Mekong Cultural Hub

Perspectives from the Grassroots: Nature, Human and Urban Environment

Derived from  images linked with the ground, three Curated Conference participants Kamini Ramachandran (Singapore), Po-Chieh Chen (Taiwan) and Misouda Heuangsoukkhoun (Laos) express their interpretations of the idea of Perspectives from the Grassroots, which is the theme for the 2024 Meeting Point. Read on to discover their reflections. 

Story from: Kamini Ramachandran @kaministoryteller

Oral storytellers have traditionally told their tales seated on the ground, surrounded by their listeners. The storyteller’s perspective was in line with the audience; everyone was on the same level, without the distance or height of a stage, or other device.

This image of myself, a storyteller, seated amongst tall grass, looking down into my hands captures my current thoughts as a traditional arts practitioner – the moment for looking deeper and closer at my practice, despite the rising noise around me.

The Malay term for folktales is cerita rakyat which translates into English ‘the people’s stories’. These are the tales of ordinary people (and animals and other beings) and how they went about navigating the land or universe they functioned within. These stories were not only close to ‘the ground’ by revealing the intricacies of Nature and her surroundings, but they were also voices of the inhabitants of the land.

What’s also evident in this image, is the VFX influence in creating this digital story. ‘The ground’ continues to evolve, and change is a constant – it has been a journey of discovering my place, and perspective, as an oral storyteller caught up in this shifting environment.

Story from: Po-Chieh Chen

The photo was taken in 2020 during a trip to Hualien, a city in Eastern Taiwan. The clear boundary dividing the image into two parts, one of grass on the left and the other of cement on the right, reflects the boundaries in the world of art and culture.

The social system has set various performance evaluations (KPIs) for the operation forms and management methods of various types of organizations, but I want to try to break the stereotype of the mission and meaning of grassroots art organizations in society and then explore more meaningful and creative ways for the organization’s development in order to maintain the original intention of the organization, adapt to this ever-changing world, and explore different possibilities and impacts.

Story from: Misouda Heuangsoukkhoun

The ‘survival’ is the photo series I took after the heavy flood in Vientiane Capital in 2017. As I walked along the Mekong riverside, I saw things were dying. Though, there was some little green that still tried to be alive. I use this to represent the individual human being who at the end of the day needs to fight to survive in a hard situation.

The original idea was drawn from the photo I took at a museum in Taiwan which used to be a historical place where the government kept the political prisoners. I took this photo to represent those prisoners who lived there. The idea was later developed into a series of photos entitled The Survival.

Kamini Ramachandran, Po-Chieh Chen and Misouda Heuangsoukkhoun are three of 10 participants who joined our Curated Conferences Program as a part of the 2024 Meeting Point. To prepare for their public sharing at the 2024 Meeting Point, they have been meeting every month from June to December to  discuss two topics: Life Cycles of Grassroots Cultural Organizations in Asia and Hitting Pause: Examining Purpose & Practice. Please follow our website and social media for updates on the program.

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