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The ‘Anatomy of a Square Foot’: A Malaysian Gallery Exhibition on the Unreasonable Cost of Affordable Housing

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In a modest gallery in a quiet suburb of Kuala Lumpur, Khairul Hiffni & Shamin Sahrum have erected an installation that illuminates the exorbitant expenses of low-cost housing in Malaysia. The theatrical structure is situated in the middle of a low-rise area, where it is plainly visible. The building, entitled ‘The Anatomy of a Square Foot,’ grows as an open box constructed of concrete bricks to raise questions about the meaninglessness of ‘land.’ The exterior of the structure appears to be a simple concrete wall. However, if you approach and examine through the holes, you’ll see a row of painted bricks stacked on top of each other — much like residential buildings.

The artists invite people from all walks of life — from curious neighbors to local municipality employees — to be surrounded by these housing units and learn for themselves how costly it has become to live simply in Malaysia.

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The artists (see more here) protest the high housing costs in Malaysia with this installation. As a result, the ‘Anatomy of a Square Foot’ is intended to bring attention to the harsh reality of real estate development and how it degrades fundamental human living standards.

Housing estates have a special significance in the Malaysian psyche — everyone has a memory or an interaction with a housing unit. They may have resided in one, seeing someone else live there, or grown-up nearby. On the other hand, the architects attempted to reflect housing estate living conditions in their designs; the courtyard, a gap, a sliver of sight between wall gaps. The visitors may be transported back in time to a place they know or one they are unfamiliar with. The relentless desire to expand land and humanity’s burgeoning living future is represented by ‘Anatomy of a Square Foot.’

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