19 feet Todak (Garfish)

A 19 feet long batik painting done for my 1st summative assessment.
Todak: Fallacy of folklore
M. Kamal Dollah, 2006
580 x 82cm, Batik on cotton
Artist Statement:
Kamal questions the role of folklore in conditioning the mind-set of a community. The scale of this Batik painting comments on the overbearing confines infiltrating our mind from young and perhaps entrapping us with misbelief in adulthood.
‘Singapura dilanggar todak’ – Singapore swarmed by garfish (often misrepresented as swordfish) is a Malay folklore. As the title suggests, it is uniquely local. It is unlike most other Malay legends that are usually adaptation of stories from other cultures.[1] Briefly, it is a story about a simple boy who suggested a solution to overcoming a catastrophe. He was sentenced to death for fear that he may grow up to be smarter than the king.
Without consideration for its negative overtone this story is told in many variations, even one that account the boy’s blood stained a hill – suggesting how ‘Redhill’ got its name.
The work invites viewer to reflect on how cultural conditioning influences  perception.
[1] Dr. Liaw Yock Fang, ‘Sastera warisan’ articles in Berita Harian on Tuesdays; Ekstra, Selasa Warisan i.e. 19th December 2006.

4 thoughts on “19 feet Todak (Garfish)

  1. Utterly wicked!
    Yes I did choose the bloodiest shade of red colour dye I could find. I had something bloody in mind, but you put it together so well in words.
    Thanks Bro.

  2. … I can’t help but see the garfish swimming in blood red, in the magnificent batik piece you did. It seems to be swimming in the blood of the child whom died to justice dressed in shame. And if you hang it above our heads and across the skies.. would then the skies be red, and upon the earth where we walk ..the rays of the sun can only managed a dark shade of crimson red…like of the kid’s blood across the floor?
    .. cool.

  3. Looks great! I didnt see it when I was at Substation. Either you have not put it up yet or I did not look up! 🙂
    Keep your focus on the Malay folklore thingy. You may have something going there.
    Focus focus focus not hocus pocus!!

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