ABOUT THE MEMORIAL PROJECT

Enrique de Malacca Memorial Project is produced by Type O Project and led by artist Ahmad Fuad Osman. The project is conceived in the form of a memorial or commemorative display to Enrique, a Nusantara “guide” to Ferdinand Magellan during his quest in circumnavigating the earth.

The project is a fictional memorial space, built on fragments of small historical evidence and layers of alternate histories. It is an attempt to reconstruct a lost character and narratives while navigating and negotiating the void identities of Enrique between Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

The memorial installation is made based on a series of archival surveys and interviews. It features a mixed-media installation of portrait paintings, a statue of an imagined Enrique, old maps, replica of a carrack, armada manifest, original and reproduction of artefacts, video documentations and copies of documents accumulated during the research of the project.

Some of these materials even reveal contradictory facts and fictions surrounding Enrique. The superimposition of divergent colonial, postcolonial and nationalist representations and narratives of Enrique.

A Brief History Pertinent to the Project

As known to many, Ferdinand Magellan was named the first man to circumnavigate the world but few of us knew that he was actually killed in a war at Mactan’s island on the morning of 27th April 1521 without completing a 360 degrees of his voyage.


Antonio Pigafetta, a Venetian scholar and explorer, who was with Magellan and the Armada Moluccas throughout the journey, recorded it in detail in his journal. Enrique, a slave who was captured in Malacca in 1511, had sailed along with Magellan throughout his voyage until the war at Mactan Island.

After that, Enrique had been in an oblivion. Who was he before he was baptised as Enrique? What was his real name? Where was he actually from? Why was he so special that Magellan took him back to Portugal, then Azamor, and Spain, and then back again to the Malay Archipelago 10 years later? Was it just merely accidental or intentional? And where was he after Mactan’s episode? Could it be him who completed the journey hence deserved a place in history as the first man to circumnavigate the world instead of Magellan?

“NO PERIOD FROM CREATION TO THEIR PRESENT WAS REPRESENTED UNCONTROVERSIALLY, AND NO HISTORIAN, CHRONICLER, OR ANNALIST WAS IMMUNE FROM THE ACCUSATION OF CREDULITY, MISMANAGEMENT OF EVIDENCE, OR DELIBERATE DISTORTION OF THE PAST.”

– NICHOLAS POPPER

Taking off from the above quote, Type O Project and artist Ahmad Fuad Osman established a trajectory to this installation work from an old novel entitled ‘Panglima Awang’ (Commander Awang). This postcolonial and nationalistic novel was written circa 1957/58 and was based on a small historical evidence. It was meant to provide imaginative support to the Malay struggle for independence as well as the post-independent nation-building in Malaysia. It piqued the team into exploring deconstructed and reconstructed narratives through an alternative history.


The Epitome of a ‘Nusantara’ Hero

Enrique, undoubtedly represents the once intertwined or shared identity and history of Maritime Southeast Asia, and its fluid fluid sociocultural landscapes and geographical boundaries.

But at present time, just like many other elements of social, tradition and culture — such as types of food, arts and performances — which were originally shared by the regional communities before the advent of European colonialism, Enrique is also subject to claims and counterclaims of ownership among Southeast Asian nations.

Seen in this context, “Enrique de Malacca Memorial Project” does not essentially and merely attempt to elevate a Malay (naval) hero onto the pedestal of world history but partly, and most importantly, to insinuate the perpetual yet futile sociocultural and geopolitical tugs-of-war between the nations of Southeast Asia.

We believe through this fictional memorial project, Enrique can be reemerge as a reciprocal influential figure that empowers and ties the Southeast Asian people.