28 - 30 july 2021

Nanyang academy of fine arts

Orang Asli Storytellers Team Up With 2 Creatives To Keep Culture Alive

Just as weavers create a tapestry, Gerimis Art Project is an effort to weave stories of Malaysia’s Orang Asli artists together, to depict a vast and evolving narrative.

For too long have Malaysians and the world viewed indigenous folk through an outdated and biased lens.

Now Gerimist Art Project aims to tear down such negative stereotypes.

Wendi Sia and Sebastian Heng, who founded the Gerimis collaborative art and archiving platform, formed up with the idea to showcase the different and diverse stories that belong to Orang Asli individuals and communities.

Few have acknowledged the creativity of Orang Asli, many of whom are traditional artisans, contemporary artists, musicians, and photographers.

Instead of being lauded and appreciated for their centuries-old inherited wisdom and craft, Orang Asli in Malaysia and many aboriginal tribes around the world, commonly suffer from erroneous public preconceptions largely due to a lack of written history.

Since 2018, the Gerimis team has collaborated with key Orang Asli artists to curate and document the variety and richness of culture that belong to original tribes around Peninsular Malaysia.

These stories and accounts are rarely included in history books and remain underrepresented at indigenous festivals.

Eksentrika speaks to Wendi to discover why and how the initiative came about.


Collecting the Drizzle of Untold Stories

The inspiration for the project first came to co-founders Wendi and Sebastian during a hike in Ayer Hitam Forest Reserve.

The duo had stumbled into some private land and was surprised to discover that there were Orang Asli settlements in Puchong.

Wendi was intrigued to learn that indigenous community settlements existed so close to Subang Jaya, where she herself grew up in.

It was different from the common and widely held presumption by many city-dwellers, that the Orang Asli live far away in remote areas of the forest.

Wendi and Sebastian soon realised that they needed to know more about Malaysia’s indigenous peoples, their history, culture, and developing progress.

Given their own creative backgrounds – Wendi, a copywriter, and Sebastian, an illustrator – decided to develop an art project around the issue.

Read the full article here.