I think it is too early to decide on which project and narrative I would like to explore during my residency with Rimbun Dahan but there is definitely a strong interest to develop a piece I did in Malaysia.

Back in 2014, I participated in Melaka Performance and Art Festival (MAPFEST)- a truly great festival and I encountered a rather interesting name- Laksamana Cheng Ho. The festival which was held in St. Paul's Hill was also not distanced from the figure and after a brief google search, I found out that he was a Chinese Muslim voyager who had built a name of himself within the Malaya Peninsula- Indonesia included.

This hence, was a very captivating discovery because of the religious background of my own country. Chinese and Muslim often do not come under a person's identity although it is without any doubt, present in Indonesia. I think likewise in Malaysia, where race and religion is often being scapegoats for almost everything political- this point of entry becomes really relevant.

Secondly, the title of 'Laksamana'- which I managed to understand it as Admiral or even Fleet Admiral, was another interesting context of Cheng Ho for me personally. His title evokes a strong sense of masculinity and gender positioning of the figure which in general was- and still is a main focus in my practice.

Further scrolling of web pages led my understanding on the possibility that Cheng Ho was not simply an admiral, but also a trusted man- a eunuch. Of course this leads to his figurative being a representation of not only the subject of gender- but also power structure and on a more literal level- sexuality and sex. This is also further enhanced by the visual experience of encountering Malaysia's national flower- the hibiscus which in itself is self sustaining as each flower contains both male and female sexual organs. However of course, the flower involvement was more on the attempt to further stretch the narrative, and through a more tounge-in-cheek and playful approach.

I had many questions- how is Cheng Ho relevant as a symbol of masculinity- or to be more specific Malaya Peninsula masculinity- or even Malaysian masculinity. how is Cheng Ho a symbol of sexuality. how is Cheng Ho being perceived religiously and racially today. How is Cheng Ho contemporary.

However, my first involvement in MAPFEST 2014 was more of a discovery while the subsequent year of 2015, my visit to Cheng Ho museum (still in Melaka) was not very fruitful.

I supposed, my residency with Rimbun Dahan will provide me with the focus- both in terms of time and space that I can look and dwell deeper into this hero.

The performance that I have devised was a rather physical movement piece that is inspired by his status as a Admiral- the possibility of him excelling in sword techniques and also the idea of genital castration. The piece was rough and difficult as through fatigue I was conversing with my audience. Through this residency, I hope this work is to be challenged further and corrected- if several elements might have seemed missing or unnecessary. Additionally, I hope to come up with new visual approach to experience this interest of mine towards Cheng Ho.

I hope to be able to speak with people who consider themselves masculine in Malaysia to get their attitude towards Cheng Ho. So I will most probably be looking towards this in greater detail.

Despite so, I am excited to be in Rimbun Dahan and will come with an open mind- to see which works are necessary to be developed.