2 days ago i attended my friend's artist talk, Sharon is one of the local artist that has been around for ages, our paths crossed each other many times in some local art events and art bazaar (Artforgrabs) plenty of times. She shared her experience about her latest work 'Weed' that was exhibited at the Asia Pacific Trennials in Perth. I remember before she went there she bought some of my stuff, patches, bags, badges. As usual i am touched by her gesture supporting another struggling artist or for me, or a full time freelancer who nonstop looking out for jobs that requires drawing and illustrations (which this year coming to a halt because of the bad economy). I have so many questions like the process of applying for artist residency, some lubang to apply (which she shared with me quite a few), how to write proposal hehe, and most importantly i learn from her talk is how she dismissed some offers by magazines/corporations and instead offering them with a similar artist who's struggling and also her idea 'power of suggestion' to other people about other fellow artist or simply talk about the artist work to others. Totally inspired. Personally i'm not here nor there, not in artist circle, not really in NGO,just volunteering here and there, and quit advertising long ago, not also in d.i.y. punk scene maybe just one toe inside the circle since i'm working closely with friends who's doing the printing, silkscreening. So its a bit complicated since i'm more and more drifting out of these few circles.
During the talk also we're discussing about the language used like some prefer fully in Bahasa and some in Manglish or English and mixed. My thought about it was, aha! i've been thinking about it since my observation within from the trans community or living in our society. It goes back to our country system. Since the British era, how the country was formed and its system and we're part of the evolution of that system living inside it, how we are divided and fragmented further not by race, religion, class but also language. Each race have their own social construct and traditions / identity and language is part of it and we rather be in that comfort zone and also 'enabling environment'. This word became clear recently from a few community workshop and i question myself everyday why i'm eager to learn English and my other Malay friends not so. It goes back to my childhood where i try to be like my higher educated cousins who's in their environment/household is more competitive to each other and i try to mimic them to becoming like them, reading as many English storybooks that they read. And i was in a mix school, where most of my Chinese & Indian classmates all very enthusiastically learning English. On my mom side on the other hand are from poor middle to lower class who's not using English language in their daily lives and consume more Bahasa media newspapers and TV channels. In Malay community also there are gesture like if someone is using English they will be look down upon for even trying to use English like sarcastically being told off wah 'speaking now' or 'Please lah dont use English if your grammar all lintang pukang'and i found out even the person saying that their English is the same as terrible and it seems like i might as well pull someone with me down while i'm drowning, sort of thing. So yeah its the social construct and also the enabling environment of the person that make the person more open to learn learn and use other language.
When i came to KL for the first time to study (1995) My spoken English was as terrible in Manglish standard. In college i have lots of Chinese friends but mostly use Manglish as well, then i got a job in advertising and use it daily for 5 years with my white foreigner boss as well i guess that process made me using it easier like learning riding a bicycle. After 5 years its easier to speak without even thinking about it (but my grammar is as terrible actually, like in this writing). And also sadly in this country yes, we are divided further (Race, religion, class, language, interests, etc) and within a community we're fragmented further by experience, geography, etc. within my community, some of my friends who's seldom use English in their daily lives, i share my thoughts with them to learn it and use it even if your peers trying to mock you, because nowadays it is the language of opportunity even if you're sex worker/escort, you can communicate and talk about culture and sharing experience with clients/customers.
Personally i love mangas and anime = Japanese culture (their main imports ^_^) so i quit working my full time in advertising and took Japanese class and with the little interests i manage to use it and make Japanese friends and learn more about their culture and while i got the opportunity to live there for a short time i analysed further what makes a culture and its identity including Philippines as well. So yeah, to go back that's Malaysia. Truly Asia, divided by race, religion, class, interests but also language. 'Social construct' and 'enabling environment' is important to study and get to know our backstory and identity of our fragmented reality.