Our vision for Malaysia
our JOURNEY from CoLOUR-BLINDNESS TO COLOUR EMBRACING
It started when a lot of negativity surfaced around Malaysia over the past couple of years. Colour-blindness (B&W) has always been the go to trend to address unity in diversity, though a great concept, we, The Rojak Projek thought of it in a different light. To us, the beauty being a multicultural Malaysia shouldn't be diluted to shades of grey because our colours is where the beauty lies!
So on the first day of 2016, we wanted to share our creative and positive perspective on how our Malaysian diversity is truly beautiful. This was done through a series of conceptual artwork featuring yummy Malaysian food of our friends with their vision for Malaysia.
"Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate. But Malaysian food takes it to the next level and we Malaysians know it! Our food has always been the gesture of peace which allows us to sit, eat and enjoy each other's company despite our differences. It is our differences that makes us unique. These artworks are about showcasing not only the beauty in variety of Malaysian food but the message that our diversity is equally beautiful."
/ Disciplines: Social Awareness
phase 1 (2015):
MESSAGE FROM THE ROJAK PROJEK:
We, The Rojak Projek wish to thank all who have participated in this initiative! Though it's hard to identify the colour of our skin through the portraits and artworks, Malaysians with all sorts of ethnic backgrounds participated in this project! Just as how Malaysia isn't complete without our diversity, these artworks wouldn't have had the same impact without every single one of you.
We hope this project has inspired Malaysians to strive for a better Malaysia that embraces each other with love, respect and positivity coming into the new year of 2016. However, let's not just stop at loving our fellow Malaysians, let's also remember to always stand up and defend the bond that we all share when tribulation comes our way.
Once again, our deepest thanks to all of you who have allowed us to use your portraits as a means to spread the message that's deep in all our hearts - iaitu 'Malaysia tak sama kalau kita tak bersama!'
Let us all stay Hungry for a Better Malaysia!
The Rojak Projek
'thank you' messages & responses from our Malaysian brothers & sisters:
you can also check out where were we featured here.
IT'S MORE THAN "FOOD ART"
"We're not all artist.
But we are learning the art to serve our country with whatever we have."
HOW DID THE IDEA COME ABOUT?
It started when a lot of negative coverage continuously resurfaced around Malaysia over the last 5 years. Malaysians used social media to rant and there seemed to be no solutions to any of the problems other than us contributing to the increasing negative remarks. A lot of us became "keyboard warriors" instead of problem solvers. Through much soul searching and brainstorming, Faye decided that something, needed to be done to reignite and showcase our Malaysian love, pride and unity.
Black and white was the trend at that time to showcase unity in diversity, but something just didn't feel right because it felt that beauty of being a multicultural Malaysia was being diluted to plain shades of grey. In fact, Malaysians should see colours because that is simply just who we are as Malaysians! We have too many beautiful colours to exhibit, it would not do Malaysians justice to be only choosing from a palette of black and white. This lead to a simple conclusion that encompassed bringing out our Malaysian love, pride and unity while embracing the colours we all have. Food, of course, was the answer. From there, the concept of The Rojak Projek was born.
Tell us more about the team for Phase 1
The team consist of different friends from various backgrounds, whether from childhood, high-school, college, work or volunteering initiatives. We are not all 'artists' or 'chefs' but we try in any way we know how to make this happen.
What is ‘Rojak’?
‘Rojak’ is a popular Malaysian savoury mixed fruit salad. The term is usually used as a local slang to mean ‘mixed’. It is often used to describe the multi-ethnic characters of Malaysian society.
In Malaysia, food is really the symbol of love when words are inadequate. It's quite a large claim but we think that it is hard to find any love sincerer than the love of Malaysians for our Malaysian food! Our food has always been the gesture of peace which allows us to sit, eat and enjoy each other's company despite our differences and it is our differences that make us unique.
What is your OTHER PERSONAL message TO THIS JOURNEY
Just like our 'Rojak', our diversity is in a whole plate of tasty that compliments each other instead of one that competes with each other! After all, it is not a plate of divided ingredients but a united dish. When you put them all together, it's just like us.
How was the technical process done?
