19 Dec POSSESSED: a series of visual critiques by Ruzzeki Harris
Of the young and emerging Malaysian visual artists Artemis Art has worked with in 2016, one whom we think is not mentioned enough is Ruzzeki Harris. At the relatively young age of 32, he has been active in the Malaysian art landscape for over ten years, even before completing his Fine Art baccalaureate from UiTM Shah Alam.
We first worked with Ruzzeki earlier this year when we included him in our first exhibition in Yogyakarta, Vice Versa, listed as one of the Jogja Art Weeks events for 2016, exhibiting a piece called Nyawaku Butuh Likes (My Soul Needs Likes), a pointed critique towards individuals who seem to obsessively rely on social media presence as a means of self-validation. We see this for our own selves from time to time, as the virtual world of social media becomes more a norm to be present in, rather than the exception less than half a decade ago.
Possessed is a new series of works by Ruzzeki, based on a similar idea, which the artist produced for Artemis Art’s participation in Art Taipei 2016 last month. Using the prevalence of handheld gadgetry and the multitude of apps available for them today as a foundation, Ruzzeki trains his attention on the younger generation. Or, to be more specific, younger than the young artist. Millennials, in other words – children, teens, and the 20-somethings.
The 'Possessed' series depicts social and popular culture amongst kids and teenagers nowadays, with their obsession towards gadgetry. The gadget itself has become some sort of wizardry device that manipulate one’s mind and behavior, thus turning them into ‘modern world zombies’; unconscious, anti-social, introverted.
At some point or another, we too will likely have seen the very same behaviors portrayed in these works. Be it the aimless “hunter” on a search and capture mission pursuing virtual apparitions, the narcissist for whom any occasion is an excuse to capture a selfie, digital embellishments of the self that in effect embellish nothing, or kids glued to their handhelds oblivious to what’s going on around them.
What Ruzzeki has done is not to point out anything we don’t already know or aren’t already aware of, but rather to document behaviors we probably see all too often, to the point of taking for granted. These behaviors have pretty much become the new “normal“, so much so that we rarely bat an eye when we ourselves witness them these days.
And that’s where we feel this body of work becomes important – it is visceral visual documentation that in 2016, trend-following virality and intense gadgetry use were prevalent, impacting the younger members of society.
We’ll never know for certain what the social landscape 50 years from now will be like. But it’s all too possible that half a century from now, a curious someone might come across Ruzzeki’s Possessed series of works, providing some insights as to what kind of society existed way back in 2016. And perhaps a clue as to why society turned out the way it did. Whatever that it might be.
Note: The Possessed series is currently being shown at Artemis Art as part of Presence until December 31 2016.
Possessed is currently on exhibit at Artemis Art, as part of Presence, our current exhibition that will be up at the gallery until December 31 2016.
For enquiries about any of the artworks, please email us at [email protected]. All the artworks in the series are currently still available for sale.