Born In Malaysia

Two photographers with different aesthetics come together for an eye-opening exhibition.

Meet Jeffrey Lim, a photographer who shoots black and white photographs in an old school postcard camera that he built himself. Having been in the photography scene for more than 10 years, the inventor was inspired to create his own camera from scratch using only waste material after watching a documentary on homemade cameras in Afghanistan.

“When I saw the documentary I fell in love with the movement that the artists there were undertaking using very basic everyday material. They called it the ‘living form of photography’ and that was as raw as photography could get. As my passion is darkroom photography, I decided that that was what I wanted to do as it merges photography and darkroom together in one box,” says Jeffrey.

The first prototype came to be in 2012 and Jeffrey’s project quickly gained the name Kantabox Kamra. He has built seven prototypes since, with the 7th one being the biggest one yet, potentially the biggest of its kind, albeit being made out of basic waste that comprises a handmade camera and lots of garbage bags.

“You see, making the camera is fairly simple. All you need to have is the basic understanding of photography. If you hold a magnifying in front of a tracing paper, while aiming at the light, you will get an image. Add that to a light-sensitive special paper containing silver, so that when the light hits the paper the silver in it turns black, and you will get a photo on that paper,” explains Jeffrey.

Once the cameras were built, it was time to look for subject matters. That’s when he came to pick the theme ‘People of Kuala Lumpur.’ He then opened shop, so to speak, at artisanal markets in the city where curious people of KL had the opportunity to be a part of the project by finding out how the unique cameras function as well as receive their pictures on the spot.

Next, Jeffrey plans to head to the interiors and islands of Malaysia with his camera in tow, to fully flesh out a series themed ‘Identities of Malaysia.’ This year he has his sight set on Miri as well as Tamparuli, where he plans to set up at a local market called tamu. The best part about his cameras? They turn into a backpack in less than five minutes!

The digital to Jeffrey’s analogue is Kenny Loh, the creator of Born In Malaysia movement. Both photographers have joined forces owing to their similar subject of the ‘People of Kuala Lumpur.’

The idea to create the Born In Malaysia photobook and the exhibition came to Kenny when he came back to Malaysia after being abroad for almost two decades, and seeing how Malaysia has changed. With his work, he aims to remind Malaysians of generations past as well as educate younger citizens of how the nation was once upon a time.

While Jeffrey only talks to his subjects after taking their photos, Kenny actively seeks out suitable personalities that have interesting and inspiring stories for the rest of the Malaysians.

Born in Malaysia runs from now until Sunday, 11 June 2017 at Ruang by Think City. There will also be a talk and walkthrough of the exhibition at 2pm on 10 and 11 June 2017 by both Kenny Loh and Jeffrey Lim. Not to be missed!

Vimal Palasekaran

Vimal Palasekaran

Loud laugher. TV buff. Hispanophone.
Vimal Palasekaran

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