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Asian Art News KLIP

Asian Art News KLIP

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Published by Zhuang Wubin

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Published by: Zhuang Wubin on Sep 01, 2012
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12/16/2013

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Nik
Ridzuan
Nik
Yusoff
(UiTM),from
Afterimage.
The Ascent
Of
The lnwge
Forthe
first
time
in
Malaysia,
four
national
institutions
and
11
commercial
galleries
came
togethertocelebrate
the
art
of
photography
at
thefirst
Kuala
Lumpur
International
Photograph
yBiennale.
The
Biennale
was
theme-oriented
as
eachgallery
retainedcuratorial
flexibility.
A
 Asia closes
the
economic
gap
with the West
and
art
becomesan ever
more important part
of
society,
an increase
in
art
bienna
l
es in
this
part
of
the
world
hasbecome
evident. Even with
the
proliferation
of
such
festivals,
the
inaugural
Kuala
Lumpur
International Photography Biennale
7005
wasgreeted with
great enthusiasm. Granted that
Chobi
Me
la
in Dhaka,Bangladesh,
is
still the most poi
gnantphotographicevent
in Asia
with
itsclear commitment to
present
voices from
the
majority
of
theworld,
but
it is technically
not
considered a biennale.For eo-curators Alex Moh
and
Li-
En Chong, it
took
greattenacity
and
hard
>
ork to piece together theinaugural
Kuala
Lumpur International
Photography
Biennale
Qune
4-
October
9,
2005). In
the
21
ex
fii'6
itions
that
made up
the
Bien
nal
eth
ere were works
from
over
200local
and
internationalphotographersfrom
such
countries asAustralia,Canada,Cuba, Germany,Japan, Norway,
the
Philippines,
Singapore,
the
United
Kingdom,
and
United States, as well as Malaysia.Althoughthe
scope
of
photogra
phers-in
terms their
countries-looked
comprehensive,
it
was still narrow for
such
a biennale. Most
of
the
well-known
pho
tographers
command
a fee
to
attend
and
so,
due
to a very tight budget, priced them
selves
out of the
Biennale
.
Morten
86
ASIAN
ART NEWS
By
Zhuang
Wubin
Krogvold,Norway'sHasselbladmaster,
is
one
such
example. While his environmental portraits
were
exhibited at Darling MuseArt
Gallery in
conjunctionwiththe
Biennale,hislively
presence was
sorelymissed.Krogvold'simages are direct
and
simple, although they also
enhance the
"Oriental"perception
of
Asia
and
Africa.German
photographer
Martin Fengel's series
of
five images, collectively titled
Guns,
worked
well as
an
insight into the sharpreality
of
guns
in the
name
of
providingsecurity in Manila. Printed
on
inexpensivepaper, Fengel invited the audience at
Val
entine Willie Fine
Art
to
take his posters
home
for free. But a key feature
of
the inaugural Biennale
was
that it
was medium
rather
than
theme-oriented,as each individual gallery retained curatorialflexibilityto presentphotographyin its myriad forms. The initial impetus
of
the
Biennale
came
from the success
of
the exhibition
History
&
Beyond:MalaysianPhotography
from
1900 to the Present
(2004)at the National Art Gallery
of
Malaysia,alsococurated
by
Alex Moh
and
Li-En
Chong.
Continuingin
thevein
of
recognizing
Malaysia'sphotographic heritage,thekey
note
exhibition
of
the
Biennale
was
TheLoke Legacy: ThePhotographyCollection
of
Dato Loke Wan Tho
at
the
National ArtGallery. Because
of
his personalinterest in
photography
and
hisprivileged back
ground
as
the ninth son
of
tin
magnate LokeYew,Loke Wan
Tho was
able to amass
in
the 1950s a collection
of
2.32..
photograp
hs
by
173 photographersfrom
25
countries.
making
it
the largest
collection
of
Piqorialismin the region,
and
possibly
the
world. Loke Wan Tho's collection isbeingexhibited
under
the themes
of
Landsca
pes.
Still-Lifes
and
Studies,
and
Portraiture,
fromMay
31
2005 to March
7,
2006.
Building
on
renewed
interest
among
Malaysians
to
learn
about
their
~
tory
throughold
photographicimages,-selection
of
20 gelatin silver printssho
by
lsmail Nasiruddin Shah,the late Sultan
of
Terengganu
and
formerYangDi Pertuan A
go
ng
,from1948to 196
2,
was
e
Xh
1bita.. attheDarlingMuse
Art
Gallery.Because
of
hisposition,Sultan Ismail could
affon...
to
photograph
Malaysia
and
Singapore
when
the majority
of
the residentsweremerely trying to
eke
out a living.
He
workedin the manner
of
a streetphotographer, per
hapswithout
thinkingthat
hisimages
would
be
archived for later generatio
ns
Today, the legacy
of
Sultan Ismail,
who
wasthefirstMalayp
hoto
JS
rapher
to
be
an
As
sociate
of
the Royal
P
~p
hic
Society
of
the UnitedKingdom,is
under
thecustody
of
his grandson,
Raja
Ihsan Shah.Unlike
some
descendants
who
haveallowedtheirphotographictreasures to go towaste
Raja
Ihsan Shah
is
proud
of
his grandfather'legacy
of
hand-printedoriginals,negatives.
and
photographic equipment.
NOVEMBER/D
ECEMBER
200.:
 
