KuehLapis is an autobiographical project inspired by the Nyonya ‘kueh lapis’ which my Chinese-Indonesian Por Por used to make. The kueh reminds me of her as her version was unique – its nine layers were pink and a deep green. The colourful kueh also takes me back to the gatherings and celebrations, with family and close friends in my younger days in Malaysia – where the sense of home and belonging felt deep and held.
The project was seeded in 2020 at a time when I was struggling with major changes in my physicality as a woman and a performer and more recently, affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. How do I make sense of what is going on in this middle aged perimenopausal body that is constantly changing? How do I process this loss/shift of identity?
As a migrant living in Australia, the sense of alone-ness I was feeling was compounded by the lack of opportunity to talk about this inevitable phase of a woman’s life, or find useful information. The project offered a way to find language by exploring my sensory based memory through dance and art making.
KuehLapis is inspired by the layers of the familiar kueh lapis, as a sweet yet distant bridge to my roots in Malaysia. Like a child peeling and eating each layer of the kueh lapis, I grapple with this stage of my life, in digestible segments.
KuehLapis Part 3
This residency brings me back to my hometown, Petaling Jaya, after living in Australia for 29 years. Catching up with friends here, my view on family and belonging is expanding beyond blood relations. I am recollecting memories triggered by this warm sense of connection with my chosen family, my old friends – people that have been a part of my history in this place.
I am working with musician and creative collaborator Ria Soemardjo from Australia and artist, Chuah Chong Yong from Kuala Lumpur, dramaturg Vanessa Chapple (AUS) and producer Eelin Cheah (AUS) to reimagine temu house as a sanctuary for reconnection. This is the third part of an ongoing creative project, which grew out of my experience of feeling isolated and disconnected.
You are invited to experience the processes firsthand in an open studio environment and are welcome to view and interact with the evolving artworks and engage with the artists. The informal sessions will end with kueh and tea, and if you are comfortable to do so, please share your stories and memories.
The KuehLapis residency at temu will culminate in a live 30-minute showing to audiences at the end of the final week at 8pm, Wednesday 2nd August 2023.
KuehLapis is the pilot project to the Artist Residency Program for temu house, which seeks out artist-led projects in response to the art space and its surroundings.
Acknowledgements I would like to thank these amazing individuals who have supported KuehLapis Part 3:
To my collaborators
Musician & Creative Collaborator – Ria Soemardjo
Artist – Chuah Chong Yong
Dramaturg – Vanessa Chapple
Producer – Eelin Cheah
Lina Tan, Lillian Tay, Sharmin Parameswaran, Viv Adram and the extended team at temu house.
Australia Council for the Arts
NECCHi Neighbourhood House
Siah Ping Wong, Su Lin Cheah, Aunty Cheah, Aida Mastura, Rosalind Ho, Rithaudin Abdul Kadir, Adrian Chow and the team at Huak Huak.
Janette Hoe’s KuehLapis is the pilot Artist Residency Program for temu house, which seeks out artist-led projects in response to the art space and its surroundings.
A creative development by Janette Hoe (AUS)
In collaboration with Ria Soemardjo (AUS) and Chuah Chong Yong (MY)
22nd July - 2nd August 2022 @ temu house
Open Studio & Meet-the-Artists sessions:
11.00am - 1.00pm / 2.30pm - 4.30pm
Saturday 22 July / 29 July
Sunday 23 July / 30 July
Note: temu house will be open regular hours from 10:00am - 5:00pm
End of creative development Show
8.00pm 2 August
Note: This is a free event
KuehLapis project artists
Janette Hoe, Dance Artist
Janette Hoe is a Melbourne-based dance artist and designer working across embodied movement, gestural mark-making and photomontage. Her performance practice is deeply influenced by the dance-theatre artform of Butoh, and a sensorial approach informed by Eastern and Western somatic, movement-based improvisation modalities.
Identifying strongly with her hybrid Malaysian-born, Chinese-Indonesian heritage and shaped by personal stories of migration, her works explore the liminal space of shifting identities and multiple belongings. Usually presented in non-theatre spaces, her performances invite audiences into visually evocative performance worlds where fragments of memory, lived experiences and imagination meet.
Celebrating cultural diversity and shared knowledge through collaborative exchanges, Janette has over 27 years’ experience in creating solo performances and collaborative works with artists and designers from various artforms, across cultures throughout Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
Janette has an ongoing practice with long-time collaborator, musician Ria Soemardjo in various projects including The Echoes Project. Commissioned by Mapping Melbourne Festival, they created two participatory events which took audiences on a journey through Melbourne’s Chinatown (2017) and the Mission to Seafarer’s historic site (2018).
Dance Australia Critics Survey nominated Janette ‘Dancer to Watch’ for her full length works No Candles Please (2006) and moths are calling (2014). Granted an Australian Postgraduate Award, Janette completed a practice-led Masters by Research project in 2016 at The University of Melbourne (Faculty of VCA and MCM). The research investigates embodied histories, triggered by place, in dance improvisation.
