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Tanah/Air: Casting Interspecial Shadows

Part 2 Project 2021
Toufiq Andry Guruh Bin Mohamad Juahir
Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture | UK
Anthropocentric approaches to the countryside (kampung, palm plantations, farms, aquaculture ponds, motorways) are destroying and fragmenting untouched mangrove ecosystems along the Straits of Johor. Tanah/Air, referencing the Malay phrase meaning ‘homeland’ and combining the words tanah (‘land’) and air (pronounced ‘ah-yer’, meaning ‘water’), explores the enforced expulsion of the indigenous Orang Seletar and the selective emigration of non-human dwellers (otters, hornbills, bats) from the Straits, and the effects of these displacements on the mangroves. Old and new ecological narratives contest the boundary line between Malaysia and Singapore, drawn down the middle of the Strait, and inform a rendering of this tentacular landscape based on wayang kulit, a storytelling form practised throughout the Malay Archipelago employing shadow puppets to narrate myths, and frequently depicting anthropo-animal figures as key protagonists. A new fiction materialises for the Straits of Johor, in which species mingle in blurred edges between things, gathering into complex enmeshings of material, politics and myth. In these points of gathering, following Donna Haraway’s Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene, Tanah/Air proposes a new way of living in a multispecies world, one that is terran, muddled and mortal. Two sites of making-kin emerge, sympoeitic niches spinning out loopy tendrils like the roots of the rhizophora.
Toufiq Andry Guruh Bin Mohamad Juahir

Chris French
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