Iban Cockfighting

Artist: Kho Xun Fu
Year: 2022
Prize Category: Consolation
artwork category


Artwork Description

Kho has chosen a subject for his entry which is an important part of cultural heritage for some but might be viewed more negatively by others.
To the artist’s knowledge, “In the eyes of Iban compatriots, it is both grand and beautiful to hold cockfighting activities on their festival days. A large number of people flock to the festival, and everyone makes noise for the cockfighting, which adds a lot of joy to the celebration. From the perspective of ethnic customs, cockfighting culture shows the brave and aggressive spirit of the Iban nation. The rooster and rooster's blood are also used for ritual purification.”
It is interesting that the artist chooses to bring our focus away from the fight itself, portraying instead a veteran cockfighter with his rooster, like two old warriors at rest side by side before or after battle. And rather than holding up the beauty of the rooster, he draws us to the proud cultural display embodied in the human figure, his skin etched with a complex array of tattoos and his headdress a crown of feathers, as he looks out at us with a slightly bemused but mostly unreadable expression.

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