天顶一粒星, 地下开书斋

Okui Lala

Two channel video installation
4.51 min

“My great grandfather came from Shantou, China with his family to Penang, Malaysia in the 1920s. Teochew was spoken among my dad and his siblings, my grandparents and my grandaunts. My understanding in Teochew is limited as I only learn and use the language through listening and speaking in extended family gatherings. Despite going to a Chinese school, Teochew were not taught in classes and we was forbidden to use it as it is consider a dialect."

“天顶一粒星, 地下开书斋” ( A star in the sky, a school beneath it) is a children rhyme I vividly recall from my late grandmother. In the video, the lady that started to recite the rhyme is my cousin aunt whom is in her 70s and my dad (in his 60s) and me (20s). According to my cousin aunt, there are various version of the rhymes, but it always start with the same 1st sentence- 天顶一粒星, 地下开书 斋."

Okui Lala is an artist, cultural worker and facilitator for community video workshops. Her practice spans from video and performance to community engagement. Born in Penang, Okui is currently based in Kuala Lumpur and balancing her long distance relationship with her parents.

@okuilala on Instagram.