‘Perkara Halal’ by Azizan Paiman

Paiman’s mixed-media installation, ‘Perkara Halal’, was part of the Kembara Tenggara exhibition (1999), at Balai, curated by Tengku Sabri Ibrahim featuring works by the 1997 Young Contemporary Show winners. The installation featured a plastic feces beneath a gilded chair. The work was a comment on the manipulation of naive orang kampung by corrupt politicians, who used crony agents to buy land earmarked for development from unsuspecting villagers. After several years, the land would be re-sold to the government for a large profit. In Paiman’s words, “when a person is too powerful, even if we see clearly the “najis” (a metaphor for corruption and nepotism) beneath them, we can’t do anything.” Balai requested a statement from the artist, explaining the work, which Paiman provided. He was told that the work would not be changed but at the Opening, he discovered that the plastic feces had been removed. No formal explanation was given, nor was he informed who had authorized the removal. There were rumours that it was on the instruction of the Acting Director, but this was unconfirmed. (Source: Azizan Paiman).