19 feet Todak (Garfish)

~   by kamaldollah on Aug 29, 2006.
todak1.jpg

Work in progress. After first colour immersion dying.

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A 19 feet long batik painting done for my 1st summative assessment.

Todak: Fallacy of folklore
M. Kamal Dollah, 2006
580 x 82cm, Batik on cotton

Artist Statement:
Kamal questions the role of folklore in conditioning the mind-set of a community. The scale of this Batik painting comments on the overbearing confines infiltrating our mind from young and perhaps entrapping us with misbelief in adulthood.

‘Singapura dilanggar todak’ – Singapore swarmed by garfish (often misrepresented as swordfish) is a Malay folklore. As the title suggests, it is uniquely local. It is unlike most other Malay legends that are usually adaptation of stories from other cultures.[1] Briefly, it is a story about a simple boy who suggested a solution to overcoming a catastrophe. He was sentenced to death for fear that he may grow up to be smarter than the king.

Without consideration for its negative overtone this story is told in many variations, even one that account the boy’s blood stained a hill – suggesting how ‘Redhill’ got its name.

The work invites viewer to reflect on how cultural conditioning influences  perception.

[1] Dr. Liaw Yock Fang, ‘Sastera warisan’ articles in Berita Harian on Tuesdays; Ekstra, Selasa Warisan i.e. 19th December 2006.

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