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Okui Lala

b. 1991, Penang, Malaysia
Lives and works in Penang and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

National Language Class: Our Language Proficiency, 2019

3-channel video and stereo sound
Duration 50:00 mins
Collection of the Artist
Singapore Biennale 2019 commission

Okui Lala’s practice often takes an autobiographical approach to explore themes that extend into the larger social, cultural and political milieu. Presented as a three-channel video installation, National Language Class: Our Language Proficiency simulates a classroom setting of a discussion amongst six people in different languages. Drawing upon research on education proposals in the 1950s, it captures the complexity and levity of multilingual conditions across different generations through the development of language policy planning in Malaysia. The work contemplates how vernacular and colonial languages continue to exist in friction with Malaysia’s national language and the consequences of policy from classroom to real world.


Images courtesy of the Artist

Okui Lala (Chew Wen Chin) (b. 1991, Penang, Malaysia) often employs an autobiographical approach in her practice which spans photography, video, performance and public engagement. Her work explores themes of diaspora, home and belonging through the performances of domestic acts or vocational labour, such as sewing, cooking, conversing and building. Recent presentations include shows at Yamaguchi Art Centre for Arts and Media (Japan, 2019), Para Site (Hong Kong, 2018), National Art Gallery (Malaysia, 2017) and Saitama Triennale (Japan, 2016), amongst others. Okui was a recipient of the 2017 Japan Foundation Asia Centre Fellowship Grant for her research on migration, mobilities and identities in Myanmar and Japan. She lives and works in Penang and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.