Saturday, December 20, 2014

Past Forward From Woman: Body, Identity and Emotion Series

Past Forward from Woman : Body, Identity and Emotion Series

This project began when I noticed that I look different in my ID photos.

These IDs photos are images when I was 12 to 31 years old.

Early 2014, I started questioning what does it mean to be a woman in relation to my body, emotions and identity. 

This image was submitted for the KLPA 2014 Competition but I've since reshot this photograph after attending the Mt Rokko Photofestival in Kobe August,2014.
The series of self portraits has also expanded from 5  photos to 10 after attending Jörg Brüggemann workshop at Gallery Petronas in October 2014.

There are still many questions that I have and exploring in this series. Hopefully this project will be completed by mid June 2015 as I am already thinking of another project which I am itching to start.

Friday, September 19, 2014


Another old building sold. We walked through the gates and explored the grounds. Excitedly ooo-ing and ah-ing at switches and learning wiring in the 70s. Sadly acknowledging that all these forgotten beauties will be razed for another hi rise in Kuala Lumpur city. We stared at the spreading banyan tree which the owner left to grow. So much beauty gently rising with passing years.Snappily run down by the minute call of modernism.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Living in Happy Mansion and spacing home

I am grateful for the little incidences living in the entire space in Happy Mansion that makes beautiful stories. 
- The clicking of mahjong every Friday on the 3rd floor and the old uncles with their leash little Paris Hilton dogs which is such a contrast from the expected. One of the little furry chin hua hua is name "Mah Lau Quai" (Monkey Ghost).
- There is a beautiful lady whom always shout. We hardly chat when I first moved in. I wasn't happy and so was she. She lives under the stairwell with her teenage son and 4 year old child. She is a lot happier now cause she is working in the Thai restaurant and has a whole kitchen crew taking turns playing with her son. While I play with the child's kitten when I see it coming back from work. In the mornings heading to work I have 2 other kittens in the uncle and aunty's office to say good morning to.
- As I climb up the steps with a container of lunch from the economy rice shop just a minute walk away, I see aunty chasing uncle laughing. I thought to myself "so cute, old d can playing catching some more"....turns out they were chasing the kitten. I still have the scene of aunty chasing uncle entrenched in my memory. It was a beautiful sunny day and they both have smiles that reminded me of children.
3. The room I rent comes with a balcony by the living room. The previous tenant apparently use to have barbeque sessions with a makeshift grill and planted jasmine and another white sweet smelling plant which the tenant left. I love these plants that are remnants of happiness and inspired me to compost and grow seedlings (so far Indian borage, ulam rajah, groundnuts (with harvest) and little hill rice seedlings which didn't make it through the hacking in the garden outside the house.
This balcony has host many solidarity moments to hear ones banter in the mind, as well as many meetings of different minds.Thanks for the lively balcony moments everyone.

1.The internet is a bulging load of information, I am grateful for online learning, the ease of communication and search engines. While I have sweet memories of pre-Internet era of writing letters and reading in libraries, I must say that having information at the finger tips far outweigh the business of being online. I just have to try very hard to have a Internet "blackout".
2. I am grateful for facebook even with the ethical issues surrounding facebook, Because of facebook I am aware of Bersih and Lawyers for Liberty which gave me the guts to attend the Bersih 2.0 rally. Also the excitement and frustration mounting, looking at facebook pictures of the first Bersih rally. I was in the States then.
3. I am grateful for the Bersih movement. I grew up with my dad always saying that we have relatives in Singapore and Australia, don't worry. Living in Malaysia and feeling frustrated with all the coffee talk about how corrupted politicians and businessmen are always ends with "Ape boleh buat" quipped by my cynical follow on of "Malaysia boleh mah" Bersih cleaned up the hopeless oppression of status quo and fear of being arrested.

1. Techie gratefulness - I am grateful for inheriting this iPhone which means having a camera, voice recorder,and access to wifi on hand. The calender gets me organize so I can keep track of dates. The alarm is a bonus when I need a snooze.
2. Living gratefulness - There are no natural disasters and a range of culinary delights that could keep me entertain forever in Malaysia.Because I am so grateful for living on land that is abundant, I will always go to protest and rally against corruption, injustice and powers that rape the land. The current political landscape needs to change for the better.
3. Family - I am grateful to be born in a family where my dad stayed home to look after us and my mother is the breadwinner. Hence shaping me to be an individual that is aware that both men and women face discrimination and all thing unjust. Easier if we see everyone as living brings..

