KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 — The successes of Gallery Weekend Kuala Lumpur (GWKL) 2016 and 2017, the first and second editions of the annual cultural event, left many visitors reflecting on Kuala Lumpur’s potential to be a leading cultural hub.
Art magazine Ocula noted that “importantly, [Gallery Weekend Kuala Lumpur] provides a starting point from which to discuss how the city’s identity could be mapped in the future” suggesting that “it will be interesting to see how Kuala Lumpur’s artistic infrastructure will progress in a year’s time.”
In the ensuing months since GWKL 2017, the rallying cry of New Malaysia has been heard. Citizens have embraced a fresh, hopeful outlook on their future and the country’s development with one key area being a vibrant creative economy.
While the institutions of the art world wait to see how the change will affect them, the KL cultural scene will rely on local stakeholders — its artists, commercial galleries, and collectors — who have so far sustained its promising growth.
This year's GWKL, November 29 to December 2, is set to provide a quality cultural immersion.
GWKL founder Shalini Ganendra is a former Wall Street lawyer turned culture innovator whose cultural organisation has placed her in a unique position to survey the emerging South-east Asian art market.
In 2016, Ganendra led the establishment of the first Gallery Weekend in Kuala Lumpur, joining a network of Gallery Weekends that spans the globe from Buenos Aires to Warsaw, Chicago to Seoul.
GWKL has aimed to draw an international audience to the capital, and this year’s programme is no different. Prestigious figures from the art world will join a select “Luminary Features” programme of talks – free for public consumption.
Often placed in complementary pairings, these speakers will explore the Weekend’s theme of Mapping the Multidisciplinary through specially curated discussions.
“Multi-View” launches the Weekend on Friday with a panel talk on Malaysian creative culture: its present state, development and future aspirations.
Ivan Pun, cultural entrepreneur and founder of Pun + Projects, will host what looks to be a more intimate and open conversation between audience and panel.
This lens on the current KL art scene will be complimented by the historic focus of Madhavi Peter’s collaboration with Biji Biji Intitiative, “Dipto Bento.”
This workshop focuses on “the trees that changed the course of Malaysia's history,” Dipterocarps, and will run three times over the Weekend.
The programme also allocates space to discuss creative practices that are often overlooked in the art market.
On Saturday, Lindy Joubert will present on the importance of craft in the twenty-first century; bringing her extensive knowledge as Director of the Unesco Observatory and as the World Craft Council vice president.
Joubert’s presentation forms the first half of the Luminary Feature “Handmade” held at the Badan Warisan; she will be joined by Sarah Ichioka in the second half.
Ichioka reflects GWKL’s international outlook as a current World Cities Summit Young Leader with a diverse portfolio of arts experience.
Following this session, there will be another panel talk in which Lindy Joubert, Ivan Pun, Madhavi Peters and Dr Deepanjana Klein approach the topic of “Emerging Practices and Platforms.”
With expert moderation from Jennifer Pratt, Strategic Initiatives Lead for Asia and Oceania at Artsy, this Luminary Feature will seek out diverse approaches to its broad theme.
For its last event, the programme will turn from processes of production and promotion, to processes of collecting and curating.
On Sunday, Dr Deepanjana Klein, International Head for South Asian Modern & Contemporary at Christie’s auction house, will host a conversation with William Lim, an award-winning architect and “arguably the world’s foremost collector of Hong Kong contemporary art” (Hong Kong Tatler) for this Luminary Feature on “Collecting, Creating & Curating.”
The programme of specialist Luminary events aims to increase access and engagement with Malaysia’s art offerings in order to highlight the country’s creative potential.
It is fitting then that all of GWKL’s participating venues will grant free admission over the Weekend. Visitors will be able to access over 20 partners with shows including: “Wonder, A Story Exhibition at Ruang, Think City;” a solo exhibition by Shafiq Nordin at G13; Trincomalee at Shalini Ganendra Advisory and “Splendours of Malaysia — Paintings of Ethnic Cultures of the Land” at Soka Gakkai Gallery.
Visitors can enjoy a host of additional benefits — whether a curator-led tour of the Islamic Arts Museum or gourmet offerings from Ce La Vi or a discounted cocktail at Mrs Jones’ Parlour speakeasy.
With the combined efforts of all its partners, GWKL will weave together local talent and international perspectives into a tapestry of events.
In doing so, GWKL’s third edition aims not just to fulfil the expectations of those celebrating the New Malaysia, but surpass them by upholding a quality cultural agenda for all!