Malaysian Citizenship is a solo exhibition by Japanese artist Kentaro Hiroki.
Having lived and worked in Thailand for over a decade, Hiroki’s works often centre on exploring Southeast Asian culture and identities.
According to the gallery’s press release, “His interests in the region include looking into the complexities of its varied cultures and peoples and their complicated affiliations to their nations and histories.”
In 2017, Hiroki was invited to a residency program supported by the gallery. The artist spent a year researching about Malaysia, its history, anthem and certain pivotal moments in the formation of the identities of its people.
Hiroki’s research process often saw him searching high and low, from the National Archives to basement-level flea markets. While doing so, Hiroki came across the book Malaysian Citizenship, by Tan Sri Mohamed Sufian.
The exhibition features a reproduction of the book. The pages are framed in pairs, isolated on single walls, displayed as pieces of art, suggesting disassociation from its "artefact-ness" as a book.
A press release states that the reproduction, “forces the viewer to come close and inspect for flaws and the presence of the artist’s hand.”
The act of reproducing is touted as a way for Hiroki to engage directly with the found object. This process is said to “highlight the material and aesthetic qualities of the object over its symbolic, and therefore, national and political significance.”