“What Are You?”: On Mixed-Race Identity and ‘The Buddhist Bug’

On the opening night of The Buddhist Bug in June 2019 at Wei-Ling Contemporary in Kuala Lumpur, I arrived late.

By seven thirty, the performance artist Anida Yoeu Ali was already in character. Her whole body was encased in a costume that made her look like the titular Buddhist Bug: long and segmented, with her own face at the Bug’s head, wrapped in saffron orange fabric. I took a step backwards as my brain tried to make sense of the spectacle.

She bowed and undulated, moved slowly from side to side. I stood at the entrance with the other latecomers, face to face with the artist’s resolute stare. Afraid to intrude. Finally, a gallery assistant beckoned us in and we entered, heads ducked the way you do when crossing in front of someone here in Malaysia. The Bug fixed us in her gaze, allowing us a slight smile.

In full: https://catapult.co/stories/deborah-augustin-buddhist-bug-anida-yoeu-ali-malaysia-mixed-race

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