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Sabah Animation Creative Contents Centre_Sac3

AWAS – A Gift


After an exhausting journey of 2,286 miles from Seoul, his footstep finally made its first imprint at Kota Kinabalu. The distinction in language and looks of the people in Sabah definitely made a lasting initial impression to this South Korean artist. The cultural diversity of Sabah reflects not only on its dialects, traditional costumes, dance or music, it is also present in its unique local foods. With this notion in mind, Sean Se Hwan Roh has brilliantly created AWAS, Art Exhibition. AWAS, as the name suggest means caution or be careful in English. It is a common word in Malay language used as the road sign or signage to warn people. Amusingly, according to Se Hwan, AWAS is the first Malaysian word he notice when he arrived at Kota Kinabalu and thus his curiosity built up after he saw AWAS almost everywhere. It also served as a perfect reminder to Se Hwan on how little he knows and care about Malaysia and hence the need to get to know more about this country and its people. Personally to Se Hwan, the word ‘AWAS’; widely used in our public signage is the resonance of our local society’s understanding, caring and friendly personality.

In this exhibition, the whole showcase comprised of two things, portraits installation and video installation. The portraits and video are the result of intense discussion and sharing session between Se Hwan and SAC3’s dedicated exhibition team on some of Malaysia’s social issues. The six portraits of people chosen in this installation are based on the few characteristics and background of the featured persona. These portraits were taken from the random people found at Kota Kinabalu’s food markets known as Bazaar Ramadhan. Interestingly, these food markets are only available for a month during the annual fasting season for the Muslim community. In Se Hwan decade years of involvement as an artist, this is his first-ever work that feature portraits. All six portraits were taken as documentary portrait, without any pretentious settings. The portraits are strategically displayed on the wall as if the personas are all looking at the video installation that is suspended at the center of the gallery. Both of the portraits and video installation are meant to communicate the ideas and point of view of the artist and the fellow SAC3’s team from the positive side of the thoughtfully selected social issues.

Through his work, Sean invites the audience to take a moment to think deeply and contemplate about the present day situations confronted by the public through the placement of each installation at the Digital Media Gallery. The floor plan is carefully planned to evoke meaningful thoughts about the issues we face and its effects in the future of Sabah. The artist immersed himself in learning about the psyche of the locals through his portraiture photography and video work. Each installation light heartedly reflects the problems of an average person on the street, and this also works as a way of recording human thought, feeling and memory built around the concerns. He arranged elements in layers to appeal to emotion and senses. In this retrospect, his works sees art to build-up the human spirit rather than breaking it down. As an artist, he desires to create something of great value – a gift.

Marina Abdul Ghanie_Sac3

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