As soon as one arrives at Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (KWAP)’s lobby, one would see the blinding afternoon light penetrating through the glass windows and the shadows casted by the many metallic edifices. Then, the colours come in the form of lines, circles, transparent structures and mirrors at each side of the lobby where Bono Stellar’s installations to celebrate the Merdeka Day are erected. One would have to take more than five minutes to properly take in the arrangements of the many shapes and mediums, sit down and interpret for themselves what the sculptures represent and mean. The installation features the theme for the company’s initiative in commemorating our Independence Day which is #WargaNegaraKu. Garbed in the shadows of the sculpture, we sat with Bono Stellar to understand the process of its creation and the motivation behind it.
1) What is your inspiration behind the installation?
Given the brief about the theme of the project which is our 60th Merdeka Day and the celebration of our independence, I studied the colours of our national flag and played around with that notion. I also studied our culture, our people and imagined how far we’ve come and achieved; how to represent the development that we have created something better. It’s about understanding the belief in creating a better nation.
2) Did you know what you wanted to do as soon as the #WargaNegaraKu project was proposed?
It was a quite last minute project but, I managed to send them my sketches and drafts on how we want to show the vision of Malaysia becoming a better nation throughout the years. As you can see, there’re fourteen yellow lights on the wall to signify our states as well as the climb made by our citizens. I like to balance shapes, horizontal and vertical lines; on a sunny day, you might see the shadows of these structures intersect and interlock hence; there is this theme of unity as well. The different colours of blue, red and yellow of these lines are representing our multi-cultural races. I had a few ideas on what I wanted for the installation so I studied some work by other artists in order to be stimulated like recently, I’ve been experimenting with infinity mirrors so there is progress in my art.
3) Why are some parts of the structure a bit irregular than the others?
This is because some of the pieces have different meanings, its composition is distinctive. The viewer must be able to take in the installation all together and not just look at one of the sides. I don’t mind that individuals will interpret the arrangements as they see it but, I think they will understand that the installation is about balance.
4) Would you mind explaining the planning in the creation of your installation?
It was intense! I was working for another installation in Johor then I had to come back and start on this project which I was given a few days to prepare and make. I had to visit the lobby first to make sure that the installation can fit and afterwards, I start with the sketches and measurements and once I finished with that; me and my team began constructing the structure on the same day. It was three days of building and fabricating the installation. Here, we can see how the constructions have similar width to the edifices of the building which is a good way for the public outside of the building to see the installation as this can educate the people about visual art in an easily accessible manner.
5) As a Malaysian, how do you feel about the country being independent for almost a century?
We often feel that we haven’t reached our full potential but, I guess it’s the same with citizens of other countries. It’s good that we have evolved especially when it comes to art because there is the majority that appeal to these kinds of things (art exhibitions, galleries etc). My hope for the future is that we are more open to allow people to be themselves and do what they want.
Bono Stellar believes that we should not conform to normality and to also be independent ourselves and not depend in the country’s accomplishments at maintaining liberation. The society should be the last group in our mind that we would want to satisfy and we should be able to be indifferent to strangers’ expectations especially when it comes to emerging as an artist. The installation of clashing yet complimenting lines, circles, plastic and metal seems more of a movement of ideas than an immobile structure as it carries the idea of Malaysia’s independence, the people’s past as well as the promise of the future of another 60 or more years as a state.