Building Merdeka: Independence Architecture in Kuala Lumpur 1957-1966 (2007)

I was truly fortunate that the staff at Galeri Petronas shared my enthusiasm for an exhibition about Merdeka-period architecture in 2007, the year that Malaysia celebrated 50 years as an independent country. The exhibition was curated around 10 state architectural projects completed between 1957 and 1966 in Kuala Lumpur, the capital city. Part of the research for the exhibition came from my doctoral work, but the major challenge was to present perspectives and contexts around which they emerged. I transcribed an 8mm movie made by 4 architects on Merdeka Day, borrowed original drawings, sketches, paintings and sculpture, as well as commissioned two architectural models of projects demolished: the Subang Airport and Merdeka Park. The other delightful part for me was that it shared the gallery space with an exhibition of Yasmin Ahmad’s Petronas advertisements, whose work I admired. A forum was later convened with participation by several of the architects and artists that had made the art and architecture projects possible.