Public sculpture in Malaysia: a case study of Putrajaya

Mustafa, Muhizam B. (2009) Public sculpture in Malaysia: a case study of Putrajaya. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.


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Public art in Malaysia is an emerging discipline whose practice exists as infonnal rules of thumb rather than as codified standards. Aside from the famous Tugu "Vegara (National Monument), today, public art in Malaysia has a phantom quality because it lacks clear definition. This study examines the definition and vocabulary of public art in Malaysian context and develops coherent critical and theoretical framework in the deYelopment of public art practices.

This is the first study of its kind. The thesis describes the historical development of public art in Malaysia from the 'Eurocentric' era, to post - May 1969 which instigated an acute consciousness and crisis of identity, right up to recent attempts at furthering the 'indigenous', or 'national', character of modern Malaysian art. This is crucial in explaining how public art has been perceived as an aspect of cultural integration and diversity and to construct new identities, based on cultural and social realities that are peculiar to Malaysia. The thesis examines and evaluates the issue in public art, and on the many different policies adopted in the Malaysian public art practices. Based from field work in the Federal Territory of Putrajaya, a compilation of public artwork (sculpture) has been mapped to help understand diverse public art typology and the context in which the public art is being presented. The study takes a qualitative case study approach, analysing policy documentation, historical and cultural documents, interviewing artists, architects, academicians, local authority officers and governmental organisations.

In conclusion, this research has identified the correct description for public art definition in Malaysia where it is different from the western narratives as the main contribution of this thesis. While the western narratives context celebrates figurative fonn; Malaysian public art is non-figurative and is based upon a decorative tradition. This thesis has also contributed a clear chronology process of complex public art planning and commissioning process base upon the analysis of the 'Malaysian' documents and making comparison between present process used by the local authority offices, Ministry of Unity Art, Culture and Heritage Malaysia, and the National Art Gallery Malaysia. Finally, this thesis provides a sample of electronic database (see Appendix .t), first of its kind, as a methodological way for future researchers interested in the development of a successful public art programmes in Malaysia, as well in development for the Malaysian public art policy that will set standard and coherent objectives for public art practices.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
February 2009Completed
Subjects: CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-01 - creative arts and design > CAH25-01-05 - others in creative arts and design
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Birmingham Institute of Creative Arts > Birmingham School of Art
Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Richard Birley
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2017 15:53
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 17:20

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