Image: Agak-Agak by Janette Hoe. Photos by Damian Vincenzi and Eelin Cheah.

Agak-Agak by Janette Hoe


Agak-Agak (pronounced aa-guck aa-guck)
by Janette Hoe in collaboration with Ria Soemardjo and Mindy Meng Wang

Agak-Agak is a playful reminisce on Ria, Mindy and my relationship with our grandmothers and the collective, fragmented details of our memories.

My work reflects on what ‘re-membered’ histories within the body are activated in improvisation.  During the isolation of COVID-19 lockdown I was missing the sensorial stimuli of human contact.  To escape the discomfort, I would sometimes drift into a space of daydream, recalling the times I spent with my grandmother, which comforted me emotionally.

Reminiscent of our grandmothers, I was interested to bring together the living archival bodies and shared cultural roots of my collaborators and I.  I remember my grandmother for her amazing culinary skills.  Her intuitive cooking style needed no written recipes or measuring tools but her memory, hands, senses and a simple ‘agak-agak’ approach was key.

‘Agak-agak’ is a Malay word that translates loosely as ‘to guess’ or ‘more or less’ and is the impetus for this video work.  Like the act of re-membering, it may be fragmented in detail, but eventually an image or story (or in the case of my grandmother, some delicious Nyonya delicacies) takes form that links past and present.”

Watch the artist, Janette Hoe, in conversation with Adolfo Aranjuez, talking about their work here:

Agak-Agak by Janette Hoe is presented as part of Mapping Melbourne 2020-21.

Principal Partners:
City of Melbourne, Creative Victoria and Australia Council for the Arts

Supporting Partners:

Pivot Residency:
Abbotsford Convent