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Residencies Studio Sessions: Revisiting the Penunggu* and the Demon Naga at the Threshold, Artist talk by Zarina Muhammad (Singapore), Artist-in-Residence

5 Sep 2019, Thu 07:00 PM - 08:30 PM
Block 37 Malan Road, #01-04

Claiming the role of the artist as “cultural ventriloquist” who lends multiple voices to spectral matters and speculative histories, for this talk Zarina Muhammad will weave together research threads and aesthetic strategies that underpin the main projects she developed in the past year: Talismans for Peculiar Habitats, Pharmacopeias for Accredited Agents of Poisoning and Apotropaic Texts, and Pragmatic Prayers for the Kala at the Threshold. The artist will unpack the polyphonic narratives embedded in her installations and expand upon her long-term engagement with Austronesian cosmologies, guardian spirits, non-conforming bodies, and memory lapses occurring in the cultural shifts from pre-colonial to post-colonial times. 


The talk will take place in the artist’s studio.


Penunggu refers to the spirit that guards, supervises, or protects a particular place, region, nation, age group, country, culture, or occupation. It is believed that it can be protective, benign or malevolent. Though not entirely synonymous with the Kala, the gate guardian in sacred architectures, the penunggu is also a guardian of spaces. The root word of ʻpenungguʼ is derived from the Malay word ʻtungguʼ, which means ʻto waitʼ.


Image: Studio of Zarina Muhammad, Residencies OPEN, 29 June 2019. Courtesy NTU CCA Singapore.

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