Saturday, 16 February 2019

Jayanto Tan

10 - 28 February      Warung Peranakan Waginem

Link to artist's website

Jayanto Tan makes exquisite installations from unlikely materials, memorably used tea bags and in this instance the spent packing cases of incense sticks. This “threw away” packaging is function first, inadvertently beautiful and when amassed by Jayanto, musical. It sings a song, exotic and familiar that is inescapably, the left overs of Chinese New Year.

Submerged within the surface clatter of his installations are meditations on being that reveal Jayanto’s unfolding autobiography. He wrote of this piece: 

"you visit my grave - my tomb will make you dance. 
- be sure to bring a tambourine.”
It [this work] focuses on themes of remembrance and narrative history that create points of connection between the past and the present, between Fujian Province the Straits of Malacca to the City of Sydney of Peranakan culture. Through discarded objects – emptied incense case Perankan cultures and personal experiences, I created hanging installations that purpose a memorial of connection to my late mother as a gift in Lunar New Year. This is a healing that creates a bridge from the past to a current living that embraces a diverse future in celebration of our contemporary world.

Fujian Province and the Straits of Malacca are exotic sounding places that gave rise to the equally exotic Peranakan culture of the Baba-Nonya, the descendants of Chinese traders who settled through the Malay archipelago before European colonization.  They prospered but more interestingly they assimilated with the Malay culture into an exotic life style expressed in architecture, clothing and food…..some of the most delicious food imaginable.

The Nonya are one of many distinct social groups that are a legacy of the migration to and colonisation of the Malay Archipelago. It is a stark contrast to the Australian experience where history is neatly split into two culture zones - before and after British colonisation. It isn’t like that of course, the Australian experience is constantly shifting but with this “shake of the tambourine” Jayanto seems to be inviting us to join his dance of assimilation.

-Tony Twigg