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Programme Details
Dapunta Hyang: Transmission Of Knowledge

Key Words

72-13, Amnesia, Ancient History, Archive, Contemporary Visual Art, Dapunta Hyang Sri Jayanasa, Disappearing Tradition, Displacement, Forgotten Histories, Geopolitics, Knowledge Transmission and Manipulation, Magic, Mak Yong, Malay History, Migration, Mythology, Oral History, Orang Laut, Pre-Colonial History, Process, Riau Archipelago, Ships, Sojourn, Southeast Asian History, Southeast Asian Studies, Srivijayan Empire, Venice Biennale, Witness,


A 17-metre long ship traverses the hall, suspended. As if emerging from the ocean floor, it unloads hundreds of books sealed in beeswax. This is the imagined vessel steered by Dapunta Hyang Sri Jayanasa, the first Malay king of the 7th century Srivijayan Empire. Alongside, portraits of Mak Yong (ancient Malay opera) performers are featured as living witnesses to a history cast in darkness.

Zai Kuning’s synthesis of forgotten histories and disappearing traditions is “full of magic, mystery and beauty” (Karim Raslan, South China Morning Post). As the first contemporary visual artwork to ambitiously uncover and interpret ancient regional history, the vessel and its variations have been exhibited in Ota Fine Arts (Singapore, 2014), Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) (Singapore, 2014), Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay (Singapore, 2015), Art Basel Hong Kong (2015), Palais de Tokyo (Paris, 2015), and the 57th Venice Biennale (2017).

This is the homecoming of the highly acclaimed work to T:>Works, which supported Zai Kuning from as early as 2001 in his explorations of Orang Laut culture. Audience members can expect to gain fuller insights into a 20-year long journey that has taken the artist to encounter the orang laut (sea people), Mak Yong performers, and the lost world of the Malay kingdom. A performance with musician Mike Cooper will breathe life to a new film, “Chronicles of Amnesia”, that captures Zai’s extraordinary sojourn. Archaeologist John N. Miksic and art historian T. K. Sabapathy will each give a lecture on the geographical, historical, cultural, and artistic symbols that exist in Dapunta Hyang’s world.

T:>Works is proud to present this exceptional work that communicates the urgent need to resurface questions on how knowledge has been transmitted, manipulated and directed across time and space to inform us of our present realities.



12 April – 13 May 2018

Artist: Advisors: Executive Producer:
Tay Tong.
Lin Shiyun.
Production & Technical Management:
Technical Management:
Corrado Battorti, Enrico Fabris, Enrico Seno, Jed Lim, Zamier Abu Bakar.
Sound Engineer:
Shah Tahir.
Sound Recording & Mastering: Administration:
Mervyn Quek, Ong Soo Mei.
Ahmad Ezzat Alkaff.
Gallery Sitters:
Teo Swee Leng, Regina Foo, Zee Wong.
Graphic Design:
Chang Sheau Ling.
Art Assistant:
Jevon Chandra.
Mak Yong Performers' Portraiture:
Wichai Juntavaro.
Map Illustration:
Foo Kwee Horng.
Moderator (Public Lectures):
Alvin Lim Eng Hui.
Tan Ngiap Heng
, Ben Tanaka, Jevon Chandra, Tracy Chin.

Commissioned By:>

Produced or Managed By:>

Printed Matter

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Dapunta Hyang: Transmission Of Knowledge

Genre:> Archive
Contemporary Art

Year:> 2020

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