Writing the text for an exhibition in George Town, Penang, 2015
In May 2015, I was the writer (and part curator) for an exhibition in George Town, Penang, in Malaysia, The Crescent Moon exhibition (about Asian Muslims in NZ, for which I wrote the text) was going to the George Town arts festival, and the festival organisers wanted a companion exhibition, in the same style, based on a local community. So the new exhibition was about the Indian Muslim community in George Town. I spent two weeks living in the heart of the historical part of George Town, working with a local photographer and researcher and a team of people from the community and the festival. I interviewed more than 30 people and wrote the text to accompany a photograph of each. My Te Papa skills were very valuable. I felt extraordinarily lucky to have this experience.
In July/August I went back to Penang to finish the exhibition and attend the opening (thanks to the continuing generosity of the Asia NZ Foundation, which sponsored the project). The exhibition was shown alongside a selection from The Crescent Moon New Zealand exhibition. I hadn’t realized how differently the NZ text would read in a new setting. Text that I thought would at least be eye-opening for New Zealanders here, was very challenging for readers there. It was all illuminating.