I wanted to create a piece that reflected an everyday scene in Malaysia that reminds me of home. Teh Tarik (which means \'pulled-tea\' in Malay) is a drink served in local coffeeshops (or kopitiams) that is sweet, frothy and milky, and is frothed up when tea is poured between two containers. Perhaps more important than the drink itself is the underlying culture. Locals gather in kopitiams and mamaks, and here they talk about where to buy the best durians, the traffic, politics, weather, soccer... It is a drink that brings people together and I hope that I get to share a bit of my country through this piece!
I used 20,000 teabags to illustrate a man preparing teh tarik in the background, with soft drink cans and an ice-kacang (shaved ice) machine as props in front of him hung in the foreground. The piece was 3.2x2.2meters...and weighed 200kgs! The teabags are stained in 10 different shades of brown. The teabags were stained by steeping the bags in hot water - the lesser and hotter the water, the more they were stained. Brown food dye had to be mixed into the water for the darker shades to appear. All these bags were stapled and attached onto tiles of wiremesh, then hung off a wooden frame. I spent about two months planning, sourcing, creating and filming this piece.
This piece was commissioned to be displayed at the World Economic Forum in Davos, 23 Jan 2015.