Kuik’s work is always made out of a specific need to address a lasting thought process. For a decade marked by the intervals of 3 general elections (2008, 2013, and 2018), she has explored the interplay between the voter’s psyche and the Malaysian political machination, structuralized both by the racialized political parties that divide the nation, and the Merdeka themes that serve to unify a torn society in the aftermath of the 13 May 1969 riot. In Memory Games for A House in Motion, the artist answers to the most human need of finding her footing at a shifting time when the “new” Malaysia is haunted by its old problems, and the global pandemic changes our perception of boundaries embedded in the binary of society and personal agency. Germinating in a span of two years, the works in the exhibition are built as houses placed in a setting of urbanism engineered by NEP (the New Economic Policy), where rural Malaysians are torn between dreaming for a better life and being uprooted due to displacement.
To unlock the unsettled feelings in her dwelling history, Kuik has traced her sense of homelessness back to the modern brick house built by her father on the periphery of a Malay kampung in Pantai Remis after the 13 May 1969 riot. A house is made according to a model in the builder’s mind, which leads Kuik to ponder how she will construct hers in the future. Using makeshift structures made of wooden sticks and frame foundations, Kuik built her fabric assemblages with the transformation of the city of Kuala Lumpur in mind — its marginal urban spaces and people, as seen through the eye of a Malaysian painter Chia Yu Chian and the cartoonist cum ethnographer Lat. Mix-and-match fabrics of print and texture, transferred photographic cut-outs and personal garments were ironed, layered, intertwined, and sewed loosely, in a complex process that emphasizes labor and care if one wishes to reconnect with those lived experiences once concealed by the state apparatuses. Having oscillated long enough between orang kampung and the urban outsider, Kuik arrives at a stage where she now sees herself as a builder who houses herself on the ground of thinking.