Richard Koh Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur
Haffendi Anuar: Carved out of wood and occasionally adorned with shells, animal bones and human hair, the strange and fantastical masks from Borneo are used by native tribes as ceremonial items or to fend off evil spirits from homes and have been widely traded in the global artifact trade. Browsing the multiple Borneo masks on Etsy and eBay, scrolling over Dayak, Iban and other tribal masks, I notice that they are being advertised from around the globe. Either their authenticity is questionable as there too many of them available or that these artifacts have traveled halfway around the world from their birth place to be put up again to be sold, their abundance and dissemination is almost like a natural process of selection, like propagation of seeds by the wind or birds in the jungle, to be are scattered around the globe again and again.
What I find so alluring; so fascinating are this ease of movement and the translation of cultural artifacts into currency. My current body of work looks at of how commoditized culture in the region has become and its by-products in the forms of souvenirs, decorative objects, images and icons and the fluidity of this exchanges through the aid of technology and the Internet. The wall mounted works extend from my interest in developing a body of object-based paintings that borrows the aesthetic of geometric abstraction and native tribal art while the painted free-standing wooden sculptures composed of combined found and purchased decorative wooden sculptures sold for the tourist trade explore how shaky forms allude to what they represent and how meaning and values shift when physical modifications are made.