Friday, April 30, 2010


The world's got too much of me in it to have much left over for here now, but I still like coming to this secret garden once in a while. Check on the moss, pluck at some weeds.

I have a new tattoo, it's three leaves on my right shoulder. It looks like an aquatint etching, ghostly and light. I love it alot. Simon from Borneo Ink was the man. Like the first time, getting tattooed was an entirely positive experience. Afterwards, you feel slightly light-headed from the pain, but so elated. It's as if all your different selves are hugging to each other fiercely, having come to a consensus about choosing a common totem, a seal, a star that guides the boat.

I live and work in my little house, attended at all times by uncertainty, incompleteness, and imperfection. This seems alright. I'm learning how to conduct them like an orchestra, although to be sure sometimes they play me! It seems that everyday I measure new strengths only by the recognition of my own weaknesses... turning lead into gold, isn't that what the alchemists did?

Magicians are a deceitful lot, don't trust them. They never remember where they bury their nuts until the last minute.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Why do we do what we do?

On one hand art is work, on the other, it beckons truth. I can put more of myself into art now than I've ever done (that's why I post here so seldom). I still need this space though, as a kind of bowl - a scrying bowl where I occasionally pour out a mess and try to divine the meaning of what I feel.

It's been a year of art trips abroad. I'm heavy and used up at the same time. I'm full - with portents, experiences, loves, achievements, failures and lessons. I'm empty - of energy, time, space, and peace. My house is a beautiful house, I've been cleaning it and filling it with all the things I love. But I want most of all to sit by a river and listen to the sound of it flowing. I want the wisdom of that timeless music. And I want to watch the sunset over the sea, dan persembahan bintang-bintang mewujudkan diri di cakerawala - performances devoid of stages, contexts, negotiations and people... with their needs, their pull, requests, affections, desires...

I remember a few lines from Goenawan Mohammed:

Akulah Adam dengan mulut yang sepi
Putra Surgawi
yang damai, terlalu damai
ketika bumi padaku melambai

I am Adam of no word
Heaven's child
at peace, too much at peace
when the earth beckons me

... this world - a kingdom. I watch it so that I can understand all over again, why we do what we do.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Just a perfect day

I was chatting with M.S. and he asked me what I was going to do on my birthday. I said 'maybe clean my house', to which he replied 'NO! No work!'. Which is quite sensible advice.

So this is what I will do:

In the morning, go for a walk in the park

Come home and put on a favorite dress

Look for a story book in the bookshop

Go and read it in a cafe where the coffee is too expensive and the vegetables are organic

Go for a massage

Come home and bathe with a new soap

Put on another favorite dress

Go for dinner with my lover

Drink wine

Sleep a great sleep

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Myanmar II

We sat on the same steps of the same YMCA building, looking out the same dusty windows at the same blue sky and run-down shack. The same Burmese flag was hanging there limply, just like it did that day last year. We sat and talked about it, smoking together. Nothing had changed, except for the addition of a pile of bricks.

I had said, see you again. And there we were.

You, me, and the pile of bricks.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Tunnel and Light

M.D. sent me some poems at last. I've been bugging him, and most recently coaxed him with a photo of a volcano. Where is he now? Not in Burma... but dreaming of it, aren't you, dear friend.

I'm gonna remember you today, and put you here, in my happy place.

Taking up too large an area of seeing and not seeing

I put some patches of white clouds in the sky that I have painted blue

I move to the right a little bit and press my thumb down

On the buildings and bridges barring my view

I slide my finger along the river which is flowing out or into my pores

I make myself a cigarette and I make sure it has the same stale smell of yesterday

I make myself some smoke to fill in my lungs till I can’t speak

And words flow back into my bloodstream

I make myself a tunnel and light a lamp at the end of it

No, I make myself a light and at the end of it, a tunnel

That stretches to the arctic pole where night is not known

I make myself a wall, put it before me and scratch on it

With my fingertips which melt and drip down the wall

The wall is relatively larger and higher than

Every single one I’ve ever leaned my body against

by M.D.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The child in me

I had to put this photo up here. K. took this during our walk around a hotspring town. A little boy (girl?) appeared out of nowhere near a shrine. We kind of had a moment without language. We are actually petting a black cat together here. The cat is behind the child. We wandered on for a little bit and then the child tugged my arm and showed me a huge bee's nest hanging under a roof above us.

I love this picture. Actually the experience with the kid was a little strange, creepy even. It was like meeting a spectre of the child in me - who doesn't know if its a boy or girl, doesn't like talking and plays very solemnly. For a few moments the very universe was reduced to the both of us, the sunshine, the cat and the green grass - outside of this there was nothing, no one. We were playing, being alive, and being really serious about it, in a way that only children can do.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Arrived home from 3 weeks in Japan. So full...

Hanging out with N.H.K, K.S., M.R. and S.W. was the ultimate. I've spent 5 years as a penggiat seni in Malaysia but never got to really know these cool people and talented artists.

N.H.K. teaching me find the Kiblat in our Tokyo hotel room.

Making up art on the spot... out of nothing, out of everything.

Dragging 20kgs all over the streets of Tokyo.

Battling the flu with sho-ju mixed in hot water.

Imbibing vast quantities of the freshest food, sake, sho-ju and beer.

Drinking bourbon and singing Let It Be accompanied by a live band in Fukuoka. My last night in Japan.

Slipping into a hot spring under the stars. Alone and naked.

In Tokyo, exhausted... finding out that at last, at last, ARTERI got the grant I had been hoping for, dreaming of. A moment of triumph that will never be erased, whatever the future outcome.

Feeling grateful for another day in this beautiful life, upon hearing about the earthquake in Indonesia and elsewhere.

Meeting S.'s mother.

Being with H.C. in Fukuoka, talking about art, life, culture, how people change and planning strategies for ARTERI.

Standing in Fukuoka Asian Art Museum and feeling bigger than the institution.

Spending time alone, realizing how solitude is as essential to my well-being as fresh food and air. A beautiful moment of self-knowledge whilst watching clouds, people and insects roll by.

Z. running up to me at the airport. Being together again with my best friend and lover.