PARIS, city of love, romance and dreams, holds a fascination for many — the mere mention of its name brings to mind art, music, ballet, opera, food, architecture, the Moulin Rouge…
It’s no different for Bernard Goh, founder and Artistic Director of HANDS Percussion (HANDS). His interest in Paris began during childhood, when his room had a poster of a woman wearing only a pearl necklace in front of the Eiffel Tower, as the tune to La Vie En Rose played from his mum’s musical jewellery box.
Decades later at 37, his dream of visiting Paris came true.
In 2008, he dropped by the city and even thought of living there! He soaked in the atmosphere and walked along the Seine, saw the aforementioned tower, visited Montmartre, the Louvre, Notre Dame and enjoyed the many talented buskers around the city.
Paris may not have been how he imagined it to be — for a start, it felt crowded and a bit untidy — but this did not stop him from exploring his dream city. He walked everywhere.
Some years later, his Parisian dream still lingering, he met a group of French musicians and artists living and working in Kuala Lumpur. He befriended them and soon enough, a light bulb switched on somewhere – ping!
“We must do a project together!” pleaded Bernard to his newfound friends. “Stage a concert combining both art and music. It will be great!”
Fast forward to today, and HANDS is ready with their latest offering. OPIUM, a display of artistic expression by French and Malaysian artists, is set to showcase a synergy of cultures via a combination of performance art, visuals and music.
But why call it OPIUM?
Bernard’s latest project is also one with deeper, more personal roots.
His grandfather, an opium smoker, frequently helped Bernard on his school projects. Adept in arts and crafts, the old man was an integral fixture in a time when Bernard’s love affair with all things beautiful began.
As such, the smell of opium evokes many things for Bernard. These memories — good and bad — have led and reminded him of the good and bad in everything. For everything that has happened or taken place, he also knew he can choose to take away the good, or the silver lining.
The good defined him, and through this concert, Bernard wants to share these memories and impressions left in his life.
For this production, three French artists together with eight local artists comprising musicians, visual artists, a calligrapher, a dancer, and a fashion designer, will be collaborating with HANDS to bring to life their thoughts and feelings about finding inspiration. The Malaysians will be drawing from within, while the French will be looking at their roles as artists in a foreign country.
Stay tuned for next week, when we bring you a more comprehensive look into the production.
Hands Percussion presents Opium at the DPAC Arts Festival from 26 – 31 July 2016. For more information, make sure to check out their official Facebook page and keep an eye out for more details to come over the next few weeks! Written by Swee Chin Pan and edited by The Daily Seni.