Gallery impression by Terri Teo and Hoong Wei Long. Photo courtesy of NUS Museum prep-room After Ballads
NX2 Gallery, NUS Museum
6 October 2017 - 23 February 2019

Conceived as a dialogue to Radio Malaya: Abridged Conversations about Art, After Ballads was an ongoing prep-room project at NUS Museum. The prep-room project weaves text, objects and artefactual materials from the museum’s collection together, in an effort to address the spectres that continue to haunt and shape contemporary consciousness. The prep-room is part of Fyerool’s current exploration of the intersection of history, language and literature through the utilisation and distortion of institutional archives, employing a unique visual vocabulary that continues to evolve with his practice.

prep-room
The prep-room was envisioned as a site for the exploration of curatorial methods and the development of content scopes in the lead up to various upcoming projects. Sited in a gallery in a Museum, it is open to the public and allows audiences to observe the exhibition-making process, engage with the subject matter presented, and begin a sustained interest in the development of the project. Its primary tools of deployment are archival materials, with artworks and artefacts interspersed at various times as a facilitator rather than a focus.







Installation view from prep-room After Ballads, Shroud (Pigmented oceans)
2018, ink, salt and donated textile on shrouds, 250 x 300 cm




Installation view of prep room After Ballads (left) Portrait No. 15 (A man of bananas and thorns)
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas and wood with bleached textile, 160 x 126 cm, 2017

(right) Portrait No. 17 (Whose name evaporates in the krimson skies)
Chrome aerosol on wood with printed textile, 46.5 x 32 cm cm, 2017




A Million Tears (After Ballads)




A Million Tears (featuring Muhammad Alkatiri, Denise Jillian Tan, Izzad Radzali Shah and Bubbles)
2018, a corrupted documentation of an oratory performance with a revised sound work in collaboration with karat, high definition in colour with sound, 55:35


The oratory performance was a collision of melodies inspired from dikir barat (sung and improvised by Muhammad Alkatiri) and fengtau (sung and improvised by Denise Jillian Tan) interlaced with varied manners of reading a poem by Izzad Radzali Shah against a reading by speech generator named Bubbles and found sounds re-composed by karat.


As part of his ongoing presentation, After Ballads, artist Fyerool Darma delivers an oratory performance of Tuan Siami's "Syair Potong Gaji (1831)", and Abdullah Abdul Kadir's "Poem to Mr Raffles and his wife (circa 1840s)" and "Syair Singapura Terbakar (1830)" through players Denise Jillian Tan, Muhammad Alkatiri, Izzad Radzali Shah, and Bubbles, with the translation support of Said Effendy. Conceived as a response to Radio Malaya: Abridged Conversations about Art, this prep-room project weaves text, objects and artefactual materials from the museum’s collection together, in an effort to address the spectres that continue to haunt and shape contemporary consciousness. The prep-room is part of the artist’s current exploration of the intersection of history, language and literature through the utilisation and distortion of institutional archives, employing a unique visual vocabulary that continues to evolve with his practice.

[prep-room DRILLS] is a series of public presentations of ongoing research and studio works by invited practitioners and researchers. Invited to work around the open-ended framework of the NUS Museum’s prep-room, the collaborators engage with the framework of the prep-room and its features to interpose objects within the permanent collection or research trajectories of the NUS Museum. DRILLS introduces many explicit and tacit modes of working by the artists and researchers within the context of a University Museum.

The title of the work was drawn out from a fengtau music of the same title by Groove Coverage that had been re-written and re-sung in multiple Singaporean languages. Where in some instances was a phenomenonal anthem at neighbourhood bazaars in Singapore.

Conceived as part of [prep-room DRILLS]
After Ballads
Thursday, 8 February 2018, 7pm
prep-room, NX2, NUS Museum
...
Please click on image above to view documentation







A work concieved during period of prp-room After Ballads
‘Our glorious dead featuring e-scootzSG & moyangz from South and Southeast Asia Collections, NUS Museum’
2018, poster print on recycled paper, 9 x 5 cm, unique print





b-sides: After Ballads




Onsite sound recording of performance, 50 minute 51 seconds, 2019


A sound recording of a performative work that was created as a broadcast loop to After Ballads at NUS Museum. On one hand, it situates itself as a rendition. On the other, it is an address to the circuitous and polarising nature of the prep-room. It features “A Letter From An Insolent Son” (Fyerool Darma; 2018) and “Moon Over Malaya” (Jimmy Kennedy, John Turner; 1952), sung and performed by Adikara Batubara, Audrey Yeo, Amaryllis, Ananthapindika Dai, Denise Jillian Tan, Denise Yap, Fadhil Nasser, Joshua Lim, Kelvin Leong, Pamela Ng, Rifky Amirul and Mohamad Alkatiri.

