15 May COVID Surreality
The world over has pretty much come to a standstill due to COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the very infectious MERS-2-CoV virus. It has disrupted our daily lives, and in many countries, citizens are in various levels of lockdown, housebound except to go out for necessary supplies or for medical treatment under strict movement control in many locations including in Malaysia. But art goes on, and for Denmark-based multidisciplinary visual artist Amir Zainorin, the circumstance the world finds itself in has given him the impetus to create. COVID Surreality is a series of “performances” by Amir, captured on as still images, a lighter side of life in lockdown. Despite the grimness of COVID-19, Amir soldiers on with art, and created this series of works in the belief that everyone needs some respite, and that laughter is indeed the best medicine.
Update (May 22, 2020): We have added another six photowork images, making it a total of forty two photoworks for the exhibition. Our webstore has also been updated with these six new works.
COVID Surreality is viewable in two modes, as a slideshow, and as thumbnails (further down this page where you can individually select works to view).
Update (May 22, 2020): We have just launched the Virtual Exhibition Tour for COVID Surreality, hosted on the Artsteps platform, similar to what we did with MONOCHROME. All the works included in the exhibition (including the six new ones) have been designed into the virtual exhibition. Click on the Virtual Exhibition Space tab above for details.
Each of the stills in the series are available as limited prints, in editions of seven (7). Click on the Purchase Prints tab for details. A portion of sales proceeds will be donated to charity.
A Little Bit to the Left …
After Goya: 3rd of May
Dance with Me
Don't Really Know What to Make of This...
Get Up… Get On Up
I Don't Have a Life
I Think Therefore I Am
I Want to Meet Real Artist
The Critic, Painter and Salt Grinder
Swing A Little High, Swing A Little Low
What's Cooking, Doc?
Self-Portrait with Ananas
Self-Portrait with Globe
Self-Portrait with Kuali
Self-Portrait with Luggage Bag
Self-Portrait with Takraw
Self-Portrait Series: The Self Within
Home Sweet Home
Nothing Lasts Forever
3 Olympians (after John Dominis)
To view in Full Screen mode, double-click any slideshow image (press the Esc key to return to normal view). Use the Left/Right arrow to manually advance or reverse slideshow. In normal view, use the control bar located below the slideshow to run/pause, or hover mouse over the circles to view thumbnails. Unless paused, each image will show for approximately 5 seconds. In Full Screen mode, slides will automatically advance, but you may use the on-screen Left/Right arrows to advance or reverse manually.
Pricing for Prints
All the photo-works included in COVID Surreality are available for purchase as limited edition prints. Pricing is based on edition, and the print editions available are subject to prior sales. Refer to the pricing table below for pricing details. To purchase online, hover over any of the works listed below, then click on Select Options.
Edition 1USD 650
Editions 2 to 6USD 750
Edition 7USD 900
3 Olympians (after John Dominis)$ 650
A Little Bit to the Left …$ 650
After Goya: 3rd of May$ 650
Animal House$ 650
Anonymous Meeting$ 650
Dance with Me$ 650
Dart Time$ 650
Don’t Really Know What to Make of This…$ 650
Get Up… Get On Up$ 650
Home Sweet Home$ 650
I Don’t Have a Life$ 650
I Inhale$ 650
I Think Therefore I Am$ 650
I Want to Meet Real Artist$ 650
Ketuk Ketampi$ 650
Nothing Lasts Forever$ 650
Power Nap$ 650
Self-Portrait Series: The Self Within$ 650
Self-Portrait with Ananas$ 650
Self-Portrait with Globe$ 650
Self-Portrait with Kuali$ 650
Self-Portrait with Luggage Bag$ 650
Self-Portrait with Takraw$ 650
Swing A Little High, Swing A Little Low$ 650
The Cleaners$ 650
The Critic, Painter and Salt Grinder$ 650
The Opera$ 650
The Walk$ 650
Uno, Anyone?$ 750
What’s Cooking, Doc?$ 650
Who’s Who?$ 650
Virtual Exhibition Tour
The virtual exhibition is best viewed on a desktop browser (Chrome seems to work best) or via the Artsteps mobile app, available for Android and IOS. For mobile app users, do a search for COVID Surreality (under Latest grouping) to find the virtual exhibition. A guided tour has been built into the exhibition, but you may also opt to manually traverse the virtual exhibition space.
