Curating Nation: Reflections on SUSURMASA | A talk by Zanita Anuar, Director of Museum Innovation, Malaysia Museums Department

Date: 14 October 2011, Friday 
Time: 6.30pm
Venue: NUS Museum
Admission free. To register email: or call 6516 8429

The landmark exhibition SUSURMASA Seni Lukis Malaysia Bersama 50 Tahun Balai Seni Lukis Negara or Timelines of Malaysian Art presented a large scale re-introduction to the Permanent Collection of the National Art Gallery of Malaysia (NAG) in conjunction with the celebration of NAG's Golden Jubilee in 2008. Its objective was to put on display, the permanent collection of national visual arts heritage. Curatorially, it was set up across six thematic galleries, as a series of encounters between the ethnographic and modern; the pre-colonial, the colonial, and post-independent; proposing timelines and entry points. 

The talk examines the role of the curator as a trespasser of sites. In particular, the provocateur of museums and galleries, as sites where issues of identity, national memory, power and place intersect. The NAG has been engaged in the preservation, representation and contextualization of objects, cultures and histories over space and time. Institutional curators become culture brokers and memory shapers, and are influential in illustrating and re-illustrating popular perceptions of the past. The Malaysian art audience of the 21st century has demanded that the institution responsible for culture and arts take up the challenge of providing discourse around the diverse perspectives of multi-culturalism and under-represented groups. Investigations on ethnographies and postcolonial trends, have spurred the curators who have worked alongside area-specialists, historians and archaeologists to query the categories of art, aesthetics, text and authenticity in developing a National timeline. The Susurmasa becomes a site investigation.

Zanita Anuar started her career as a Lecturer in INTI and LICT and assumed the role of Education Curator in the Nanyang Gallery of Art, Hong Leong Group Bhd, in 1993. She later served at the National Art Gallery of Malaysia from 1995 to 2010. In 2011, she assumed a new role as the Director of Museum Innovation at The Malaysia Museums Department, initiating appreciation programs in embracing innovation in a museum environment. She is currently advising The University of Malaya on their collections and curatorial strategies towards the creation of the University Malaya Art Gallery (UMAG), and is the Guest Curator for an upcoming charity exhibition in aid of Palestine and the Al Aqsa mosque.

About Curating Nation Talk Series
In recent years, the idea of the nation has been studied not merely as a site of economic, political or geographic persuasions but also as a cultural object of analysis. Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Camping and Tramping Through the Colonial Archive | The Museum in Malaya, this talk series brings together leading art practitioners from Southeast Asia in an attempt at discerning the complexities involved in curating aspects of the nation within museological or gallery settings. Ranging from the deployment of exhibitions as a mode of cultural production, to the play of cosmopolitan identities at international biennales, curating the nation is conceived as a platform for the interdisciplinary discussion of memory, object and practice.

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Event photos 


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