Balai Seni Negara - New Naratif

The Art of Censorship in Malaysia

On 4 February, four artworks by contemporary artist Ahmad Fuad Osman (also known as “Fuad”) were removed from his exhibition, At The End Of The Day Even Art Is Not Important, at the National Art Gallery of Malaysia (colloquially known as “Balai” from its Malay name, Balai Seni Negara). The removal was allegedly ordered by a single unnamed member of Balai’s 13 Board of Directors. On 16 February, all four works were reinstated, but not before a public outcry prompting three open letters, two petitions, and one leaked official letter—all within the space of a week.

The exhibition surveys the 51-year-old Fuad’s artistic development over a period spanning more than half his life, from 1990 to 2019. It was opened to the public on 28 October 2019, and was slated to end on 31 January this year. However, the exhibition was extended to the end of February after overwhelming positive feedback from the public.

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