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Kembali Ke Pangkal Jalan

(Back to the right path)


Queerness in Malay culture is nothing new; from the sida-sida — transgender palace guardians — to mak yong performers — a traditional northern peninsular Malay dance — queers have been a part of Malay society as intermediaries between our world and the larger universe (Peletz, 2009). However, there has been much persecution on queer Malays as they are seen to have contravene Islamic belief.

Although many artists have addressed the conflict between queerness and Malayness, such as Norah Lea’s Mandi Bunga — a photo series on gender and cultural identity — very little have addressed the tension between queerness and Islamic belief, which has become a core identity marker in Malay culture.

Kembali Ke Pangkal Jalan is a mixed media installation that explores and highlight ways which queer Malays navigate the challenges confronting their sexuality in heteronormative Malay spaces. This installation also questions existing anti-queer sentiments amongst the Malay populace, and invites reflections on the notion of queerness in relation to Malay identity and Islam.

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