PROXIMITIES Catalogue by Zulkhairi Zulkiflee


Proximities is the first solo exhibition by Singaporean artist-curator Zulkhairi Zulkiflee. This exhibition held at Objectifs as part of Singapore Art Week 2022 presents a new video work surrounding Malay masculinities and their plural representations.

At the beginning of 2020, artist-curator Zulkhairi Zulkiflee focused on the trope of the Malay Boy found in the works of Singaporean artist Cheong Soo Pieng. An indirect extension that included a visual study of colonial postcards depicting the implicit relationship of boy and crocodile, and personal photographs of his father in the eighties, Zulkhairi’s consistent interest in images and visuality is rigorously anchored by the Malay male body. Here, his works circulate key themes like representation, racialized masculinities, and Malay male identity formations.

In the many Malay boy(s) of Cheong’s multiple yet elusive renditions, Zulkhairi attempts to locate the Malay male in art history while unpacking underlying systems of power that have shaped and naturalized understanding of difference. When exorcised from the framings of art history – one informed by overlapping lenses of pioneer artists and their Western predecessors, the Malay boy now stands as a figure (re)molded by contemporary currents and various intercessors.

Against such discourses, the exhibition primarily focuses on a video that foregrounds Malay masculinities and their plural representations — intersecting wide-ranging sources from art history to personal meditations.

This catalogue contains essays by Noorshidah Ibrahim, Tan Yong Jun, and Nissa Abdurazzak.

About the artist

Zulkhairi Zulkiflee (b. 1991) is an artist-curator committed to a practice centered on Malayness and its social ontology. He creates lens-based artworks that see Malayness through the racialized Malay male body and its relation to local and global contexts. Some exhibitions include The Body as a Dream, Art Agenda SEA, Singapore (2021); 10th France + Singapore Photographic Arts Award, Alliance Francaise, Singapore (2020); Stories We Tell To Scare Ourselves With, MOCA, Taipei (2019); and The Direction I Rub One Matters, Grey Projects, Singapore (2018). He is the recipient of the Chow and Lin mentorship (2019), Objectifs’ inaugural Curator Open Call (2019), and the IMPART Award (2020) Curator Category.

About the writers

Noorshidah Ibrahim is a visual art educator and freelance art writer who periodically contributes to local and international digital art magazines. Her current research interest revolves around the notion of identity in pre- and post- independence art of Singapore and Malaysia.

Tan Yong Jun is a freelance researcher, curator, and writer. His interest lies in cultural history, spatiality, and the relationship between aesthetics and identity. He is particularly interested in the Chinese diasporic aspects of these topics. He has curated exhibitions such as Tonalities: The Ink Works of Cheong Soo Pieng (2021) and worked on collaborations with public institutions to shed further light on Singapore’s cultural richness and diversity.

Nissa Abdurazzak is an arts professional who has diverse experience in the commercial, non-profit, and institutional art sector, with a focus on visual art in Southeast Asia. She completed her post-graduate in Museum Studies at Birkbeck, University of London, and received several accreditation from Sotheby’s Institute of Art London. Nissa has been a professional in the Singapore visual art scene since 2019.

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BY Zulkhairi Zulkiflee
FEATURING ESSAYS BY Noorshidah Ibrahim, Tan Yong Jun, and Nissa Abdurazzak
YEAR 2022
DETAILS Softcover

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