Time : 10am – 4pm
Venue : Yasmin at Kong Heng Museum, Ipoh
The One Academy is committed to providing the best art education programme and continues to nurture its students passionately by providing diploma and degree courses, namely Fine Arts, ESMOD Fashion Design & Pattern Making, Interior Architecture & Design, Multimedia Design with Digital Media & Interactive Design, Digital Animation with Game Development, Advertising & Graphic Design, Illustration, Movie & Game Art and Film Visual Effects. For further enquiries, contact email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.toa.edu.my.
The One Academy of Communication Design