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Pangrok Sulap’s artwork Sabah Tanah Air-Ku was removed on February 26 from the ESCAPE from the SEA exhibition organised by Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur (JFKL). — Picture via Facebook/ESCAPE from the SeaPangrok Sulap’s artwork Sabah Tanah Air-Ku was removed on February 26 from the ESCAPE from the SEA exhibition organised by Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur (JFKL). — Picture via Facebook/ESCAPE from the SeaKUALA LUMPUR, March 11— Artists have condemned the removal of an artwork by a Sabah-based art collective from an exhibition here a fortnight ago.

Pangrok Sulap’s artwork Sabah Tanah Air-Ku was removed on February 26 from the ESCAPE from the SEA exhibition organised by Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur (JFKL).

“We reiterate again our opposition to these decisions by JFKL, and are disappointed with the lack of communication and transparency about the situation, which has fuelled much confusion, frustration and speculation,” said the statement signed by four artists who also participated in th the exhibition.

The artists are Ali Alasri, Faiq Syazwan Kuhiri, Mark Teh and Wong Tay Sy. The statement was posted on Teh’s Facebook account.

The artists said that JFKL previously claimed that a “misreading” of the artwork led to the decision to remove the artwork.

“How exactly was Sabah Tanah Air-Ku at APW ‘misread’, and what was the rationale or motivation behind this?” the artists asked.

“And most importantly, who ‘misread’ the work, and following that, seemingly lodged a complaint to the exhibition organisers and/or other authorities, which led to the decision to take down the work?

“They also said that the work received many positive responses from audiences.

“To insist on only one reading of the work, and to take action based on this narrow reading closes off many other ways of interpretation, thinking, expression and dialogue,” they said.

The artists also expressed concern that the removal of the artwork continues a “toxic tradition” where private opinions of some individuals expressed to those is power is “responsible for censoring an artwork.”

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