How did we get here? Where are we now? Where are we going? With these questions, Dia Guild hopes to interrogate power structures largely shaped by the West, and spawn new narratives tied to roots and identities in Southeast Asia.
On March 2, Dia launched Recrafting Stories: A Decolonial Pursuit, the first of a three-part exhibition to honour the “decolonial journeys” of artists and designers from the region, in the context of craft-artisanship, music and literature.
“We tell stories all the time and different forces — social, socio-economical and algorithmical — determine which ones endure or affect other stories to come. This event explores how we craft narratives in the face of these forces, and in the pursuit of decolonialism in particular,” says Aisha Hassan, who founded the guild in 2020 with friends Kylis Francis and Alia Farouk.
The online platform showcases independent Southeast Asian brands and artisans. Designers involved in the exhibition include Neil Felipp from the Philippines (whose bags were featured in Crazy Rich Asians), Garden of Desire (Cambodia), Argent Studio (Indonesia) and Sabah-based Talee Studio, which creates accessories inspired by nautical knots.
A collaboration with Small Shifting Space, the show seeks to rediscover knowledge or culture, including traditional craft skills, and personal stories that have been pushed aside. It runs until March 20 and each week, events will change in relation to the question posed.
“How Did We Get Here?” (March 2 to 6) explored aspects of Southeast Asian culture and heritage craft that have been misappropriated, or deserve to be better-known.
“Where Are We Now?” (March 9 to 13) focused on Southeast Asian creators on the world stage and forces that contributed to this. A ticketed event titled “Roots” will be held on March 4 (9pm to 10.30pm), and the exhibition will close with “Where Are We Going?” (March 16 to 20), which emphasises being conscious of artisanship in the region and acknowledging the past and crafts in an equitable future.
Small Shifting Space is at 141 Jalan Petaling and admission to 'Recrafting Stories'. Until Mar 20. Free admission. For more, see here.