Monday, September 08, 2014

Mt.Rokko Portfolio Review Feedback – Lim Paik Yin

Published on blog on photography

Photo by Naohiko Tokuhira

A plethora of thoughts on one’s work could cause a mild concussion. Left unresolved, gives way to a splitting headache. Here is a little guide to ease the pangs of insecurities and host of questions before a portfolio review.

What is a portfolio review ?

One of the reasons of showing your work in prints is to give an overview of your entire project to the reviewers. At best you could get a different perspective of your work. Having the flexibility of loose prints on hand allows the reviewers to edit the work. Think about it this way, a portfolio review can be a space to further push the photography series to another level or it could be a mini interview for your work to get published or shown in a public arena.

Printing the digital images

The first time I held the prints from my Fujifilm 5100 in 2011, excitement weld up despite having seen the images on screen numerous times. There was no thought about paper texture nor colour calibration. Looking back it was a process that I had to go through. So the lessons that I learnt, it always pay to have the monitor calibrated to my regular printer.  After all the time spent editing on screen, it’d be a shame to have prints that is subpar.


Look into the crystal ball and imagine where your work is going to be shown. Once there is a clear idea of where your work would be shown, find out about the reviewers and think if your work would be beneficial from their perspective. A reviewer who comes from a gallery or art magazine views your work differently from a reviewer from a journalistic or documentary background. With multiple lens viewing your work, there is bound to be divergent viewpoints.

Being Reviewed

I’ve always found it easier to communicate through writing or photographs instead of talking about it. Somehow I get tense and stiff especially when there are a barrage of questions or suggestions. I learnt the hard way that it is important to be able to speak about the project as not all reviewers would read the written statement and sometimes what can seem to be a grilling session with reviewers is a process to delve deeper into the subject of the project. So to start with, I introduce myself, pass calling cards and give a short summary of the project that I am showing. In general about 2 or 3 lines. Nerves got to me on my first review and thankfully I wrote short notes with main points on each project. The notes was a good reminder on the points I wanted to highlight during the review especially since 20 minutes is all the time we have.

The 6 reviewers in alphabetical order are Didier Brousse, Yosuke Fujiki, Natalie Matutschovsky, Taj Forer, Takeki Sugiyama and Yumi Goto.

Works reviewed

I brought 2 working series with me to be reviewed, both still work in progress. The first set of photos were from work done at the Exposure+ Mentorship programme in early 2013. The documentary set is called Pockets of Verdure which explored the interactions of the residents of Klang Valley through their gardens in public spaces. Composition of the work was distinctly flat.

The second set of photographs is a set of self portraits exploring what it is to be a woman in relation to my own body and experience living in Malaysia.

Summary of review sessions

Pockets of Verdure – Composition can be worked on. Some reviewers appreciate the flat perspective and some do not. The idea of the work is interesting but visually it can be improved upon.

Self Portrait – Colours are nice but too few images to have a clear idea of what the project is about.  Lots of questions were asked ranging from the size the pictures to feelings about the projects. Since it is from the viewpoint of my ideas of what being a woman is about from the perspective of being a Malaysian, the work can be viewed differently in a different cultures. There were some suggestions on content and I found it helpful to move forward with the project.

Language – As the reviewers are from all over the world, English is not always the reviewer’s first language. There were instances where language was a barrier and some communication was lost in translation. Keep in mind to keep it simple in future.

