Testimonials: Pan Borneo Road Trip [Core Members]
[Graphic Designer of BAC]
--Story of involvement--
I was approached by Wendy who was enquiring about one of my editorial projects that I did for college regarding the cultures of Sarawak. She shared about her vision to start up a platform to understand the Borneo art culture through talking to people and I instantly felt connected to it. In a way, we kind of wanted the similar things — to better understand our identity from our roots. Till this day I am still amazed about how ideas can transcend geological barriers and connect people, as long as you're brave enough to express it.
--Role and perception--
My job scope in the platform includes setting the art direction and brand identity for the platform, besides visualizing and crafting design articles. What touched me after being a part of BAC is the platform's ability to generate such inspiring conversations. It is really great to know of so much stories carrying simple layman values. It reminds me of the hope and pride for our land. I think growing up in Sarawak, I am pretty aware of the Art Scene here but never had the idea to want to understand it further. I don't think you can fully appreciate anything if you're not willing to open yourself up to get to know it in depth.
--Why is this important--
I am a fresh grad. As someone who still has a big space of imagination in terms of career path, it is an amazing feeling to understand that there are definite possibilities for me to contribute to sustainable efforts which are aligned to my values. The platform and the collected stories remind me of the values of the land, that we are responsible to find out who we are, that there is something to be proud of worth striving for. I think is not something materialistic that we're striving for but rather to try to get back in touch to be humane again.
[Content Editor of BAC]
--Story of involvement--
It started from a 4d3n reunion road trip to Ipoh and Penang, west side of Malaysia. I was based in Kuala Lumpur and Wendy in London. Both of us had been away from our home, Sarawak for more than a decade, yet we had so much to discuss – mainly on where Sarawak and Sabah stand in the world, how little we knew about our own home, and what we could do about it.
So when Wendy approached me on the setup of BAC, I couldn’t say no – merely because... it was home.
--Role and Perception--
I am the content editor of BAC – I mainly source and layout the materials on BAC website in a manner which I think the audience would appreciate and be engaged by. Every month, it was exciting to learn how our newfound artists shape the art, heritage and culture scene in Borneo.
Setting up BAC was like discovering a hidden society within Borneo – the incredible music scene, strong social enterprise landscape dedicated to different fields of craftsmanship, existing platforms launching exciting events, notation culture in the form of murals/tattoos/literature/photography, the budding film-making industry, and culinary – why do we buy expensive imported food, when we already have an abundance of our own?
Whenever people (especially those from Peninsula) ask me, what is there to do in Kuching / Sarawak/ Borneo? Before BAC, I couldn’t give them anything. Now, I direct them to our website.
My perception of Borneo art and culture before BAC was that it was never being taken seriously enough, and that all traditions, heritage were slowly reaching extinction. What distinguishes us from the cultural leaders of the world e.g. the Japanese, the French – they are extremely proud of their own heritage and culture that so much effort is put into preservation and cultivation.
Now, I see a vast potential stirring within Borneo, just waiting for an opportunity to showcase herself to the world.
--Why this is Important--
We are quite proud with what BAC has achieved within the past months, this has inspired us to constantly find ways to enhance our modus operandi. We want to bring out more of every individual artist. We want to get to the hidden stories, unheard voices that do not have access to the internet.
Borneo being the largest island in Asia, has a highly mixed ethnic palette – Dayak, Iban, Kadazan-Dusun, Orang Ulu, Chinese, Malay, Indian and so many more.. (and these are just the ones I can think of now). There’s no limit to what we can find. What we need is an opportunity for us to take our platform to the next stage and bring Borneo to the world.
It is important we receive the support from both Malaysian and non-Malaysian because we are all deeply intertwined by history. From the colonization of the British to the Japanese empire, migration of Chinese, Indian, Malay and then to the detachment from Indonesia and finally the union with Malaya. Every world event has a ripple effect and uncovering what that effect is brings us closer to what we are as human beings.
Many people are interested in Sabah and Sarawak, more so in the recent Malaysian political climate. It is difficult but necessary to detach politics from the arts. So when our 3rd feature, Making a Difference (by social enterprises) was launched in our May feature earlier this year, it was a personal defining moment for me because it simplified what BAC was ultimately looking for. I was deeply humbled and inspired by these social enterprises who were on the ground, doing what’s best for Borneo. Borneo culture is just waiting to be put out there. To be acknowledged.
Pan Borneo project, is just the beginning.
[Craftsmanship Researcher of BAC]
---Story of involvement---
The past August must be a quite memorable experience for us in Switzerland. Someone probably thought that could be an exciting trip for friend gathering, but beyond that i had an exceptional conversation with Wendy about our home -Malaysia and Borneo. Flashing back to our old days, we both pursue the same experience away from home for decade, however, since when, we gradually fall into oblivion of homeland appreciation where we had been cultivated? As soon as BAC was introduced, I knew this will be a new dialogue in-between Non-Malaysian and Malaysian, by exploring the unexplored.
---Role and perception---
I am the craftsmanship researcher (Architectural Culture) of BAC – My role is to document and engage the traditional crafting which has been existed in Borneo since hundred years. It will embrace a series of explorations based on the traditional technic such as weaving, wood carving, tattooing, etc.
I believed that craft is the pure physical voice that represents the local. Designer or architects obligate to appreciate them and share them to people’s daily life that is how living aesthetics spontaneously be aware of. I don’t really involve myself in Borneo art and culture scene before BAC was introduced. I started be conscious of the related prospect that could happen in the coming days, the worst case could be lifeless.
By simply asking the root of us, is not only an identity clarification for ourselves, more than that is one’s cultural background that diversify the world. We were inspired how BAC undergoes cluster of conversation with different artist and designers, culinary chefs, musicians, crafters to speak out their unheard voices. That’s probably a way for Borneo to express her original character to the world with different potential faces again.
---Why is this important---
I was invited to join the first BAC online based weaving workshop 2016 organized by Wendy. Students were given a task by exploring the possible weaving method within Borneo local context with digital tool. From there, I could see the potential of combining new design tool and traditional crafting is emerging.
Pan Borneo Road Trip is such opportunity for us down to the earth, appreciating and interacting with those crafters who had been online interviewed since last six months, in order to re-celebrate both our positions in the society nowadays. From a designer or architect view of perspective, it truly needs to be supported since we sincerely want to interweave a broader level of new aesthetics not only regionally appreciation, but globally involvement.
Craftsmanship is an experience or a spirit that relatively important for designers and architects, the process allows us to think in detail, be aware of the sensitiveness of materials, and timing, I am sure this journey will record and embrace those stories from the craftsmen and let their shadowy Borneo stories express to you. So let’s finger crossed this will happen not far from now on. BAC, is now ready to move on!