For those unable to access the the virtual exhibition, we have produced a video walkthrough you can watch below.
COVID Surreality Virtual Walkthrough
artist statement by Amir Zainorin
I was inspired to do this series of photo works when the Malaysian National Art Gallery uploaded my artwork ‘Read’ onto their social media to share some of their collection to the public.
‘Read’ is an artwork that I did in 2006 and was exhibited in a two-person exhibition at Alstrup Gallery in Denmark and then at Pelita Hati Gallery in KL for my first solo exhibition in my home country Malaysia.
It is a collage work done from posters given to me by friends and some that I had collected from my trips to the libraries in Copenhagen. I used an image from a magazine to make the artwork which shows a picture of three men reading books. Using readymade images is something I adopted when I met the late Jeri Azhari in 1995. He inspired me to paint and later on became my mentor and close friend.
When I chanced upon the National Art Gallery’s Instagram post on 3rd April 2020, the world was in a chaotic state with the unexpected Corona virus pandemic that has infected over three million people and killed hundreds of thousands.
Right after I saw the post, there was this sudden impulse and idea to make something similar to that, and I thought the best medium to do it was photography. With my iPhone and half broken tripod, I started to experiment taking pictures of myself at home. It was pretty natural, as we are all advised to stay home during the lockdown.
The first work I did was a recreation of ‘Read’. Being a ‘model’ of myself is an expression of irony. The second work, which I called ‘Uno Anyone?’, gave a big smile on my face.
Humor has been an important element in my artworks simply because it works as a therapy for my soul. At a time when we are veiled in darkness and faced with an uncertain future, anything that we can do to uplift the human spirit is certainly needed and welcome.
I have been posting works from this series on my Facebook and Instagram pages, and it is such joy to make them when I receive such positive responses and a few laughing emojis on my posts, especially at times like this. Living as a Malaysian in diaspora in Copenhagen, this series of work somehow helped keep me connected with my friends and family and revived old friendships – and ex-girlfriends 😊.
But then, when you think about it, it doesn’t matter where you are in the world because with the lockdown, distance is irrelevant, and we had better get used to it. Perhaps the best way to stay in touch with someone in this changing world is through social media, but it only works for those who have access to it.
Who knows what’s going to happen in the future? But what’s certain is we have to learn to quickly adapt to our new surroundings and circumstances.
Amir Zainorin is a visual artist born in Johor, Malaysia. He is currently based in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he’s been since 2002. He studied Business Studies at Polytechnic Ungku Omar Ipoh in 1980, and after graduating worked as a bank officer at Agro Bank in Kuala Lumpur. After a couple of years he went on to further his studies at University of Conway, Arkansas in 1986, and later moved to University of Missouri, Kansas City, USA in 1988.
Upon returning to Malaysia in 1991, Amir started working in different jobs before ending up in the advertising industry working as an account executive. He quit his job in 1995, and in the same year he met the late pop artist Jeri Azhari in Kuala Lumpur, who inspired Amir to start painting, and who would go on to become a close friend and mentor.
Amir left KL in 1998 and went to live on Perhentian Island, off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. He returned in 2000 and became a resident artist at Jaguar Motors Studio in Kuala Lumpur.
In 2002 he met his future wife Pia Poulsen from Denmark who was, at the time, studying Indonesian language at University of Gajah Mada, Yogyakarta. Shortly after, they moved to Copenhagen, where Amir has been residing since.
Amir Zainorin is a multi-disciplinary artist and his art projects are often interactive and participative, working with performance, installation, video and painting. His art engages themes of memory, migration, and identity, often in collaborations with other artists.
He has exhibited, among others, at KL Biennale, National Art Gallery Malaysia; Museum of Contemporary Art, Roskilde, Denmark; Overgaden Institute of Contemporary Art, Copenhagen; Immigrant Museum, Farum, Denmark; National Art Gallery Singapore; and Museu Historico Nacional, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Amir is the founder of interdisciplinary artist collective Jambatan, a Malay word that translates to ‘Bridge’. Jambatan is based in Copenhagen, comprising artists, curators and academics in response to an urgent need of a community for art and of Southeast Asians in the Nordic region.