February 7 – May 22, 2016

Curators: Kathy Foley (Wayang), Patricia Hardwick (Mak Yong), and Michael Schuster
Exhibition design: Lynne Najita

Please join us for the exhibition gala opening on Sunday, February 7, 2:00-3:30pm
which will include a reception and a live Indonesian puppet performance (wayang golek)
by visiting curator Kathy Foley

In traditional Malaysian theatre styles, such as shadow­puppetry (wayang kelantan) and the female dance drama (mak yong), influences from a variety of religions and cultures combined to create unique and distinctive Malay art forms. Through the display of puppets, costumes, instruments, video and photographs, this exhibition offers insight into these complex theatre forms and explores the social issues currently facing traditional Malaysian arts.

These art forms have been recognized by international authorities as “intangible cultural heritage,” which include traditions or living expressions inherited from ancestors, such as oral traditions, performing arts and traditional craft skills. But in recent decades, conservative religious models from the Middle East have introduced rejection of many of the more tolerant traditions of Southeast Asian Islam, prohibiting the representation of human form, banning women and men performing together, and rejecting spirit beliefs and that are part of local genres. This has led to a paradoxical situation in which traditional forms have been banned by authorities in some localities as being as “un-Islamic,” while they continue to be honored as national arts by the Malaysian federal government.

For more detailed background information on the exhibition and Southeast Asian performing arts, download the exhibition handout.

This exhibition is made possible by generous support from Richard H. Cox, The Hawaii Pacific Rim Society, and Aqua-Aston Hospitality.