Single Story

Recently, I  watched this Tedtalks video by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie titled ‘The Danger of A Single Story’ which I found was really useful for my research and project that I am currently working on as it touches the subject of ‘cultural authenticity’

According to Adichie, she stated that most of us gets immersed with the media where it only tell us a single story. People tend to get influenced by media and believe how the (media) portray a person or a culture, just because that is the only single story that they’ve heard. Adichie challenged us to expand more in terms of knowing a person and their cultures  by getting to know other things better than a single story.

This reminded me of situations when my friends who are from the Peninsula (west) Malaysia thought about East Malaysia (which consists of Sabah and Sarawak state). My friends who have never been to East Malaysia has always thought that the people over there live on trees, having a vision that Sabah and Sarawak are one big tropical forest. This is one of the examples on how a single story could influence people’s perception on something like how Adichie described as well.

In researching about cultural authenticity, I believe there are ways for us to break the stereotype thinking of ones culture. It is also important for us to always understand who we are and identify with our own culture as well. Towards the end of Adichie’s talk, she added that if we can reject a single story anywhere, we will regain some kind of paradise.

Video link:

[visited on 16 January 2014]


Visual Research: Tamparuli Tamu

Another interesting illustrated book written and illustrated by Tina Rimmer called The Tamparuli Tamu. This book is a good source of visual research as I am able to see the art style and the way how Rimmer portrays the Tamu in Tamparuli. (Tamparuli is a small town and a sub-district of Tuaran on the west coast of Sabah, Malaysia)

Rimmer puts he focus on illustrating the local native people through observing them while they were doing their weekly trading and what’s fascinating about this book is I am also able to get a better understanding on the lifestyles of the native people by studying their poses, movements and actions. It is also a very straight to the point way to show readers on how a scene in a Tamu looked like.


The Tamparuli Tamu by Tina Rimmer


Fig 1. Medicine, music and massage


Fig 2. Different type of fruits and also the traditional sacks carried by the native people.


Fig 3. Squatting poses by the native women. This is also a typical scene in Tamu.


Fig 4. Native women


Fig 4. Portraits of native women


Rimmer, T. (1999) The Tamparuli Tamu: A Sabah Market. The Sabah Society

Available at:

FAT2: Research

December has always been the busiest month for me and it has been pretty tough trying to balance or even find time to focus and continue with my research. But since it is already January 2015, there will be another major deadline soon hence it is time to get back into the ‘study mode’ although I am sure I’ll be having another tough time when I officially start my day job again next week. I am here in the public library once again in my hometown and currently in the midst of planning and looking for ideas to continue my FAT2 project.

I came across this book called “The Tamu: Sabah’s Native Market as a reference for this project. With relevant information and more visuals, I am planning to continue with what I left of from my FAT1 project and create a ‘campaign’ to promote this native market, mostly targeted to tourist and younger generations.


Fig 1. Sabah Tourism Board’s print ad.

The above picture happened to be on the last page of the book and upon seeing it, I’ve also decided to have Sabah Tourism Board as my potential project client to work with. Apart from that, I am also looking into re-designing Sabah Tourism Board’s brochure/booklet, applying contemporary design elements to suit my target audience. My keyword ‘authentic’ will still play an important role in this project, so I will need to work on my ideas to have the outcome that I am visualising in my head.


Fig 2. Tamu in the past.


Fig 3. Tamu in the past



Fig 4. Tamu in present day.


Fig 5. Tamu in present day.


    Fig 6. Tamu in present day.

Fig 6. Tamu in present day.

    Fig 7. Tamu in present day.

Fig 7. Tamu in present day.

Tamu offers the opportunity to meet the local people, and experience the way they live in distinctly different cultures and yet in harmony with one another and with nature.

Tamu provides ‘authentic’ encounter with the rich cultural, culinary and traditional aspects of the lives of Sabah’s many ethnic groups.


