Monday, February 26, 2007

Probably Not A Cultural Desert...

Listening to: Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out Of This Country









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I was thinking of writing about my trip to see M Ward in San Francisco last Feb 3rd. But then, several things have been going on recently, that I think I oughta to write first...

So Matt... you'll just hafta wait... sorry


One of my friends just left Penang for Singapore... after six years on The Island she needed a different environment and a new change in her life. Penang was becoming too stagnant for her after six years... especially in the A&E field. To me, Singapore may be cooler when it comes to the arts, but when it comes to political stuff or things that encourages the masses to start thinking critically... it remains rather sedated, forcefully.

I've lived here for just over a year, and I had always found it to be snail paced and underdeveloped when it came to public transportation and entertainment, given its large population. Last Saturday, I had a chat with a painter/art-gallery manager after joget-ing with a 50-something Nyonya in a slinky kebaya at some exhibition of Penang Chinese cultures near Armenian & Chulia Street. His frank opinion was... that the Penang crowd aren't very appreciative of art, despite living in among the most historical and culturally richest cities in Malaysia. Given the large throngs of locals at the event, I could not agree totally... but I felt some sense in what he said. He wasn't the first person I had met in Penang to bitch about the scene... or lack thereof...

For an island-city of 1.5 million people, there's surprisingly little demand for entertainment aside from commercialized pop music (English, Chinese, and Malay), film, and theatre. GSC-Gurney is nearly empty when its screening non-Hollywood/Hongkongwood/Bollywood foreign movies and indie local flicks. And according to a friend, USM-Penang once had a film club that did screenings. But it died out due to a lack of interest amongst the students. An on-campus film club going bust because no students were interested?! Now that's a shock.

PS: We have our own little society (started last November) near Weld Quay that shows alternative foreign films via projector onto a white wall. If you're interested, email me.


I wonder sometimes if KL acts like this giant vacuum cleaner... sucking in all the A&E people from all over Malaysia (including Penang) into it? Kuala Lumpur offers better opportunities, a better appreciative crowd, and a bigger pool of fellow filmmakers, artists, and musicians that you can draw support and influence from.

Or maybe the people are there, but they're all scattered among the island with no idea of finding folks with similar interests?


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