KataKatha is a common term in the ASEAN community, meaning to chat. Initiated by Maybank Kim Eng with the collaboration of PUSAKA and supported by Maybank Foundation, the KataKatha project aims to achieve a mutual understanding of the shared history, shared culture, and shared traditions between the Southeast Asian countries to enhance a common Southeast Asian artistic, cultural, and intellectual experience.

The KataKatha initiative will weave a narrative through the perspectives and experiences of a collective of writers, filmmakers, poets, artists, architects, and other artistically-inclined leaders throughout the ASEAN region particularly Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. The logo for KataKatha – Southeast Asian Cultural Conversations Series also reflects the inter-connectedness of Southeast Asia, a region blessed with cultural commonalities and diversity.

"This World, Out Here" is simply a unique arts exhibition that started with the KataKatha project last year, which is a series of conversations between selected regional practitioners of culture and the arts within Southeast Asia.

The exhibition is basically a display of the participants' creative process of achieving the aim of the project. Instead of featuring the end-product of the artists' ideas, the exhibition focuses on the creative process of the participants throughout KataKatha. Participated by 10 creative think tanks from 5 countries – Malaysia (MY), Indonesia (ID), Thailand (TH), the Philippines (PH), and Singapore (SG), this group of people brainstormed ideas of what it means to be a Southeast Asian. The team consists of public intellectuals Goenawan Mohamad (ID), Farish A. Noor (MY), and Lai Chee Kien (SG); culture and arts practitioners Avianti Armand (ID), Agnes Arellano (PH), Pichet Klunchun (TH), Nadiah Bamadhaj (MY), and Geraldine Kang (SG); and filmmakers Anocha Suwichakornpong (TH) and Kanakan Balintagos (PH); who conversed deeply on understanding each other's history and culture to grasp that similar experiences throughout the region, while innovating measures to preserve the traditions. KataKatha also featured a special guest, Latiff Mohidin (MY) who is one of the region's best-known cultural figures.

In order to spawn imagination for the public of KataKatha's objectives, the exhibition is one of the initiatives taken to convey their ideas visually to the public. "This World, Out Here" is an attempt to generate the public's imagination intuitively by playing around with visuals, space, soundscape, and smell to arouse the five human senses. The ideas were

displayed in a bamboo-made tent to manifest the usage of bamboo as the main material for architectural design in pre-modern Southeast Asia. The sense of smell was evoked by the odour of the rice husk and spices mixture that was scattered on the floor. The usage of this mixture is significant as the fragrance is consistently associated with Southeast Asian ambience. Furthermore, the presentation was laid out in a very typical Southeast Asian manner that represents the notion "shared history, shared culture, and shared traditions" such as the elements of shadow play, fabrics, folk music, and hymns in company with sketches, notes, and scripts provided by the participants.

Speaking at the launch, Chairman of Maybank, Tan Sri Dato’ Megat Zaharuddin Megat Mohd Nor said, “With the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) last year, we have various gaps to bridge before we can truly reach our aim of creating a single market. But this does not mean the mission is overreaching as the commonalities found in arts and culture erase the differences in gender, race and religion, a key driver for an integrated society. The support of arts and culture is important for a society to thrive further, as it strengthens creative ideas, sparks inspirations, inculcates thirst of knowledge, and offers hope that opportunities exist and matter. Thus, the inherent value of arts and culture is innumerable in building a flourished nation, in line with the AEC agenda.”

In Maybank, we are committed in achieving progress side-by-side with our clients, and in order to accomplish the goal, it is our duty to take a step back and fathom the culture in the countries where we operate. According to John Chong, the CEO of Maybank Kim Eng, "We truly believe that for us to better chart our future, we need to understand the past through arts and culture." Moreover, we are dedicated to serve our clients with wide-scope knowledge and out of the box way of thinking in order to humanise the services provided to connect to the public. "Arts and culture is humanising, it's an effective learning tool, and it brings community together," he added.

The exhibition was on display at Balai Seni, Menara Maybank from July 28th, 2016 till August 28th, 2016. During this period, public programmes such as curatorial walk-throughs, film screening by Philippino filmmaker Kanakan Balintagos, and conversations with Singaporean architect Lai Chee Kien and visual artist Geraldine Kang were also conducted. Lastly, a special poetry reading by Latiff Mohidin was held during the closing ceremony of the programme on August 28th, 2016.

For more information on our programmes, download the Maybank Sustainability Reports here.