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Kelvin Chuah

MA work

Imagining Instant Malaysia: A Political Façade in the Commonwealth Exhibition

Instant Malaysia (1973) is a forgotten display at the now defunct Commonwealth Institute in London. An undocumented and unknown national exhibition even to Malaysians, it was an agency, a political façade premised in a neo-colonial space to promote a new country during the seventies. 

To recreate the exhibition in this essay, histories of the Commonwealth, Imperial and Commonwealth Institutes, museology and exhibition studies are intertwined with Archigram’s practices - the architects who designed and fabricated the exhibition. These intertextual readings created a fuller picture of the exhibition and opened the research to personal mediations, allowing my own metanarrative of Instant Malaysia in 2018.

Arranging the text into three different parts: the first pertains to my imaginarium of Instant Malaysia, while the second is a narrativization of institutional and exhibition histories connected to the Malaysian exposition; the third is a delineation of Archigram drawings of Instant Malaysia with my own voice structured in a manner similar to exhibition catalogues. 


  • Kelvin Chuah
  • MA Degree


    School of Arts & Humanities


    MA Critical Writing in Art & Design, 2018

  • Degrees

  • Postgraduate Diploma in Asian Art, SOAS, University of London, 2016; Master of Art (Visual Arts), University of Malaya, 2009; Bachelor of Arts (Fine Art) with Distinction, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, 2000
  • Experience

  • Art Consultant, Southeast Asia, 2010–current; Lecturer, Southeast Asia, 2004–2014; Manager and Curator, Southeast Asia, 2000–2004
  • Awards

  • Research programme, Ambitious Alignments: New Histories of Southeast Asian Art, Getty Foundation’s Connecting Art Histories initiative, 2015–2016
  • Conferences

  • Kelvin Chuah, Izmer Ahmad & Emelia Ong Ian Li, 'Chinese Diaspora and the Emergence of Alternative Modernities in Malaysian Visual Arts', International Conference on Humanities, Society and Culture (ICHSC), 2011; Kelvin Chuah, 'Imagining Malayan Modernism: A Case Study of Cheong Soo Pieng, 1946-1964', Convergence in Performance and Creative Arts (PACIA), International Conference, School of the Arts, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia, 2011
  • Publications

  • Kelvin Chuah, 'The Practice of Watercolour at the Dawn of Modern Art in Malaya', Imagining Identities: Narratives in Malaysian Art, Vol. 1, Beverly Yong, Nur Hanim Khairuddin, T.K. Sabapathy, eds., Kuala Lumpur: RogueArt, 2012; Kelvin Chuah and Izmer Ahmad, ‘Predicaments and Promises: Reflections on Art Writing in Malaysia and Singapore’, Diaaalogue, August 2010, Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong, 2010; Kelvin Chuah, 'Tracing the Origins and History of Watercolour in Malaya and Singapore', Mohd Anis Md Nor, ed., Tirai Panggung: Performance Arts Journal, Vol. 8, Kuala Lumpur: Cultural Centre University Malaya, 2008.