Book as Anchor: Dapunta Hyang – Transmission of Knowledge, Zai Kuning

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A structure floats; the majestic hull of some dream ship. It’s huge, but nearing on the intangible. This is not quite the ghost-like art of Do-ho Suh’s, but evokes a similar feeling; the concrete-turned-transparent. This fragile tableaux is a combination of simple elements brought together to create a striking work.

Zai Kuning - Dapunta Hyang
Installation View. Image © Chris Gibson, 2017

Weighing this structure down are stones, tied with red strings. At the edges are piles of books (sealed, made untouchable, waterproofed with wax), also with red strings. Were they anchors too?

Zai Kuning - Dapunta Hyang 2
Installation View – book detail. Image © Chris Gibson, 2017

These tomes appear to have had their covers removed and as such become anonymous, and universal; able to stand in for any other books. And as anchors they do their job to hold the ship immobile. They also seem to tie it to history, to ideas of commerce and trade.

Zai Kuning - Dapunta Hyang
Installation View. Image © Chris Gibson, 2017

The title of the work Dapunta Hyang – Transmission of Knowledge refers to Lord Dapunta Hyang Jayanasa who was the first Malay King, and according to the artist, the istallation intends to convey the “forgotten stories of these sea people of the Riau Archipelago and an ancient Malay world”. With this knowledge the books take on a literal meaning, becoming cargo on this ghostly voyage.

Zai Kuning - Dapunta Hyang
Installation detail. Image © Chris Gibson, 2017

The artist is described as  ‘multi-disciplinary’, having previously worked with music, video, film, performance art, dance and theatre. With this in mind, Transmission of Knowledge could easily become part of a much bigger work.

Further Reading:

Viva Arte Viva: 57th International Art Exhibition La Biennale Di Venezia Paperback by Christine Macel, Rizzoli  International Publications, 2017

Perfect Home by Do Ho Suh, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art Kanazawa

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