In Locating Malaysian Contemporary Art: The Echo Boomers, the exhibition looks at young practices, specifically artists from the Echo Boomer or Gen Y, also known as the Millennials. This particular generation were born between 1981 – 1996. Each generation is presumably defined and shaped by powerful cultural events, and for this particular group, anthropologist have pegged it to the explosion of the internet and social media – in addition to terrorism (9/11) and the Great Recession. In essence, the ability to access knowledge and information has tremendously shaped the artist’s constitution. The artist is more ‘woke’, so to speak. The key artistic attributes of reading, observing/ looking, introspecting, satirizing has been enhanced by this cultural event, a far difference from the preceding generation whom had been largely shaped by post World War II optimism and nation building. Hence, the prevalence of social political concerns for this older group of artists. This exhibition provides hints of this cultural shift, if not, an indication that the urgency of socio-political commentary in Malaysian art is dissipating.
Izat Arif’s and Lee Mok Yee’s works are reflexive as they contemplate the ‘social requirements’ of their artistic careers. Izat’s work takes it a step further by breaking the fourth wall, in which the art becomes aware of itself and the ecosystem that it resides in. Faizal Yunus’ and Mark Tan’s works consider the reciprocal relationship of nature and man, tapping into the memory process as a cycle of observing the world around them. The act of observing is an important part of their artistic process as it triggers scents and tunes, and deeprooted human instinct. Joshua Kane Gomes’ and Sarah Radzi’s works question the efficiency of human dynamics and navigates unhealthy dependencies within relationships. By extension, the works serve as a mechanism for the artists to comprehend their existence taking place in an isolated solitary phenomenon in an absurd world. But nevertheless, it affords them freedom to define themselves.
Locating Malaysian Contemporary Art: The Echo Boomers