Fyerool Darma

(featuring Maggot, Mohamad Alkatiri and vvin$ton r£d for kribo records)

Stairway to heaven (2018–2019)

Sound installation with artist textile

Image courtesy of the artist

Stairway to heaven is a tongue-in-cheek critique of  the commodification of ‘other’ cultures as monstrous through the genre of exploitation horror films. Music draws the viewer up a staircase, to a display of textiles that the artist is selling through his website.

The print on the scarf is based on the orang minyak curse used by the protagonist in the Hong Kong film Oily Maniac (1976) to turn himself into a superhero. Through this appropriation, Fyerool mirrors the cultural appropriation of horror films that adapt folklore to exoticise Southeast Asia as a land of black magic and monsters. The soundtrack of the installation in particular is an amalgamation of soundtracks from Oily Maniac (1976) and other popular B-horror films such as Mystics in Bali (1981) and Pusaka Pontianak (1965), a Malay horror film which included the pop song “Rhythm of the Pontianak.

Fyerool’s installation is not a dogmatic statement on the complexity of our desire to ‘consume’ low-brow horror films. Rather, Fyerool appropriates and reframes this form of cultural consumption through the exhibition to illustrate the fundamental mechanics of the materialistic desire. A materialistic desire that makes horror films among the most profitable of film genres, and ‘art’ a valuable commodity.

Fyerool Darma (b. 1987, Singapore) makes artefacts. Through playing with the privileged status of display, his practice interrogates and complicates the cultural consumption of history and myth in relation to contemporary markers of identity and class. His artefacts are based on an extensive visual vocabulary drawn from popular culture, literature, archives, the internet and his life. Fyerool Darma graduated from LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore in 2012 with a degree in Fine Arts, and has previously worked as an Assistant Producer for a production house which made documentary and lifestyle videos for public institutions and television stations. His works have recently been presented at the Singapore Biennale and the NUS Museum, and are included in private and public collections like the Singapore Art Museum and Bank Negara Malaysia.

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