Where we ate, mingle and took black and white portraits of our friends all over!
i) The Rojak Party
We first conducted a ‘Rojak Party’ and invited our friends and friends of friends to come over to eat, mingle and capture their B&W portrait because the trend back then was to be "colour blind". We asked them during the party, what was their favourite Malaysian food to break the ice. All of our friends were busy sharing their favorite food while also learning about each other's food and culture. All together we did three parties in 2015.
ii) Artwork Process (Behind the scenes)
This was the fun part! No one knew what we were doing behind the scenes for 2015. During the parties we told them that we’ll be making an artwork, and all we could tell them was to trust us and that it was going to be colourful - which they did. When the few of us met up, we took long hours to figure out the best practices. One of the first few artworks we worked on was Char Kuey Teow, Nasi Lemak and Roti Canai.
How long did it take TO CREATE ONE PIECE OF ARTWORK?
It varies because different types of food had different intricacies to putting it all together. When we started, it took a long time and there were other priorities like social media, videos, etc. There were many things done that took a lot of time but were equally as important as doing the artwork, for example, sourcing the food and materials, preparing the food and preparing the portraits. Towards the end, we got better at it and the process became more efficient. The entire project itself took almost a year to complete; we started in March 2015.
How did you match the food and face?
Food assignment was done dependent on what would look good on the portrait because each person had different features. It was mainly based on what type of food suited for the artwork to look good through mix and match.
What was the most challenging aspect of 'The Rojak Projek'?
Controlling ourselves from eating the food! It was hard to resist, but we know if we eat it, there goes our artwork! Another thing would be time. Time was crucial for us and not every one of us could commit fully because all of us have day jobs. It was also difficult to nail down the direction at that time because everyone had different ideas and suggestions. It was also challenging to get a good mix of races because our network wasn't wide enough so we asked friends of friends to help out. But all in all, we manage to make it work! We do give many thanks and appreciation for those who tried even if it was only for a little bit. Heart-work is important and it speaks volumes no matter what.
What was The most memorable experience?
Watching out for one another to stop each other from eating our "art palette" while doing the artwork! But then again, the collective memories of everyone just sitting around having a great time doing "heart-work" together, learning and sharing about the food we were working on and enjoying each other's company, that is the treasure to our hearts. Throw in a bit of Malaysian humour and there you have the whole atmosphere of The Rojak Projek! The food, yes, but ultimately the people, they are the subject and main act everyone's experiences.
Was ‘The Projek Rojak’ worth it?
It was worth it because it was a project that brought people together. It brought friends and thoughts together towards a common vision for our country, it gave us a voice to express ourselves positively. We didn't expect the work we did to have made such a positive impact and it was truly encouraging to see others be influenced to share and speak in their own ways with their vision for Malaysia. It was an honour and a blessing to see that there are others out there who are hungry for a better Malaysia too!
If there is one thing you’d like to change about Malaysia in the current situation, what would it be?
Ourselves – from the way we think, to the way we act. The common thing we tend to do is that we spend so much time complaining and pointing at others and yet here we are doing almost nothing to turn things around. No one is perfect but we do dream of a culture that encourages one another to be problem solvers through this journey.
What have you learnt about Malaysia & Malaysians
from doing this project?
— Rachel Lee
"I learn that what I know about my own country, Malaysia, is barely even scratching the surface of the depth of beauty and culture that she is completely filled with! I fall in love with Malaysia over and over again as we continue to discover and understand her further. I learn that Malaysians can never lose the fondness of Malaysia no matter how much they say they find no hope here. Bring up the topic of food and there you go, love, even just for that split second!"
Art Direction and Concept:
Lim Sheng Feiyan (Faye)
Logo Design by:
Designlabour (Inspired by the *brown tapau paper*)
Kopi-Writers & Social Media Postings:
Rachelle Gan, Melissa Tan & Rachel Lee Ju Wei
Jonathan Ng Hann Tung & Rachel Lee Ju Wei
Chua Vui Chuan, Ahmad Faliq Fauzi, Tabitha Xavier, Kenny Wang, Ng Wen Yi,
Belveen Singh, Wening Cheah, Jannah Sani, Rachel Lee, Alisha Jackson, Jonathan Cool and Lim Sheng Feiyan (Faye).
Lim Sheng Feiyan (Faye)
ROJAK PARTY VENUE:
Lim Sheng Feiyan (Faye) and Rachel Lee Ju Wei.
Thank you to those who attended the Rojak Party 1,2 and 3!
Thank you, Ivan Ong, Sheldon Siegar Shampson and Yvonne Goh from SIB KL (KBM Service) and
the Vennoo’s family for allowing us to take your portraits!
Thank you, Kimberly Yong & Kezia for making it happen by buying some of the kuih’s from Sabah and Sarawak!
When PHASE 1 was over, we realized that we are not close to even scratching the surface of discovering and understanding Malaysia. This led us to Phase 2…