The Weekly’s Great Women of Our Time Awards is an annual initiative to shine the spotlight on ordinary Malaysian women, doing extraordinary things. Vote for your favourite and you might just win a prize!
By The Weekly | November 16, 2015
As one of the most eagerly watched art curators in the country, Sharmin Parameswaran has been hailed for staging exhibitions that encourage discourse, in addition to supporting local artists. “To me, art is about asking the questions, narrating the stories and collaborating to make realities,” she says. “Whenever I start to think up a curatorial concept for an exhibition, I ask myself, ‘What is the audience’s takeaway?’.”
Sharmin’s foundation in the arts was laid 29 years ago when her father started collecting art. Countless hours spent at galleries and artists’ homes gave her a good grounding in the arts while subsequent stints in various multinationals helped her to recognise the importance of audience engagement and artistic collaboration in fostering a nation’s artistic development.
The warm and positive reception to her first exhibition, At First Glance, encouraged Sharmin to set up Interpr8 Art Space with her father in 2012, showcasing the work of contemporary and upcoming local artists. In a short time, the gallery has managed to capture the public’s imagination with groundbreaking work, including Art in Search of Words (part of #Word: The Cooler Lumpur Festival), where audience feedback formed part of the exhibition as a way to demonstrate the discourse that can happen between artists and their audience.
What makes Sharmin’s exhibitions exciting is that they draw from relatable everyday elements, combine genres, contain strong messages and feature surprising collaborators. Person(a) – a collaboration with Vignes Balasingam, founder of the critically acclaimed Obscura Photo Festival – was a photo exhibition that turned the cultural phenomenon of selfies into an introspective exploration of self.
In 2014, she worked with women’s rights group All Women’s Action Society to stage The Good Malaysian Woman: Ethnicity, Religion, Politics, highlighting how female stereotypes affect women’s sense of self, community and nationality.
Sharmin’s vibrant and go-getter nature made many of these unusual collaborations possible. Moving ahead, she says it is her hope that more inter-disciplinary collaborations will take place in the arts scene. “The arts do not exist in silos,” says Sharmin. “For a thriving arts scene to exist, we must reach out across disciplines to work together.”
Text: Alexandra Wong / Art Direction: Sabrina Salehuddin/ Photo: Kim Mun, Hopscotch Photography
Vote for Sharmin Parameswaran with the code G09
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(E.g MWW GWOT DIANE LEE 800202145222 G09 [email protected]).
Closing date: December 1 (23:59) 2015.
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