Monday, August 04, 2014

No more doom and gloom.
Give me good news.
This is beyond nations taking sides.
This opinion piece brings me back to high school reflections on the claims of the superiority of the human species.
Pitting animals to fight for sport.
Separation between race, gender, status, exterior objects donned, nationalities etc
I'm glad within the past few months I've met many people, some passing through some in Malaysia,
who are solution oriented and hardly complain,
who are doing advocacy down to a personal basis but never imposing
who are sharing their stories in turn inspiring me
who are patient with other's shortcoming opening a space to work fluidly
who are just being themselves and hence have no need for you to be any other selves
most of all everyone I've had the chance to interact with is doing their utmost to balance living in the current system and contributing to a dream of a better world
4 more days to the national training and looking forward to working with the 3 of you smile emoticon
"This is bigger than Israel and Gaza. This is about what the humankind has learned about its own tendency to madness and how it needs to control it. This is about people losing their own sense of humanity and thinking that someone else deserves to die, and die horribly. This is about people desensitising themselves and trying to find justifications for that. This is about ringing the alarm about this trend and putting our good hearts before our political, national, ethnic or religious affiliations. If the people here, involved in the heat of the fighting, can't keep their minds cool, we outsiders have the responsibility to stay calm and help them to go back to humanity."
My reply to respected photographer Pedro Meyer, after he wrote: "So if you have Hamas, being not only cruel, but perverse as well, in using their kids and innocent people to advance their agenda, well then I say, SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES!"
I'm in Gaza. I was going to politely explain what's the situation here regarding the media and Hamas, so that you people could understand what are the real possibilities and the considerations of doing journalism in these conditions. This discussion emanates from a new twist in the information war, as all of a sudden, many people in different parts of the cyberworld started to denounce that we reporters here are a) biased or b) threatened with death by Hamas and so, unable to speak the truth. This is a planned propaganda campaign directed to create the perception that reports from Gaza aren't credible and in this way, deactivate the power of the images of civilian suffering that are damaging Israel's efforts.
I was also going to explain to you the explicit role of Israeli pre-censorship (did you know that, in order to be able to get the government's press accreditation, we have to sign a paper agreeing to accept what they call pre-censorship? There is a specific military department for this, and they don't hide it, it's on their webpage, you have to download it, print it and sign it before you get to their office in Jerusalem) and it's implicit one, as well as the harsh measures this system takes against rebellious journalists.
So, I was hoping to put some facts on the table for you to be informed when judging. But before, I wanted to get acquainted with your debate by reading all of your comments. Until I read this:
" So if you have Hamas, being not only cruel, but perverse as well, in using their kids and innocent people to advance their agenda, well then I say, SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES!"
That was Pedro Meyer. A man I've admired and followed as an artist --must admit I never looked into his political opinions but then I didn't know he was outspoken on that.
In a man like him, you admire his human sensibility, expressed in art.
And thus I'm still shocked and appalled by such a statement. He can believe that the state of Israel needs security and still understand and feel for people suffering unnecessary pain. He's never been here to see it, but it is our role to put it out there for you to know. He doesn't want to and has chosen to dismiss our work as propaganda. As if the children weren't dying, as if the Israeli's weren't bombing schools, and as if pregnant women weren't being killed.
Just before that, he stated: Hamas has "imposed their will upon their civilian population". I agree with him. Yet, how can you not feel empathy for those who suffer under Hamas and then are horribly blown to pieces by Israel. In the 2006 elections, Hamas won 44% of the vote. A plurality. That means that 56% of the people didn`t vote Hamas. And that's a figure 8 years old. How many times have the Israelis changed their political preferences since then?
But even if you somehow thought that most Palestinians support Hamas, how does that justify attacks on civilian houses? Because the son is a Hamas member, you will blow up everybody in the familiy? That's agains the Geneva conventions, an international understanding only reached after Europe spent 200 years destroying itself and the bleeding countries realised the next time would be the last one, and that barbarism could not be accepted any longer.
As the memories of the world wars fade, people are forgetting those very hardly achieved learnings. The Israeli army is barbaric as are the Israeli policies. Hamas is barbaric too, horribly. But there's someone here whose barbarism is a lot mightier and causing a lot more pain.
You don't want to accept what your eyes see. You are debating pictures of fighters when people are being reduced to ashes. I just went to this man's house, a man targeted because he was respected in his community and Israel wants to take out all leaders. But he wasn't Hamas, he was an old, retired PLO member, and if you do memory, the PLO are the good Palestinians, according to Bibi, right? I went to his house and I saw his children removing bits of his flesh from the walls. A drone, operated by some 19 year old guy away in Israel, smashed him with a rocket.
This is bigger than Israel and Gaza. This is about what the humankind has learned about its own tendency to madness and how it needs to control it. This is about people losing their own sense of humanity and thinking that someone else deserves to die, and die horribly. This is about people desensitising themselves and trying to find justifications for that. This is about ringing the alarm about this trend and putting our good hearts before our political, national, ethnic or religious affiliations. If the people here, involved in the heat of the fighting, can't keep their minds cool, we outsiders have the responsibility to stay calm and help them to go back to humanity.
I know Israel quite well. I have seen Jews putting themselves at risk, and even sacrificing themselves, to protect Palestinians. Some of them are dear friends of mine. With them, we've thought a lot about the achievements of Israel and it's failures. A society that is so full of hate, where Sharon, the killer of Sabra and Chatila, used to be considered the far right, but then he was outflanked by Netanyahu, who himself was outflanked by Lieberman, who himself has now been outflanked by Bennett (everytime moving further right to Fascism), is not what Theodor Herzl dreamed, not even what Ben Gurion or Golda Meir (themselves statespeople who took very tough decisions) dreamed, but far from that. It is a society that has the seed of self-destruction as a result of its ethnocentrism and it's choice for violence. A society formed by the Israeli army, which shapes the minds of every Israeli man (3 years) and woman (2 years) during the military service. I've witnessed it. Shovrim Shtika, an association of army veterans, has explained how this works.
People are publishing in mainstream newspapers articles with titles like "when genocide is permissible", calling to wipe out all Palestinians. I wouldn't like my children to grow up there. Many people don't. So they're leaving. In numbers so big that, as opposed to aliyah ("ascent", Jewish immigration to Israel), they've coined the term yeridah ("descent") for those who can't stand this anymore. Which in turns helps to keep this society's erosion as it's most sensitive people leave.
These are dark times. Since 9/11, we seem to be going down. We're risking going back to times where everything is accepted. Where the madness of my enemy is the justification for my madness, his brutality for my brutality. Times where we stop seeing each others as humans and start calling others cokroaches, as the hutus did with the tutsis in 1994. We risk de-learning, involution to stages when we could write in a public forum "well then I say, SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES!"
This is the link to Pedro's original post and the following debate

