Rafi Abdullah
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Conversation with Khairullah Rahim and Ahmad Abu Bakar

Gathering of Flocks
by Khairullah Rahim

at Yavuz Gallery, Singapore

Screengrab from Yavuz Gallery’s Online Page for Gathering of Flocks

“... Gathering of Flocks
presents a new body of assemblages influenced by [Khairullah’s] daily observations of his everyday urban landscape. In this iteration, Khairullah’s neighbourhood in Singapore comes into focus. In navigating these domestic, quotidian spaces since relocating to the area in late 2018, the artist has kindled unspoken relationships and developed a new familiarity with his neighbours. In doing so, he inevitably reveals fragments of their private lives and social demographics. Commonplace objects lining the corridors of his building, including altars and potted plants, act as uncanny gatekeepers of each respective housing unit. Gathering of Flocks sees the artist play with these silhouettes through the assemblage of familiar household items such as furniture parts, laundry pegs and kitchenware. Upon closer inspection, these garish and flamboyant ‘almost-altars’ reveal an array of forms and materials that have been selectively chosen, manipulated, and reconfigured with the deliberate intention to evoke both a sense of congruence and opulence. The very act of beautifying and transforming these everyday objects also points at the strategic means in which other possibilities to thrive and flourish are carved out and made possible within the fabric of our daily lives.”
— Extract from Yavuz Gallery’s Press Release
Gathering of Flocks, Khairullah Rahim, 2020

I was extended an opportunity by Khairullah to write a short introduction excerpt and converse with the artist himself, alongside visual artist Ahmad Abu Bakar, as part of a contribution to the catalogue for the exhibition:

“... I must admit that I was wary when Khairullah first approached me to contribute to the exhibition catalogue. I hadn’t been able to share it then, but I had been ruminating on the kitsch, colloquiality, gaudy-ness, or as he puts it: the obiang and orbit. I had observed (what in my opinion is, however I have no moral authority to conclude for a matter of fact) a growing romanticism of the obiang from a perverse gaze of its visual vernacular. This, for the most part, is frequently appropriated and manifested into curated online (and even offline) personas and practices. This co-option — often employed by actors that are far removed from the consequential realities of such a vernacular — veils itself, unnoticed if one is not attentive, as an expression of counter-normativity. But somehow I was certain that Khairullah’s fondness of the obiang/orbit did not come from such a place. In our conversations, he had emanated an acute sensitivity towards that which he references and an astute awareness and careful consideration of his gaze of and position within the obiang/orbit. Our conversation was also littered with his sincerity, whether in his unfettered admissions of his genuine love for the quirks, eccentricity and ‘extra-ness’ of Bollywood; or his adoration of the unadulterated beauty of commonplace objects that he encounters in his locale...”

Read the full text and transcription here.