That night was as good as it gets, not that I am getting laid in any other way though.

We followed the procession all the way to the main street in front of Chew Jetty. 
The big offering that is presented in front of Chew Jetty. The heat was intense even from distance. 

   A friend, Mr.Hasnoor, decided to show the way around Georgetown to find the best place to take pictures of the Chinese offering and the procession. It was tiring for everyone since we have been spending the rest of the day out in the city, and as for me, I have been walking non-stop around the town area up until the projection night at Hin Bus Depot.


Hanif is a friend that I met few years ago during IPA workshop few years ago along with Ms Shafina (who happen to have her face covered) that I met during the last KLPA Exposure+ exhibition at Publika.  This was taken after coming back from the Chew Jetty.

The next morning were meant to be spent to visit all the photo exhibition that is laid all over Georgetown. The list of all the exhibition is very impressive with Photography works coming from Europe, America, Africa, and even Malaysia. The list for the photo exhibition is as follows;

  • The 1% Show – Curated by Myles Little
  • Royal Malaysian Police – by Eiffel Chong (Sorry Eiffel, couldn’t make it)
  • What News of the Snake That Lost Its Heart In The Fire – By Arko Datto
  • The Immense Night – by Alisa Resnik
  • Paradise Right Here – Curated by Waswo X Waswo
  • Vertigo – by Gihan Tubbeh
  • Whiteout/Whitenoise – by Anne Nobleand Anna Brown
  • Everyday Africa – Curated by Peter Di Campo
  • Belonging – Curated by Daniel Boetker-Smith
  • West County – by Talia Herman
  • Rhymes of Eurasia – By Ikuru Kuwajima

   Before I went to the photo exhibition, I decided to attend the last talk for the International Photobook Show. When I got there, I was already exhausted from last night and decided to read all the photobook that I haven’t gone through yesterday instead. Unfortunately, this also mean that I didn’t listen to the sharing by the Photobook making participant on their project, which is interesting in many way but somehow I just found that the book on display is much more interesting especially the Black passport (which this time I spent more than 30 minute going through it and the beautiful infrared photograph taken by Ed Thompson, The Unseen.

Hanif was obviously tired from last night. 

   The first exhibition that I visit is the “Paradise Right Here” curated by Waswo X Waswo. For some odd reason, I only have it taken using my smartphone. The series is impressive and it speaks volumes when you had seen the prints being hanged outside the gallery. Rightly fitting for the narratives that they were trying to showcase, the choice of such print size justify the quality of the series as it try to show the strength of the subject that has to gone through life hurdles after overcoming a serious sickness.

The exhibition was done in a large space and the print were given proper distance from each other for a very good visual break. I should have took more picture of this. 

   The second exhibition would be the “Rhymes of Eurasia” by Ikuru Kuwajima. I happen to found it when I was looking for the toilet at INCH food bar during the International Photobook show. The series is impressive with all the panoramic picture shows the grandeur or rather the uniqueness of the  countryside of Central Asia and Russia. But as much as I find it interesting, I somehow feel that the location of the exhibition has somehow reduce the impact from the work itself. The arrangement of the prints seems random with prints is hang all over the eating area (probably so you could enjoy the exhibition while eating) while the interior lighting doesn’t do justice to the prints as it is very dim (my camera made the picture brighter), the space also feels a bit claustrophobic, just barely.

   The next visit is a bit tricky, not only I got lost despite the map in hand, I also happen to pass by the venue a few time. It is located in some empty shophouse near Lebuh Victoria and the only sign that tell that there is something being exhibited inside is the plastic chair with open metal shutter opening, plus some small Obscura Photo festival poster. I didn’t take any picture of the building facade though.

   One of the exhibition that I look forward to is the “What News of the Snake That Lost Its Heart In The Fire” by Arko Datto andThe Immense Night” by Alisa Resnik. 

   Both of the exhibition are held inside the same place. The space is worn out empty shop house with barely minimum finishing over the wall and floor. But at least the lighting was better and the emptiness of the entire space compliment well with the exhibited work, especially those by Alisa Resnik.

Upon entering the building, I was welcomed with a rather subdue picture of a white horse, the same picture that is used on Obscura Photo festival website and promotional material.

One of the first of many picture by Alisa Resnik. 
The quiet and rustic atmosphere suits well with entire exhibited material. 

Alisa Resnik series were entirely ‘dark’ with a rather cool cinematic feel to it that is accentuate with a mix of blurry and sharp photo. The entire idea seems to revolve around the mysterious and cold feeling of midnight where each photograph seems to raise more question as you go through it, neither does it feel restricted with a certain narrative either.

“These images materialize into projections of your memories and start living their own lives. They tell the stories for you, the stories you might think you’ve seen with your own eyes…becoming part of you, and you’re sentenced to return to them again and again.” – Alisa Resnik 

Arko Datto exhibition is certainly one of a kind. The prints were covered all over the wall which reminds me of ‘LOMO’ wall. The color is pretty interesting as well. 

   Apparently, there is a total of 97 photographs taken by Arko Datto being arranged in grid all over the space. It cover a rather huge space on the wall and going through all of it by myself takes times, but surely interesting in it’s own way. The idea seems to be done on purpose where it tries to create a confusing visual that befitting with the photographer ideal of seeing the people Penang in confused state. The blue hue combined with the strong flash binds the entire series together rather well.

“When it calls, we manifest. We rise from the undead. We slide out of our wet holes. We untwist our bodies from warmer bodies. Our pleasure oozes across the concrete like murder. Our lungs fill with the miasma of stale sex. We take stock of the rusty pipes and tungsten halls. Rub nitrogen from each other’s eyes as we consider these flimsy walls.

We take the stairs. The black sun beckons. We storm the high roofs of high rises as windows shatter on the floors below. We are those glass shards in free fall, screaming with joy as we slice into the belly of the rising tide. We spill out of these skeletons. Smoke rises from the calluses on our feet.

When it calls, they sing. The clouds in the sky sing a song to send skulls flying. We fly. We fuse. My
erstwhile selves sink into the deep. I turn to the smoldering sky.” – Arko Datto

   According to the exhibition statement, most of the picture were taken in the past 3 months of the artist stay under the Hotel Penaga Artist Residency programme in collaboration with Obscura photo festival. His work on Penang is  a nice reference for myself who is planning to do a photo project in Penang but certainly I won’t be trying something so flashy to begin with.

Overall, the entire photo festival program and activity was great. It was unfortunate that I was unable to visit all the exhibition due to time constraint but it was great to catch up with some old acquaintances that I met before during my previous photography event. Hopefully the next Obscura photo festival will feature something better or as interesting as it was this year, and I have more time for it.




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