Lee Seah Kee(Singapore
),
Fancy,
gelatin silver print.Kan Hing Fook(Hong Kong),
Soaring Wings,
gelatin silver print. Collection of National ArtCollection of National Art Gallery Malaysia. Former collection of Gallery Malaysia.Former collection
of
Data Lake Wan Tho.Data Lake Wan Tho.Sultan lsmail Nasiruddin Shah,
Bukit
Besi,
1959, silver gelatin print.Sultan lsmail
Nasiruddin
Shah,
Jetty,
1954, silver gelatin print.
Sultan
lsmail Naslruddin
Shah,
Pukat Tarek,
1957,sepia-toned silver gelatin print.
NOVEM
BE
R/D
ECE
MBER
2005
Sultan
lsmail Nasiruddln
Shah,
Perahu Biduk,
1961
,fiber-based Kodakcalor print.
ASIAN
ART
NEWS
87
 
c:t....
tt
t'
("
Th
_!'
imag
es
arehis memoirs, his
writings.
Onl
yby
stud
yin
_g
hisentire colleCti
on
can
we qnderstandh
is
li
fe
and
his
photo
graphicphilosophy,"says Raja Ihsan Shah. "Sometimes,
people would
walk into
the
gallery
and
tell
me
that his
composi
tions
areinfluenced
by
the Japanese.
I
would
thencheck with mygrandma
and
realize that
he
didhavesome
Japanese
friends
who
taught him
things
about Japa
nese
photography
.Butmygrandfatherwas
more
like a..socialphot
og
r
ap
her
he
understood the
places
and
peoQle
he
.J)
hoto
gra
_R
hed,
things that
were
significa
ntto
him.In Kuala Lumpur,
he
focused
on
the
citysb
ustling street
economy.
"
Therewere
various
phases to
Sul
tan
Ismail's
photographic
life.From 1948/
to
1953,
he
shot numerous
portraits
of
children
and
workers,hand-printing
or
h
and-coloring
his images
in
his studio.Sometimes,
he would
color
the
negatives
toaccentuate the
blacks
or
the
facial
de-
2
tails. From 1957,
the
Sultan started experi
menting with
color. His first interview
ap
peared
in the
Malay
paper
in
1958.By
the
mid-1960s,all his
color
pictures
were shot
)
on
Leica cameras.Most
of
his
printed
im
-J
ages
were not
cropped
unless
there
were
a lot
of
people
in
the
frame.According
to
Raja'sgrandmother,Sultan Ismail'sfavor ite
hours
were
7
to
9 am, 12
noonand
4
to
6.30
pm.
While
there are
no
issues
with the
physical preservation
of
the
legacy, Raja
Ihsan
Shah is
only at the
start
of
the long
process
of
archiv
ing all
theneg
atives.Some
of
them
requirerestoration
becausethe
colors have faded
over the
years. Digitaltechnologyis
an
option
that Raja
Ihsan
Shah
is
currently exploring. And like
him
there are
ph
otographers from
the
Biennale
who
haveharnessed
digital
technologyto
reinterpret Malaysia'sheritage
and
history.RizalZainudin,29,
is
one
photographer
whose
application
of
digital technology
is
straightforward.Inspired
by
AndyWarhol, Zainudin
manipulatedthe
imagesthat
he
shot in
Malaysiausing a Wacom,so that
there
is
an
interplay
of
color
and
black-and-white within
each
image
,
thereby
evokinga
sense
of
nostalgia
beneath
Malaysia's
modernist
facade.
0
the other hand,
Yee 1-Lann's
Sulu
Stories
feature
a
series
of
digital
montagescreated
using pictures
