Scholar

The Koboi Project

By: Niranjan Rajah  

Globalization has produced an unprecedented degree of homogenization in the mainstream of contemporary art. As artists are drawn from local contexts into the transnational markets and biennales, diverse modes of representation and communication are assimilated to a reductive lingua franca of presentation. The Koboi Project, which began in 2013, takes a photo-conceptual/ performative approach integrating family life, community, interventions, as well as discursive engagements on social media. It attempts to re-imagine art as a translocal activity within a new understanding of humanity as a technologically mediated arena of migration and settlement in which art, artists and their contexts all operate under diasporic conditions. While the Koboi Project participates in mainstream global arenas, it also insists upon a nuanced engagement with local communities and idioms. This duality of address allows me to approach art as a vocation of personal, social and metaphysical significance, while engaging in a conversation within the professional mainstream about the nature and purpose of art. In 2018, I carried out street interventions in Belem, Lisboa and in the Portuguese Village, Malacca as the basis of a photographic series titled Kaza Nunteng Porta (House Without a Door). Belem is the port from which Portuguese adventurers set sail to take Malacca in 1511 and the Portuguese Village is the last vestige of Portuguese life in contemporary Malaysia. I intend to exhibit this series in Lisboa accompanied by performances and community engagements. In this paper, I locate this series within the praxis of the Koboi Project. Series Website: https://koboibalikkampung.wixsite.com/nuntengporta

Art, Globalization, Translocality, Community, Communication, Idiom, Performance
The Arts in Social, Political, and Community Life
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session



Prof. Niranjan Rajah

Assistant Professor, School of Interactive Art and Technology, Simon Fraser University


Niranjan Rajah is a pioneer of new media art in Southeast Asia. He was co-curater of the Malaysian National Art Gallery's 'First Electronic Art Show' and co-founder of 'E-Art ASEAN Online', the first online portal for regional electronic art. His 'Failure of Marcel Duchamp/ Japanese Fetish Even!' which was presented at ISEA in 1996 is recognized as the first Internet artwork in the region. Niranjan's contribution to Southeast Asian new media art was recognized in a two-man retrospective titled 'Relocations' at ISEA Singapore in 2008. Niranjan's current photo-conceptual/ performative Koboi Project has been exhibited at the National Gallery, Kuala Lumpur; The Singapore Biennale;The Burning Man Festival, Nevada; Courtyard Hiroo, Tokyo; the inaugural Kuala Lumpur Biennale and the alternative Bangkok Biennale. Niranjan has been visiting faculty at the Cyberarts/ Cyberculture Research Initiative (CCRI), National University of Singapore; Design Media Arts, UCLA, Ignite Programme, TCS, TATA Group of Companies and the International Art Gallery, Ismaili Jubliee Arts Festival, Lisbon. Niranjan was a member of the Media Arts Advisory Committee for the Canada Council for the Artsand a member of the Board of Directors of the Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary ARt (Center A). He was also a mamber of the advissory board of teh BANFF New Media Institute (BNMI) and of the Board of Directors of the Inter Society for Electronic Art (ISEA).