ZARINA MUHAMMAD X HASYIMAH HARITH
ELA (a yard of) measures what the skin remembers. The trust between the space and the body. In a weave, a fabric, a tapestry of a community. This district creases and meanders like a river. But some rivers forget to change, others forget her own name. But someday all dying rivers ask the unquestioned,
What do we wish to conceal and reveal? What are our individual and collective methods of memory-making, commemorating loss, reconstructing traditions of renewal? How do we mark and measure time and forgotten dates? What memoryscapes and origin myths are written on our skin? What stories do we tell of lost spaces, of ruined / renewed landscapes, of belonging, intimacy, distance and kinship?
The most memorable and meaningful part of the project was to witness the actual durational transformation of the words, gestures, anecdotes, mark-making, stories of objects and how it translated into the culminating performance. I very much enjoyed being part of and responding to the departure points composed of historical fragments, poetic imagery and memoryscapes that the project began with. Witnessing the unfolding of the creative process and final choreography through the series of gestures of silih berganti or taking turns was especially meaningful. Working with the P7:1SMA team from day 1 of the project to its final culminating performance has generally been an absolute joy and pleasure.
Cloth artwork infused with soil, yarn, crushed kemenyan, black pepper, ash, wax and soothed with Snake Brand Prickly Heat Cooling Powder, Sam Fong Hoi Tong Talc Powder (Bedak), jasmine oil, lemongrass, turmeric and sweat
Textile workshop at
Joo Chiat Complex &
with youths from
Azpirasi and Atrika
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I facilitated the workshop titled Ela where we worked with fabric and explored its materiality, symbolism, its practical, sacred, mundane and cultural associations, the ways it can be used to dress, shroud, conceal and reveal. We also explored the idea of skin as material and metaphor, and the embodied memories that are marked on skin and carried through the generations. Through this workshop, we spoke not only about the known histories of the site and the changing environment around the space, but also how we each intuitively and sensorily engaged with the unseen, intangible and forgotten aspects of the site and the materials we had chosen to work with. Several of my past works have been preoccupied with the idea that what we see and what we do not see, and on what terms and whose authority involves the much larger questions of who/what constitutes the community and who exercises the power to define its identity. Amidst sewing, tearing, deconstructing and reconstructing the fabric we were individually working on, we also spoke of these issues. Collaborating with participants who candidly shared family histories and personal stories connected to the textiles they each selected to work with offered insights into the ways we negotiate intergenerational fragments of memories and how it shapes cultural identity.
- Zarina Muhammad
"And how do we then measure
the sound of silence
when the mind
fails to remember?"