she shot
of
the
region
andthe
images
she
bought
from
the
national archives.
As
aSabah-bornMalaysian, Sulu-
sandwichedbetweenthe southern
Philippines
and
EastMalaysia-isYee's
area
of
darkness.
The
Philippinesclaimsjurisaiction
overthe
islands
but
in reality,
the
identity
of
the
region,
where
different histories merge
and
colli
de
-
is
muchmore
complex.
The
area,
shut off
from
the world
for
the past
30years, is mainly Islamic,
whereas the
Phil
ippines
is
predominantly
Catholic.
The
arrival
of
Europea
ncolonists
added
to the
volatility
of
the
issue as British,Spanish,
and
Dutch
interests divided
the
region.
However
, "colonization"through
econom
ics
came
much
earlier
when
Chinese merchants started trading in
the
area
about
a
thousand
years
ago,
while
their Arabiccounterparts"coloniz
ed
"
by
religion.Yee,34,is
one
of
themost
excit
ing
young
artists
currently
working
in
SoutheastAsia.
Her
series
was
produced
for ArtConneXions,a
recentresidency
initiated
by
the Goethe
lnstitut.To negotiate
the
complexity
of
the
region,
she
tried
to
"
enter
"Sulu
through
myths
and
memo
ries.
When
her
residencystarted
in
March2005,Yee,
who
functioned
like
a re
searcher
,
spent
aconsiderable timetalking
to
people
from Sulu, poring
throughrelated
materials
at
Manila'sFilipinianaHeritageLibrary,
and
the
Sabah StateMu
seum
and
State Archives in KotaKinabalu.She
learned about
the
Tau-tau islands,
where
locals place effigies
of
illnessessothat malaria
or
fever
can
be
keptaway
.She
read about the
Bajau people,
who
livetheir lives
on
the
reefs
and
move
onto the
islands to die, their graves facing
the
direction
of
Mecca.In
theend,
Yee's images
were
a
product
of
a mental
editin
; , h ~
ess
o
l;y
hatshesaw
phY
sJCa
!ly
and
-
-
2 1
~
she
found
in
the records.But, although
she
wasn
Ot
ne
cessarilyinterested
in
depictin_gthe
l
~
al
reaHy
of
Sulu,
she
was
drawn
by
the
mood and
temperament
of
it.
"
When you
do
a
Goog
ie
on
Sulu,
there
is
so
little info,as
though
it
is
an
area
which
has fallen
off the map,
"saysYee,
who
has exhibited in
Asia,Australia,
and
Europe."
And
yet, it is
an
area
where
all
themetaphors
of
the
modem
world
can
be
found
.
As
far as I'm
concerned
,globalizationstarted
inthe
15th
century
,right
here
in Sulu."
Of
course,
there are manyphotographersaroundthe world
who
are
still excited
by
the notion
of
photography
as adiscipline to
document
literal reality.Some
of
Eric Peris's
peerscontinue
to
work
rig
orously
in this direction.
One
is ChanKinWah,43,
whose
series,
Reality,
of
black
and-whitehand-printed
images
on
"the
disappearing
lifestyles
and
communi
ties"
Yee
1-Lann,
Sarang,
from
Sulu Stories,
2005, digitalprinton Kodakprofessionalpaper.Yee
1-Lann,
Sarong
,
from
Sulu Stories,
2005, digital print
on
Kodakprofessionalpaper.
88
ASIAN
ART
NEWS
NOVEMB
ER/DECEM
BE
R 2005

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