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UNPACK-REPACK: Archiving & Staging Ismail Hashim (1940-2013)

28 March – 30 June 2015
@ Balai Seni Visual Negara (Kuala Lumpur)

The National Visual Arts Gallery (NVAG) with the collaboration of Fergana Art is delighted to present UNPACK-REPACK: Archiving & Staging Ismail Hashim (1940-2013), a hybrid exhibition that straddles the intersections of a posthumous career retrospective and that of an ongoing excavation and unpacking of the late Ismail hashim’s estate. The exhibition provides the opportunity to view vast of Ismail Hashim’s collection of negatives, contact prints and test prints as well as personal documents, writings and photographic equipment and material from his studio.

This exhibition intends to unpack and make transparent various trajectories of representation and presentation with the hope that the audience will come to their own understanding as they negotiate through the exhibition space, and encounter the interrelationships of the narratives.

UNPACK-REPACK: Archiving & Staging Ismail Hashim (1940-2013) is curated by Malaysia’s famous curators, Wong Hoy Cheong. Using the vast archives of photographs, negatives, slides, documents and objects as the starting point, this exhibition will unravel, re-represent and contextualise the thoughts, preoccupations and explorations of Ismail Hashim. It will look at his works and archives from various perspectives, contrasting multiple narratives and interpretations. It will also lay bare the complexities of documenting and staging his archive.

UNPACK-REPACK: Archiving & Staging Ismail Hashim (1940-2013) follows the great 2014 tribute exhibition UNPACK-REPACK: A Tribute to Ismail Hashim (1940-2013). In 2014, Fergana Art and The Whiteaways Arcade staged a tribute “Unpack-Repack” exhibition in honour of Ismail Hashim.

This time, the exhibition is arranged into five small spaces, with each space represent a different room according to its theme. It will take viewers through five spaces, revealing Ismail Hashim’s knack for crafting images that conjure up familiarities and memories; his intimate scrutiny of social spaces and the environment that captures the lingering imprints of time, human activity and mortality; his location within the sweep of community and history; and most of all, his enduring faith in human courage and resilience, yet without losing his sense of irony and wit.

Highlights includes a room called “As the World Turns”, which consists of photographs, drawings, paintings and graphic works exhibited alongside vitrines which displaying personal notes, documents, books and newspaper clippings drawn from his archive as well as public records. This installation layers various strands of artistic, personal, and national chronologies, and constructs a biographical map of the artist as a creative and social being. It re-contextualises the artist’s works and concerns, locating them within the community and history.

The exhibition also features Ismail Hashim’s Yang ‘Tu Yang ‘Ni: the title of Ismail Hashim’s solo exhibition in 2008. This space explores the “this and that” of being and of existence: among them, memory and absence, ephemerality and mortality, rationality and spirituality, humour and melancholia, truth and beauty.

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