Ria Soemardjo, Musician / Sound Artist
Ria Soemardjo is a Melbourne based musician with a passion for collaborating with artists across diverse range of genres and artforms. Born in Melbourne, her distinct, haunting vocals and instrumental compositions reflect her Australian/Indonesian cultural heritage. Over the last 10 years, Ria has created and performed music for a wide range of award winning independent contemporary dance, theatre and mixed media projects in Australia and Asia. Ria’s collaborations with dance artist, Janette Hoe, including ‘moths are calling’ and ‘The Echoes Project’, reflect her interest in engaging audiences in powerful contemporary performance/rituals, in response to urban sites. In recent projects, Ria draws on her training in fine arts, creating small sound sculptures and unique ceramic flutes and drums.
Chong Yong Chuah, Artist / Art Installation Consultant
Chong Yong Chuah (b. 1972) is a contemporary Malaysian artist, a graduate from the Malaysian Institute of Art, majoring in painting and exploring different art forms in his work, including painting, installation art, site-specific and time base/ephemeral artworks.
As an artist, Chong Yong has participated in exhibitions and art symposiums locally and abroad, including invitations to group exhibitions at the 2nd Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale, Japan (2002), Asean Artist Creative Interaction in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, International Meeting Between Autonomous Cultural Centers Forum in Shanghai (2004) and has had solo exhibitions including Storeys at Valentine Willie Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur (2003).
As a self-proclaimed ‘artist-cum-heritage-advocate’, Chong Yong is one of the founding members of Rumah Air Panas (R.A.P), an artist collective based in Kuala Lumpur. The collective aims to bring together visual art and other cultural art disciplines by providing opportunities for artistic collaborations through artist talks and forums including exhibitions.
His works as a creative consultant, a lead installation artist and/or as a designer of theatre sets and installations, has been seen in numerous stage productions of established and award-winning Malaysian performing arts companies such as Five Arts Center, Instant Café Theatre, Dan Dan Theater and Butoh company Nyoba Kan. In 1994 – 1996, Chong Yong practised and performed Butoh with Taro Dance Theatre, Malaysia’s pioneering Butoh company.
Today, Chong Yong continues to be a prolific artist when not managing his commercial art studio, Huak Huak Sdn. Bhd. (Huak Huak Pty. Ltd.).
Arts and Culture Community Participation Consultant
Vanessa Chapple is a highly regarded theatre director/dramaturg, artist and Embodied Voice teacher who works across performing arts disciplines. She has a passion for working with community and her
experience conceiving and implementing participatory performing arts, visual arts and music projects with people of Australia is extensive. Her practice is strongly collaborative and inclusive, and in her role as mentor/consultant she draws upon experience in diverse community projects and her work as an educator in tertiary settings. She has been lead artist/director on projects in organizations/companies including: Arts Access, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Moreland City Council, Weave Movement Theatre, Womens’ Circus, Whittlesea Council, Arts Centre Melbourne, Newport Lakes Primary School, ArtPlay, VicHealth, Brimbank Council, CERES Environment Park, Melbourne Fringe Festival, The Village, Alpine Shire, YMCA, Footscray Community Arts Centre, Institute of Koorie Education (Deakin University), Melbourne Playback Theatre, Victorian Institute of the DEAF, Multicultural Arts Victoria, Inner South Community Health Centre, Circus OZ.
Vanessa is a feminist activist and much of her directorial work has centred upon the telling of womens’ stories. In 2022 she produced the film Giving Voice to Menopause with collective She Listens (www.shelistens.community), and has secured funding from Victorian Women’s Trust for inclusion in Menstrual education programs, WorkCycle to be rolled out in the Australian workforce. She is a mother of 2 children and is based in Naarm (Melbourne). She was president of the Australian Women Directors Alliance (AWDA) for three years (2018 – 2021) and is a board member of Community Music Victoria (CMVic).
Qualifications include BA (Hons) Psychology, Post-Graduate Certificate Voice Studies, Graduate Diploma Movement and Dance and graduate of The John Bolton Theatre School. Vanessa is a current PhD candidate at the Creative Agency Lab, School of Education, RMIT undertaking research in somatics and ecologies of listening within socially-engaged art practice. She is undertaking Somatic Movement Educator Practitioner Certification (BMC®) with Somatic Movement Education Australasia.
Yumi Umiumare Dancer / Choreographer
Born in Hyogo, Japan, Yumi is an established Butoh dancer/choreographer living in Australia. Yumi has been creating her distinctive style of works for 30 years and her works are renowned for provoking visceral emotions and cultural identities. After touring with the seminal Butoh company DaiRakudakan, Yumi moved to Melbourne in 1993 and her works have been seen in numerous festivals in dance, theatre and film productions throughout Australia, Japan, Europe, New Zealand, South East Asia and South America, and have received critical acclaim and garnered several Australian Green Room awards. Her own major production’s credits include DasSHOKU Butoh cabaret series (1999-2014), EnTrance (2009-2012) and PopUp Tearoom series and now creating new show DasSHOKU TeaParTEA! As an independent artist, she has collaborated with various artists from diverse cultures and genres and worked with companies such as Finucane and Smith, BighART, Marrugeku, Back to Back Theatre, and most recently with The Rabble.
