Malaysian gallery keeps 1,000-year art collection in arctic vault

It might be hard to imagine what the world will be like a thousand years from now, but here’s something we know now: a number of works of art from the private collection of Artemis Art co-founders S. Jamal Al-Idrus and UC Loh, will be unharmed at a depot in Svalbard, Norway.

Artemis Art has registered to be part of the Arctic World Archive (AWA), a secure repository for the memory and collections of the world.

It is located 300m inside a disused coal mine and designed to withstand natural and man-made disasters.

The data here is stored on long-term archival technology developed by the Norwegian digital storage company Piql AS. It can withstand extreme electromagnetic exposure and can last for centuries with guaranteed future accessibility.

If reading technology is no longer available, data can be extracted manually with a camera, light source, and computer.

“It’s about the preservation and security of valuable or irreplaceable information. Adding context to value, it refers to a loss event that has a severe consequence effect – individual, organization, country. AWA is the last step in ensuring the security and backup of our digital data.

“The criterion is simple: memories, objects or information deemed irreplaceable can and should be stored on piqlFilm (a 35mm ultra-high resolution nano-film) and deposited in AWA,” explains Jamal.

Data retention

Representing the first Malaysian contribution, this Artemis Art repository celebrates the artistic culture of Southeast Asia as seen through the eyes of emerging artists. The selection of works from the Jamal and Loh collection includes regional works by Ajim Juxta, Michael Chuah and Umibaizurah Mahir of Malaysia; Erica Hestu Wahyuni ​​and Gabriel Aries Setiadi from Indonesia; Charlie Co and Yeokaa from the Philippines to Chihiro Nakahara from Japan and Li Wei and Liu Zhiyin from China.

Ajim Juxta’s “Penghuni Distopia Tugu” (ink and coffee on paper, 2015), a work from the Artemis Art collection which has been deposited with the AWA. Photo: Artemis Art

“This selection covers a wide range of styles, mediums and artist nationalities, reflecting the general nature of our personal collection, as well as what Artemis Art does as a gallery, which is to promote young emerging artists,” he adds.

These works of art were digitized using high resolution photography.

This Artemis repository joins a growing repository of digital treasures from around the world, including The Scream by Edvard Munch, Vatican Library manuscripts, scientific breakthroughs, political stories, Github’s open source code repository, famous films and contemporary cultural treasures.

A collection of digital art by American artist Sean Snyder and the ‘Britney’ fossil from the Natural History Museum in London are recent additions to the vault.

Initially, depositors included Norwegian heritage institutions, art collectors, historians and business representatives, before many more joined virtually across the world.

Jamal recalls how this AWA journey began in late 2020, when the Kuala Lumpur gallery was introduced to the directors of Piql Malaysia and discussed ideas on how Piql technology can be applied to the art world.

“The idea of ​​keeping a digital copy of an art collection with its provenance was considered given the importance of both elements as proof of ownership and authenticity for the art collector.

“Artemis Art and Piql Malaysia developed other services around the idea and then developed a range of provenance archiving solutions for private art collectors and institutions to establish a secure and immutable digital repository. for their collection of works of art and provenance, ”explains Jamal.

Beyond the gallery space

Is this one of the ways to archive works from galleries and private collections?

“As we (Artemis Art and Piql Malaysia) continue to refine our range of solutions, our hope is to see private collectors’ collections in Malaysia and the region, as well as institutional collections, deposited with AWA in the near future. . future, ”he says.

Artemis Art has clearly been busy in recent months, following the closure of its physical space at Publika KL in January of this year.

Umibaizurah Mahir’s “New Kids In Town # 3-5” (2015-2016) is part of the AWA vault archives. Photo: Artemis Art

In 2020, the gallery was closed for approximately six months in total due to the movement control order and related restrictions.

“Looking back on how 2021 has gone so far, we think we made the right choice to close the physical space. We took care of ourselves despite not having a physical gallery. Among them, he worked with Piql to develop art provenance archiving solutions.

“We have also continued what we have been doing in recent years, such as collaborations with galleries outside of Malaysia, notably with those in China, the Philippines and Taiwan. This is something we will continue to do in the future, ”says Jamal.

The gallery participated in Art Central Hong Kong in May. Next month (November) will see a collaboration with Richard Koh Fine Art to participate in ART021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair.


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