H.S, Chong., A.F, Low., (2008), The Tamu: Sabah’s Native Market, Opus Publications

Available at:

(assessed on 2 January 2015)

FAT1: Research

I’ve finally submitted my first assignment which was the Annotated Bibliography and Critical Analysis for Research & Enquiry subject about a month ago. It has been quite tough so far, trying to look for relevant references from different sources. Reading took a lot of my time as well since I had to know whether the content suits my keyword that I have chosen. Now that part has been done, it is time for me to continue on to my project for FAT1. Initially, I have an idea in designing postage stamps based on my keyword and also as a part to promote the indigenous tribe in my hometown but  after having a Skype conversation with my tutor, I have decided to change my idea and decided to design a mini booklet instead. My focus will on promoting the ‘authentic’ goods that can be found in the local open market. I will explain more about this in my next post.

But here are some design style preferences that I want my booklet to look like. In a way, I wanted it to look more ‘raw’ hence I still wanted to apply hand lettering and my own painting in the booklet. More progress to come!

Screen shot 2014-11-28 at 3.03.41 PM

El Palauet Living Barcelona BY MARNICH.

Screen shot 2014-11-28 at 3.03.57 PM

El Palauet Living Barcelona BY MARNICH.


Festival de Jazz de la Garriga 2014 BY CHAPPARO CREATIVE STUDIO


Express Your Sympathy by Natalie Balnova.


Express Your Sympathy by Natalie Balnova.


(visited on 28 November 2014)

Exoticism Research: Part 4

Interesting article that I read from The Star online on Sabah-based art activist Pangrok Sulap and their recent exhibition in Japan. What’s nice to know is that their artworks have gained interest out of Malaysia and that is such a great accomplishment seeing that they come from a small district, Ranau in Sabah. I also like the fact that their artworks that they have produced challenges the current issues that is happening in Sabah like political, economic and not forgetting their implementation of cultural heritage in their artworks, in this case the indigenous people in Sabah. 

Sabah-based art collective finds audience in Tokyo

(written Daryl Goh for The Star Online)

Pangrok Sulap, a Sabah-based art activist collective, is fast gaining a niche following abroad and attracting punk-minded kindred spirits.The collective’s DIY aesthetic, which combine art and social action, is predominantly voiced through woodcut prints, posters and banners. Pangrok Sulap’s work is the subject of an exhibition now on at the creative space Irregular Rhythm Asylum in Tokyo. The show, curated by Risa Tokunaga, a lecturer/writer from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, collects 20 pieces of Pangrok Sulap’s woodcut creations made in the last two years. “Pangrok” means punk rock, while “sulap” means a farmer’s hut. Risa discovered Pangrok Sulap’s work late last year while doing research on DIY art scenes in South-East Asia. This year she made three visits – research and study trips – to the collective’s homebase in Ranau, a mountainous district situated at the foot of Mount Kinabalu.

“There is a growing interest towards the DIY art scenes and underground communities in South-East Asia (especially Indonesia, Malaysia) in Japan. Themes of empowerment, education and giving voice to the marginalised communities are universal in nature and they resonante with a wider audience despite language barriers,” says Risa in an e-mail interview.

Pangrok Sulap’s core members include artists/designers Jerome Manjat, Rizo Leong and McFeddy, while a loose collective of members help out with its outreach programmes through the small towns of Sabah. Risa documented the group’s work and the process behind it (through art and short film) for this Tokyo show.

“What I am trying to do is to translate and articulate Pangrok Sulap’s themes to a Japanese audience. The group’s work is something that people in KL or Tokyo need to listen to. Be it marginalised communities in Sabah or Okinawa, we have to take notice of their struggles,” she adds.

Risa says that Pangrok Sulap, which was formed in 2010 in Ranau, has made significant strides as a DIY movement which balances community engagement and social protest.

“Through its poster art, Pangrok Sulap has promoted debate, questioned (Sabah state) policies and advocated change. They have made themselves relevant to the times as their culture and surroundings start to change with modernisation,” says Risa.