Record of the guide given to the players can be read below.


A guide for the players
b-sides: After Ballads_moon_above_malaya-2019

Sing to the artefacts, objects, elements and beings within
the exhibition space (here NUS Museum)

4 sets of singing the line:
"Moon above Malaya"
Each set comprises of:
5 vocal loops by participants
followed by
5 loops of singing in unison

Sung in the melody of Eve Boswell's version (1953) of the song.

5 of the 12 players to play as 'off-tuners', in which they may shout, scream or sing in off tune or with less gusto.

To sing simultaneously with a mix of songs (compiled, remixed and re-arranged by karat) and a live reading (“A Letter From An Insolent Son” (Fyerool Darma; 2018) is being played through the museum's P. A. speakers.


Simultaneously, players to:
*Video record their viewpoint throughout the performance.
Players may upload on their social media at any moment of the performance.

Players may be in any gestures and poses throughout the duration of the performance.

Audiences may video record the performance and upload them in their social medias.



Written by Fyerool Darma, 2019.
For the occasion of b-sides: After Ballads, 2019


....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
*        The work was initially intended to conclude with a bricolage of the video footages by the players. Unfortunately due to                                      circumstances directed by the cosmos, fate wilt it otherwise. Today it exists as memories between the players and the curator.
















Dear prep-room,

There were moments that I felt choked when confronting you.

You were empty, plain and boring. There were only walls repainted in white emulsion, furnished as if waiting for me to ‘joget’ amidst the gendang you emit. These parquet floors, if only they could express, perhaps they would sing a dreadful ballad again. 

There were marks left, yet concealed by the souls that assisted to keep you alive. In those acts of concealing, it revealed the cracks that I only realized two months after I housed myself here.

Yet, you brought me to spaces that I remembered sauntering in. Like Muhammad M Din’s, Erika Tan’s, Sufi and the bearded man to name afew, and the concealing of Parameswaran’s collection - .

I apologise for the layers I am distancing you from them; the residues of my contemplations, of my meditations, of my gestures, of the fleeting moments from the texts that I read, in melodies I am familiar with, the layers of voices I’m littering your eardrums with the oration by Adikara Batubara, Audrey Yeo, Amaryllis, Ananthapindika Dai, Denise Jillian Tan, Denise Yap, Fadhil Nasser, Joshua Lim, Kelvin Leong, Pamela Ng, Rifky Amirul, Izzad Radzali Shah and Mohamad Alkatiri; who fleet yet return all to awaken the texts littered by Abdullah Abdul Kadir and Tuan Simi.

Some declared it foreign yet others allude it to points that brought us, the atoms together. We collide, yet we remain distant. Like now, I come to locate the slips believing you would keep the secrets safe, perhaps unravel them only as rumors or possible myth for the future occupants; any souls that bother to allow a slice of me in them.

I am tired of reconciling the past. Since I am a grandchild of past narratives, let me be the insolent grandchild who only acknowledges you in my mind. I made several friends here, they too I would like to keep until I pass. Let whoever wishes to unpack After Ballads know I never wanted to settle the dust - a dearest friend I came to know, who speaks to the memories of these walls said it best, ’certain endeavours are best to let go like the wind.’ 

Welcome us to the neo-malaya, the one that is already here, the moment after we only rave to the ‘post-merdeka’ synths and 808s.


Sincerely,
Fyerool Darma


September 2019





 

(Above) In the silence, I felt the ocean on my feet, 03:23, featuring Syafiq Noor, 2019;
"Al Bashar" by Maggot and Zahira Khaleel for Kribo Records (03:23), 2018; edited by Mr. Jalee;
footage of 'skim boarding in s'pore' by fanskim17, Published on 7 June 2010, YouTube;
with 'Malay Man', S1980-0346-002-0, wood, 30 x 19 x 8.5 cm, Collection of NUS Museum
An art project by Fyerool Darma for YaleNUS Library,
a continuum to [prep-room] After Ballads.