First, a plug! Zedeck is reading some stories from his epic book-in-making this Saturday, 27 Oct at Seksan’s. Come witness this pre-birth. More info here.
(Btw, if you don’t know, Zedeck is my non-husband and fellow inhabitant of leaky magical house in Port Dickson. Oh, he is a writer. Rather a good one, I think.)
Now, a story for you. I’ll keep the words short, and let the photos tell it.
In 2005, I had my first solo exhibition, Boats & Bridges. Back then, Reka Art Space was a great little gallery in Kelana Jaya. It was run by Sek Thim, who was very supportive but tough-minded. He was the kind of mentor I needed at the time. I had just come back from overseas and was a bundle of nervous energy. People who spend a long time away have this thing called ‘returner-angst’. I had alot of that.
Department of embarrassing and devastating memories: the night before my exhibition opened, I found out the person I had been hopelessly in love with in Australia had found someone else. I was a wreck. Halfway through discussing some exhibition detail, I started blubbing. It wasn’t pretty crying either, where perfect tears creep slowly down your face. It was horrible, snot-everywhere sobbing. Sek Thim packed me off home and reassured me everything would be ok.
Opening night was a success. Many people came. All the works sold out. I got happy-sad drunk and cried to sleep when I reached home.
I always associate my pride and joy in that first exhibition with the memory of gut-wrenching desperate sorrow. They kind of balance each other on a scale in my mind.
The high of the high is measured by the depth of the low. This is how it is.
So much for keeping the words short. Sorry.
For the exhibition, I’d made these weird shapes by pouring plaster-of-paris into plastic bags, and then peeling the bag off once the plaster had hardened. They were so cute! They were like little animals, little grey THINGS made from gravity and weight.
After the exhibition, I had an overwhelming feeling of not wanting to hold on to the THINGS. I thought it would be nice to distribute the THINGS all over the city. My friend Nazim (an excellent photographer and filmmaker) agreed to come along on this art littering/adventure and take pictures.
So that’s what we did at some ungodly hour of the morning. We dropped the THINGS at roadsides, at my old secondary school, a shopping mall, a carpark, the National Art Gallery (gotta get in there somehow). We put some in Dataran Merdeka, where homeless people were sleeping under the Malaysian flag. The last stop was Reka. It was dawn. I left a big grey THING there for Sek Thim as a tribute to what he had helped me start.
Nazim brought two cameras. He shot mostly on the digital, but also handed me a roll of 35mm film at the end, which I forgot all about.
Last week, I found it lying at the bottom of a box. These photos were on the roll.
Seeing them is like drinking a fine, aged wine. Memories, colours, even certain smells, come washing over me in a strangely potent combination. I love how age has caused these ‘stretch marks’ over the images, like on a woman’s hips (well, MY hips, anyway).
My iphone does so many things. But it can’t do this.
Wouldn’t it be cool if we shot a roll of film every year and promised only to develop them at a certain point in the future? I imagine rows and rows of them sitting in a cupboard somewhere, waiting.
But in the meantime, we would have to make sure there was someone around to process them. There could be an instruction scroll, handed down from generation to generation. It would be like… that boy dude in Terminator. THE ROLLS. OF FILM. HELD HER DESTINITY.
*dun dun DUNNN*
I wonder if anyone found the THINGS and took them home?
P.S. – Looking to develop film in Malaysia? Someone has compiled a good list here. I processed mine at Fotosun, SS2 (they will scan the negatives and put them on a CD for RM12). I’m printing some of these out for an exhibition next month. Hands down the best place for professional, archival quality photographic prints is Photomedia in SS2.