Anak Dara is the first solo show by the Malaysian artist Azzah Sultan. The definetion of Anak Dara literally means a virgin, but colloquially refers to an unmarried young girl. The artist is committed to exploring the nuances of the word and redefining it in contemporary context. Both Malay words and English words carry cultural packages and assumptions. For her, these assumptions are made more complicated by religious and cultural differences. She has lived in a cross-cultural space for most of his life, living in several different countries with his family, and living alone in the United States.
The exhibited work represents the absence of the body. The Melipat (foldable) series uses paint and draped fabrics to create human figures without the need to depict the body itself. Each of these works is a self-portrait, based on images the artist obtained from his childhood dance practice. They represent her past, present and the woman she hopes to be. By portraying herself as a traditional Malaysian batik fabric, the sultan pointed out the cultural context she had woven throughout her life. The artist’s mother teach their daughters Malaysian dance as a way to stay in touch with their culture while living and traveling internationally. Through the use of fabrics and bodies, the physical connection with culture is explored. She materiality helps bridge the gap between form and concept. Emphasizing material and physical expression helps maintain cultural connections in distance and time.