Alum sees how photography develops in Kuala Lumpur show
K. Azril Ismail (Media Studies Still-Based, 2001) co-curated Bayangnya itu Timbul Tenggelam: Photographic Cultures in Malaysia, on view in Ilham Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia through the end of 2020. The exhibition’s title, which translates to “appears and recedes from view,” nods to the cultures that developed around photography and its relationship to Malaysia, dating back as far as 1841, when a person named Munshi Abdullah (known as the father of modern Malay literature) first encountered a photographic image of Singapore in 1841. This exhibition, curated by Ismail, and two collaborators—Hoo Fan Chon and Simon Soon—explores how photography was used, collected, and displayed in Malaysia, and how photography shaped Malaysia’s visual narrative.
The wide-ranging exhibition features more than 1,400 photographs and artifacts. Those include studio portraits of individuals and families dating from the early 20th century to the 1980s, a photo diary of studio portraits that record the gender transformation of a transgender woman in 1950s Penang, the use of collage technique to produce a new form of royal genealogical record in early 20th century Malay printed publications, and early 20th century picture postcards.