The Lain Lain Project, Tracing Back to Our Roots

The Lain Lain Project, Tracing Back to Our Roots

Kuala Lumpur, 22 April 2024 – Established in 2018, Borneo Laboratory once served as an architect’s passion project. Now, with 7 publications, numerous exhibitions and countless collaborations with artists of diverse practices, the art collective from the island to the west is bringing their work to KL. Together with the support of Think City, Borneo Laboratory is pleased to present ‘The Lain Lain Project: Embracing Differences Through Lost and Found Wisdom’, a trilogical exhibition in GMBB KL from now until 20th October this year.

As the founder and curator of Borneo Laboratory, Wendy Teo is a craft activist born into a Borneo-based Malaysian family with deep ties to Kalimantan. Growing up in the political environment of Malaysian Borneo where the weight of one’s deeds was oftentimes overshadowed by the prominence of racial identity, the exploration of her roots has always been a sensitive and thought-provoking journey.

The Lain Lain Project is an exhibition that unveils narratives, dialogues, and chronicles stemming from three transformative journeys undertaken by the Borneo Laboratory over the past four years, culminating in a trilogical exhibition curation. With a profound aspiration to bridge the divisions caused by visible differences, the art exhibition seeks to rekindle our shared roots through the ancestral wisdom gleaned from Borneo’s craft practices, Malayan communities and global societies.

The Lain Lain Project, Tracing Back to Our Roots

The First Journey: Serumpun[1]

At the start of the exhibition, visitors are introduced to 12 Bornean-based crafts communities, showcasing their commitment to preserving ancestral wisdom in the face of eroding traditions due to extraction economies. First hosted at the Borneo Cultures Museum in 2022, the ‘Serumpun: crafts without borders’ project was an intellectually and intuitively driven endeavour to address the priorities of craft practitioners and communities across Borneo. ‘Serumpun’ means a bundle of grass sharing the same roots and aspirations, aptly reflecting how wisdom and culture in craft across the borders of Kalimantan, Sarawak and Sabah connect together as a wider ecosystem. 

The Lain Lain Project, Tracing Back to Our Roots

The Second Voyage: Big Trip[2]

The second part of the exhibition follows Borneo Laboratory’s research project “Big Trip – Tracking New Connections,” spanning from 2021 to 2023. The team explores how ancestral wisdom and rooted practices serve as the bedrock for cultivating broader global connections. By collecting stories from diverse communities with some in remote areas, we explored how dreams guide exploration, how gathering in nature shapes culture, the abilities we have lost due to environmental changes, and our perceptions of medicine. These may seem like unique perspectives, but similar texts can be found in different places around the world, helping us rediscover clues that connect humanity with the visible and latent aspects of the world.

The Lain Lain Project, Tracing Back to Our Roots

The Final Expedition: Lain Lain in Kuala Lumpur[3]

After exploring the essence of identity in the past, we bring ourselves back to the present, where ongoing dialogues are featured in the final part of the exhibition. Wendy Teo sat down with four individuals to unravel the intricacies of ‘lain lain’ within the Malayan landscape, asking thought-provoking questions to the selected Lain Lain candidates from various professions and backgrounds. Outside of this recorded dialogue, we are also featuring the work of six extraordinary individuals, who are actively devoting themselves into creating a more inclusive community in Malaysia. Visitors to the exhibition are encouraged to leave their thoughts on the gallery at the end of the exhibit, hoping that they leave with a new perspective on Lain Lain.

“Over the past 4 years, I had opportunities to work with numerous individuals and organizations with my projects, and now I’m very glad to have the chance to showcase the results of the research with Think City in KL. Lain in the Sanskrit dictionary is defined as ‘To Embrace’, and I hope that visitors to The Lain Lain Project will leave the exhibition more open to accepting one-another’s differences, as each of us are different as individuals, and yet as humans, we are the same.” said Wendy Teo.

The Lain Lain Project will be presented in GMBB KL, our venue partner, for six months from 20 April onwards until 20 October 2024. Brought to you by Borneo Laboratory with project partner Think City, admission is free of charge to all. For more information about the event, please visit our Facebook and Instagram.

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