At this exhibition, a Tokyo-based woodblock print collective Anti-War, Anti-Nuclear and Arts of Block-print Collective (A3BC) has expressed interest in a collaboration with Pangrok Sulap. Risa also mentions the importance of Indonesian art activists like Marjinal and Taring Padi, both have inspired a new generation of woodcut artists with a social awareness in South-East Asia.

For the Japanese audience, as Risa mentions, it will be very exciting to see how they relate to topics like Sabah locals priced out of climbing Mount Kinabalu, mega-dam projects that threaten to wipe out communities, the “IC Project”, the loss of culture, sigup (rolled-up cigarette) sellers overtaken by illegal cigarette traders, Kaamatan festivity, Borneo beads and why the language of unity remains central to Pangrok Sulap’s mission.

In a separate interview, Pangrok Sulap’s Rizo Leong says, “We never thought that anybody outside of Ranau would be paying attention to what we do. It’s great to find supporters of our work outside of Malaysia. Ours is a struggle that will continue and our art will tell the stories of rural Sabahan life and her people left in the margins … that they must not be forgotten or ignored.”


This recent Pangrok Sulap woodcut print, which is on show at an exhibition in Tokyo, addresses the plight of the indigenous Dusun people in Ulu Papar, a community of small villages near Kota Kinabalu in Sabah.


Tingaton in dusun language is a betel leaf that is usually sold by the old folks people in Sabah. Clever usage of wordplay between ‘climbathon’ which is a Mt. Kinabalu race that is held every year and also the word Tingaton.


Endangered animals.


The effect of illegal logging towards wildlife.

References: (visited on 5 November 2014)

Image source: (visited on 5 November 2014)

Exoticism Research: Part 3

I have been reading a book that I found from the library named “Beyond Orientalism: How west won over by Islamic art” This book was produced by Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia. It basically tell the readers the history on how and when the west adapted the influence of eastern art, in this case Islamic art into their own artworks and eventually called it ‘orient’. I found a graphic designer through Behance named Wafa Said who’s from Egypt. I thought her works on blending western famous cartoon characters with oriental elements are nice. I like the implementation of basic design elements in it as well such as dots, lines and shapes to create patterns around the character. The outcome has a new oriental feel in it and it represents well in the term of ‘east meets west’








(visited on 5/10.2014)

Paradigm Shifts in the Western View of Exotic Arts (by Esther Pasztory)

What exactly do we mean when we say “the West”? We generally refer to a geographic area the core of which is Europe and North America after the sixteenth century. Sometimes we add Australia and less frequently Latin America. (Latin America is seen to be some kind of a mixture of the West and the Nonwest.) Usually, we include the Classical Antiquity of Greece and Rome, but not the European Middle Ages, or ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. The epicenter of the “West” is actually even smaller, being limited to the civilization of western Europe and some of the U.S.

Non-geographically, the “West” is also the concept of a scientific and technological culture that has come to colonize the “Nonwest”—politically, economically, militarily and ideologically—over the last four centuries. The West has had a dominating world discourse for so long because its scientific and technological approach revolutionized the relationship of humans to nature and to one another. This is what we call “modernity”. The concept of modernity is confused in the West because aspects of industrial culture are indissolubly blended with western ideological values. Nonwesterners easily take apart what they see as a more or less neutral modernity (cars and cell phones) from western beliefs. To put it another way, modernity happened in the world in western clothes—it could have happened in another guise, perhaps East Asian, and that would have been another story.

Read more in this here.


(visited on November 1st, 2014)

Modernity sowed the seeds of globalization, and globalization has resulted in the emergence of the Nonwest away from the actual and ideological domination of the West. For example, today, China’s relation to Africa is as, or more important than, it’s relation to the West; and the world watches more Indian Bollywood films than American Hollywood ones. Nonwesterners are relating to each other without the mediation of the West.