A series of photographs of shadow puppets, lit solely by the flare of Hengyuan Refinery in Port Dickson, Malaysia. Our house is 200m from the fence.

The shadow puppets feature animals that were in a linocut print I made in 2018, for the book ‘Creatures of Near Kingdoms‘. The animals and plants in the linocut are those I have seen in our garden and neighborhood.

In 2019, I turned these animals into placards for the My Climate Strike protest march in Kuala Lumpur.

Shadow puppetry is a traditional performance artform in many Southeast Asian countries. In Malaysia it is known as wayang kulit and practiced mainly in the north-east peninsula state of Kelantan.

In the old days, the puppets were backlit with oil lamps. Darkness was necessary in order to enact the story. The refinery next door never sleeps. It burns day and night. We, like the animals of the neighborhood, live in the endless light of fossil fuel capitalism.

Without darkness, how can we dream of the day?

This project was commissioned for Dream of the Day, an exhibition of 38 artists from Southeast Asia, curated by Patrick Flores. It was held 29 Nov 2022 – 14 May 2023 at Ilham Gallery, Kuala Lumpur. For the exhibition, the photographs were installed as enlarged posters wheat-pasted to the walls.

This work was completed with the assistance of Grace Wong, Zedeck Siew and Lisa Howes.