Kang ouw, part of the artwork title, is Hokkien spelt in Dutch phonology. Spoken amongst Indonesian Chinese, it literally means “rivers and lakes” or jianghu in Mandarin, a reference to the psychological land in wuxia, and setting for endless cycles of love and revenge, good and evil. As with the codependent dichotomies inscribed into the laws of kang ouw, each side of the canvas carries a riven part of the image duality. Using transfer sheets, Widjaja continues his contemplation of the final fight in Sword master, the 2016 remake of Death duel (1977). The work is installed like a screen across the gallery. On one face are 12 black, shadow-like columns with faint images; and on the verso, fine-lined tracings of the duel, against different landscapes, in filmic time. While the work’s imagery is of swordsmen in an imaginary Chinese landscape, written into the inception of the work is the ancient Javanese poem hana caraka. The mythical origin of the Javanese script, the poem tells of two warriors who duelled till death. Consisting of four short lines, the poem is a perfect pangram of the Javanese alphabet as each letter appears once.
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