As a choreographer, Yumi has worked with many socially engaged theatre projects in Australia with Aboriginal communities, refugee communities, culturally diverse people and inclusive dance and theatre companies, most recently Weave Movement Theatre. She was one of the commissioned choreographers for the national dance festival of Japan Contemporary Dance Network (JCDN) in 2016, also for Lucy Guerin Inc. creating a short work in 2017.
Yumi is a key figure of the international contemporary Butoh scene, and was invited to the International Butoh Festival in Germany (2015) and Butoh Diaspora as a part of the Tokyo Olympics (2021). Yumi is a recipient of the fellowship from Australian Council (2015-16) and a winner of the Green Room Awards of Geoffrey Milne Memorial Award for her outstanding contribution to ‘Contemporary and Experimental Performance’ in 2017.
Yumi is the Artistic Director of ButohOUT! Festival in Melbourne and teaches nationally and internationally.
Mindy Meng Wang Musician
Mindy Meng Wang is a versatile Chinese/Australian Composer, Guzheng Performing Artist and producer. Her cross-cultural life and professional experience influence her music and creates an interesting and unique style that combines east and west, modern and traditional. Mindy is bold and
innovative and her practice crosses different arts forms and disciplines. She excels in experimental, and improvisation and her long-term vision is to create a deeper and reciprocal connection between Australia and China through the arts.
Classically trained, Mindy started performing at an early age of ten, receiving numerous awards in Guzheng competitions in China. She holds an honours music degree from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (UK) and was awarded “Hull Sinfonietta’s Young International Artist of the Year” in 2008.
In the UK, Mindy has collaborated with many high-profile artists including a residency at the O2 Arena with Gorillaz and has performed at the Tate Modern and significant festivals across the UK. Mindy was also selected into the world-renowned Silk String Quartet, where she performed with the quartet and as a solo performer in Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and France.
In Australia, Mindy has collaborated with organisations including the Australian Arts Orchestra, Melbourne Recital Centre, Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, Arts Centre Melbourne, Malthouse, ANAM, Shanghai Theatre. Mindy has performed in major festivals across Australia including Mona Foma, Dark Mofo, OzAsia, AsiaTOPA, Mapping Melbourne Festival, Australian Open, Art Music Awards, Premier’s Gala Dinner etc. Last year she was commissioned by Shanghai International Arts Festival and funded by Australian Council of the Arts and Music Victoria to compose the Silk Road Project.
Mindy has collaborated with dance artist Janette Hoe’s in the sold-out Melbourne season of What Happened in Shanghai (AsiaTOPA 2020), in which their duet was highly regarded as a
highlight moment in the work.
Kang Wei Tan Cinematographer
Kang Wei Tan is a Singapore-nurtured, Melbourne-based cinematographer whose work focuses on the way our cultural narratives shape and mould the personal relationships we have with the worlds around us. He is fascinated by all the daily, human rituals we live our life by — the transient, the spiritual, and the mundane — all of which form a cinematic lens that when looked through, reveals our own rich, inner human lives.
Kang Wei hopes to weave the medium of film into a shifting tapestry that blends fiction / documentary, dreaming / living, the imaginary and the real.
He has worked with a range of film directors from Singapore and internationally. Kang Wei has worked on films such as Under the Same Pink Sky (2020), Wanton Mee (2016) and Still is Time (2017), which have premiered in major film festivals including the Berlin Film Festival, San Sebastian Film Festival and Uppsala Short Film Festival.
Melbourne-based Japanese sound artist Ai Yamamoto has been composing since 2001.
Ai’s music style varies from soft melodic and shimmering abstract melodies to dark explosive tones. Her main area of interest is to create dramatic structures in the flow of music, while adding abstract textures and atmospheric sound scapes in her compositions.
Ai sources her sounds from field recordings, game sounds, and daily life in the world, manipulating these textures into a body of work influenced by soundscapes, ambient, and industrial music. Her earlier works were more experimental where Ai played with different samples by changing pitches, adding effects, and allowing these sounds to take its natural form. Some of her pieces are specifically composed to match visuals such as animations, video installations or short films.
Ai also makes video works for her music; those works have been shown as a part of Melbourne International Arts Festival (2018) and toured internationally. Many of her works have been exhibited at various galleries in Australia and around the world.
Ai has worked with a range of sound and video artists such as Lawrence English, Dan West, Yumi Umiumare, Raceless AKA Curse of Dialect, Ben Frost, Sofi Basseghi, Kaigen, Steve Law, Bita Fayyazi, Junko Azukawa, An Tuong Nguyen and have collaborated with other artists internationally.