Gallery > Support Images

Abdul-Rahman Abdullah

Abdul-Rahman Abdullah | 2016 | 80 x 85 x 490cm | painted wood, bronze
AGSA collection

Exhibition history

Diaspora Pavilion 2 - I am a beating heart in the world
Campbelltown Art Centre NSW 2021
Curated by Dr Mikala Tai

Magic Object - Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art
Art Gallery of South Australia 2016
Curated by Lisa Slade

This work was developed in response to a research trip to South Sulawesi and Malaysia to explore my Bugis heritage. My ancestors left South Sulawesi in 1664 to create a new lineage in the Malay peninsula. My research enabled me to trace back eighteen generations of my family to the early 1500’s in Luwu Kingdom, one of the earliest Bugis kingdoms in South Sulawesi. The work is titled Merantau, a malay term meaning to travel, seeking adventure or fortune. I wanted to place myself within the idea of Merantau, the drive to create something new, somewhere new. I wanted to fold myself into a story that could take place any time in the past few hundred years. The canoe is directly referenced from a meranti dugout that I found in Astana Raja, a town near my mums home village of Kampung Linggi in Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. The canoe is an Orang Asli design, the indigenous people of the Malay peninsula who provided most of the original small river craft that were essential for travelling through the dense forests of Malaysia. The rooster is an Ayam Ketawa (Laughing Chicken), a prized breed originating in South Sulawesi. The stories of my ancestors always focus on the most illustrious, the noble lineages, the conflicts and politics that defined the creation of new communities in the Malay peninsula emerging from the Bugis migrations from South Sulawesi. Within those histories are countless decisions made by individual people, accreted over the centuries as an integral chapter of South East Asian history. I wanted to focus on the idea of seeking something new, taking a singular point of view in a larger story of trepidatious exploration, the vulnerability of a person staking a claim in disputed territory. The rooster has always been emblematic of bravery and pride in South Sulawesi and Malaysia, I wanted to speak to those elements as well as suggesting that this person is here to put down roots. The rooster becomes a signifier of wilful domestication, a desire to establish a new home.