Lot 010

b. Selangor, 1968


Charcoal on paper collage and digital print
76cm x 118.5cm

Private Collection, Kuala Lumpur;
acquired through Valentine Willie Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur

Surveillance, Valentine Willie Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur, 2008

ESTIMATE  RM 9,000 - 15,000

Nadiah Bamadhaj’s multi-media works are often layered with meanings and history with strong political and sociological overtones. Quiet on the Landing surveys the state of an inhabited space of the suburban terraced housing development in Malaysia. This muted yet stark piece illustrated in a transparent manner derives appropriately from Surveillance, Nadiah Bamadhaj’s solo exhibition that forms part of her Ph.D research at the Faculty of Built Environment, Art and Design at Curtin University of Technology, Australia. Surveillance offers the viewer a number of lenses to observe each work that resonates George Orwell’s dystopian novel titled Nineteen Eighty-Four that tells a story of Big Brother, the All Seeing Eye. Here, the spectre of a ‘Big Brother’ man cast in half bust looms over a landing pad with a staircase in an empty room leading ominously below floor surface and hidden from view, implying an Orwellian repression.

Nadiah’s topic of interest during her studies aims to investigate the concept of built environment, particularly in Malaysia, as a ‘process of classification and the embrace of classifications as identities’. Her thesis Creating Critical Perspectives of Normalised Spaces in Malaysia explores ‘how built environments in Malaysia contribute to the practice and maintenance of state power’. In an essay titled From Paddy Fields to Fake Plastic Palm Trees: Negotiating a Changing Social Landscape, Adeline Ooi and Berverly Yong correlate this piece to the thoughts of French philosopher Michel Foucault: “Here we see a visualisation of what Foucault calls “the spatial nesting of hierarchies of surveillance”, where individuals become “embedded’ in spatial systems, whose function is to “render the occupant visible”.

Nadiah Bamadhaj was trained as a sculptor at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand (1989 – 1992). Her work consists of drawings, video installations and digital images. Aside from making art, she has also been actively involved in non-government organisations and human rights advocacy as well as lecturing in art. She is the co-author of Aksi Write, a published account by her late brother, Kamal Bamadhaj, a human rights activist who was killed in East Timor, Indonesia in 1991. She became a full-time art practitioner in 2000 and was awarded the Nippon Foundation’s Asian Public Intellectual Fellowship in 2002. Her fellowship period was spent in Yogyakarta, Indonesia where she produced an art-based research project on the social aftermath of Indonesia’s 1965 coup attempt. Her solo exhibitions included 1965: Rebuilding Its Monuments at Galeri Petronas, Kuala Lumpur, 2001, enamlima sekarang (sixtyfive now) at Benteng Vredeburg Museum, Yogyakarta, Indonesia in 2003 and the same show was exhibited in Galeri Lontar, Jakarta, Indonesia a year later. She was represented by Richard Koh Fine Art at the 2013 Art Stage in Singapore. Nadiah now lives and works in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Surveillance, Adeline Ooi & Beverly Yong, Valentine Willie Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur, 2008.
Imagining Identities: Narratives in Malaysian Art Volume 1, RogueArt, 2013