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The Modern Traditionalist

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Syaza Ramli,  Exhibitions Manager

Venue: OUR ArtProjects, Zhongshan Building, Kuala Lumpur

Syaza, standing by the wall text to Yeo Tze Yang’s solo show, where we found her
She’s one cool customer – here she is approaching Tze Yang’s work Street Lamp (2017)

Why do you wear the turban instead of a headscarf (as Muslim women tend to do)?

I was looking for headwear that’s both practical and reflective of my conservative background and I thought wrapping the scarf up in a turban was an elegant solution. I like outfits that convey a sense of neutrality, that seek to achieve a kind of universality, so I try to sport the wrap in a way that translates this. I’d like to think that though the turban hints at my roots, it’s modernised enough to indicate an openness in outlook and attitude.

Do you wear it all the time?

Yes, I do wear it whenever I’m out and about.

Is it hard to put on?

I’ve been told it looks complicated, but it’s not really. Not with some practice. And it stays on quite well, so most of the time it needs zero adjusting.

How do people react to it?

A friend of the artist we were showing at the gallery came to his talk. His first words to me were, “Hi, are you drying your hair?”

That wasn’t the first time somebody’s made such a remark. And I find it quite amusing. It has become a sort of joke, that I’m constantly drying my hair at work.

I don’t mind it – it’s a look now.

What do you think about when you’re trying to style the turban with your outfit for the day? Would you match the colours? Does that even matter?

My wardrobe is monochromatic so it’s very convenient! I don’t have to put a lot of thought into what I wear because my clothes are easily matched. It’s quite a simple formula: white head-wrap for white top, or I go all black.

What is your favourite artwork right now?

I like the elemental works of Olafur Eliasson. The last one I saw, “Memory of the Moving Glacier (Double Eclipse)” moved me so profoundly for a work that is so elementary.

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U is for Usha. Usha spent 12 years at the coalface of tax law in Singapore, before she returned to her first love, the arts. These days, you're likely to find her at museums and art events, camera in one hand and (as far as possible), wine glass in the other. Outside of covering events for Plural, her favourite pastimes include harassing her two cats and husband, and lounging about with trashy novels and salty chips.

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