Shooshie Sulaiman at Kadist

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Artist: Shooshie Sulaiman

Exhibition title: Malay Mawar

Venue: Kadist, Paris, France

Date:  June 11 – July 31, 2016

Photography: A. Mole, all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Kadist, Paris

Spring artist in residency, Shooshie Sulaiman is part of the Kadist collection. Her first solo exhibition in Europe, will open at Kadist Paris on June 10, 2016.

The work of Malaysian artist Shooshie Sulaiman develops in various forms, from site-specific installations and outdoor performances, to a daily practice of writing and drawing. She started her artistic practice during the 1990’s, when Malaysia opened to the free market and became more international, not without psychological impact on its society. Thus, her work can be perceived as a precious testimony of what the country went through, an emotional landscape of what happened politically and socially during that time.

 Shooshie Sulaiman commits to two complementary practices, her personal work and her collective projects, which aim for a solidary artistic community. Challenging the demarcations between the private and public spheres, the commercial and non-commercial, she created a gallery in 2006, named 12. When she considered that the model was inappropiate, she started a platform for artists, MAIX (Malaysia Artists’ Intention Experiment), in 2014. These initiatives reflect her main concerns of sharing spaces and experiences to develop a deeper collective awareness, challenging the institution by trying to shape one able to face every type of artistic experiment such as ephemeral art.

Next to writing and drawing, Shooshie Sulaiman practices gardening on a daily basis in Kuala Lumpur.  In France, the tradition of gardening has turned it into a codified art, characterized by historical movements, which mirror the spirit of the times. How can an activity that she considered as natural as drinking water be celebrated as an art? Is an artist a gardener, or is a gardener an artist? Wondering if a scientific experiment could be aesthetic, she started by creating a new rose, grafting two botanic species: a rose coming from the bush growing on her mother’s grave in Johor State, the other one from a farm nearby Paris. Given that earth is just earth, and biosciences can create and clone exotica, why would a Malay Mawar (“rose” in Malay) marrying a French Rose not be singularly original and successful?

In Kadist’s outdoor spaces, where the “marriage” took place, she has created not only a fusion, a bridge between two cultures, but a living exhibition which asks for care. In parallel, Shooshie Sulaiman involved participants in the dissemination of her drawings around Parisian gardens, a protocol that she calls « Planting Drawings ». This research on gardening extends the framework of the exhibition itself, it nourishes a long-term project that the artist is developing with her community through the acquisition of a plot of land in the forest two and a half hours away from Kuala Lumpur- a vision of an ecosystem in which gardening could provide a living.
Can an aesthetic experiment in the long run define a model of sustainability?

With words by Jenniffa Hanum Dadameah

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