BY ZENA KHAN
October to December 2021 sees the second iteration of CIMB’s groundbreaking arts and culture festival, Artober.
As a leading Southeast Asian bank, CIMB is associated with notions of Asian finance. Yet, to stay ahead of the regional economic curve and evolving customer needs it seems the bank recognises a need to be on track with social, cultural and community trends at home in Malaysia and across her neighbouring countries.
As Southeast Asia increasingly engages with the global trend for festivals and regularly scheduled art exhibitions (think of Singapore’s annual art fairs or the Bangkok Biennale), CIMB added Malaysia into the mix with a new form of cultural activity in 2020. Enter the first-ever arts and culture campaign by a bank: Artober. Throwing their weight behind the Malaysian art scene indicates CIMB’s recognition that in the evolving contemporary landscape art is an asset whose value extends past the financial. Art has the ability to connect people with ideas, events and prompt critical discourse that stimulates and encourages positive change. Concurrently, zeroing in on our local art scene links to the bank’s mission of ‘profits with purpose’ while building a resilient artistic community—a key component of Artober’s mission statement.
With an objective to look after the country’s cultural frontliners in the wake of the COVID-19, CIMB seeks to help the art market expand and to circulate knowledge amongst the public with a series of events, exhibitions and content that will be available over a three-month period from October 1st to December 31st 2021. Dynamic and curious, these projects keep artistic support at their core. This is primarily through the staging of various commercially viable art exhibitions, as well as shining a light on other Malaysian projects that provide artists with much-needed support, such as the Rimbun Dahan Artist Residency.
The curated mix of in-person activities in the form of gallery exhibitions and a hotel art fair and digital content indicates that CIMB is in touch with the ways in which we interact with each other and the world around us as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The art world has long utilised a mix of online and offline activities for festivals and fairs, but during the extensive lockdowns necessitated by the pandemic these have taken on an increasingly hybrid model that creatively compliments each other. From the first edition of Artober, CIMB sought to harness the power of video as a way to bring content to wider audiences; this year Artober will extend this with a series of highly anticipated digitally presented art talks.
We break down this extensive cultural campaign into a bite-sized series for our readers. Read on what is coming up and where you can see it!
THE DIGITAL CONTENT
Artober’s aim to grow Malaysia’s contemporary art scene led them to produce a series of collector videos in 2020, featuring Aliya and Farouk Khan of The AFK Collection, Dr Steve Wong and artist duo Suhaimi and Sarah, as well two local hotels renowned for their art collections, Element KL and Four Seasons. These videos provided a delightful glimpse into the collector’s stories, motivations and artworks. This year, CIMB is releasing two videos: a tribute to Rimbun Dahan, the country’s most important artist residency founded and run by the famed architect Hijjas Kasturi and his wife Angela, and a series on several of the participating art galleries. To complement these will be a host of digital art talks by art world professionals and personalities, who will share keen insights into the history and workings of our local art world.