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George Town Festival
From Totem, a collection of portraits of Malaysian women by Paris-based Diana Lui, which fuses past and present ideas of femininity.

A tribute to Penang folk

Jul 31, 2015 5:50 AM

IN its sixth year, the George Town Festival (GTF) takes a good long look at its very anchor - its very own people; the work 100% Penang by Berlin-based Rimini Protokoll is important for the community to be given a platform and centrestage, said Joe Sidek, the festival's artistic director.

"It points out that the festival belongs to the people of Penang, so it's my tribute to them," he said, adding that the island's spaces, people and "spirit of the land" have made the festival successful.

For the first time, GTF has added a food programme. Culinary Roots & Communities celebrates the heritage food of the Hainanese and the Indian communities; there will also be a Penang-Singapore Peranakan cuisine "cook-off".

The visual arts show Totem also plugs the local theme. Paris-based artist Diana Lui photographed portraits of women from all over Malaysia, dressed in traditional costumes. The project fuses past and present ideas of femininity and the roles women play. Her large-format photographic portraits have been compared to August Sander's portraits of the German people.

Bambu, meanwhile, is a showcase of South-east Asia's musicians using instruments made from bamboo; these include a Taiwanese orchestra, an angklung ensemble from Indonesia and a dance troupe from Penang.

This year's GTF spreads its wings further, with the new Butterworth Fringe Festival in Butterworth, on the mainland part of the state. This is expected to become a staple of GTF.