Friday, August 01, 2014

The Working Man

Title : The Working Man
Year : 2012

Each chapter of our life is transitory.

Domechai sells noodles and chicken rice by a Wat in Chiang Mai,Thailand.
The week before he was a monk in Bangkok,Thailand.

When we walk by a person we associate human beings to an occupation.
The person is devalued to a status.

Poetry captions the images

The images of Domechai in Chiang Mai is photographed by the artist
The images of Domechai’s past life as a monk were provided by Domechai.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

An encounter with Living Death

Its been a while since I published my experiences. A spate of meetings this year has reminded me that its ok to be personal. 

Its been a while since personal stories are shared, be it about family or oneselves. Thank you for asking, sharing and listening even if our meetings are brief, or it has been sometime since we last met.

                                       This is about an experience with a family. 
                                                   A harvest of year 2008-2014.

~~---~--A sticky cloy scent peppers the air with a hint of a degeneration.
                                                                                        An encounter with Living Death

                                                   Early 2004 or 2005,

                                    I got news that my grandmother was ill. 
                            Pangs of rushed unfulfillment zips in front of my eyes.

                            I want my grandmother to be at my wedding,
                            I want my grandmother to see her my firstborn,
                            I want my grandmother to still spoil me again.

                                                     I started praying 
                                                   signals of pleadings
                                            Just a little more time please.

                                                                                                               My 2 single aunts 
                                                            who are looking after my grandmother lost a lot of 
                                    At one point I remember, one of my aunt, had that smell about her 

Some how, who knows how many 
                                                                                                    months later she got better.
                                                           How do I know?

                 The smell was gone.

                               I see my grandmother struggle with not being "useful"
                                I see my grandmother the matriarch being confused                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
Roles were reverse, 
                                she didn't call the shots anymore
The starched ironed clothes imperfectly neat
                                                                     The floors clean but unbleached

I touched down Malaysia after 18th months in the States,
I walk behind papa up the stairs

He climb up with 1 hand on one knee
left or right I can't remember
My dad is growing old
He will leave me someday

                                 I started to get to know Lee Chin Tee
A woman working for herself in the 80s, a mother, the breadwinner in my family
                                I resented my mother but Lee Chin Tee
an entrepreneur, an embracer of change and a woman who stuck by our family 

through all, I got my strength and determination...and come to think of it probably my playfulness, being outspoken and a host of oddities

My grandmother is still alive,
                                                    so are my parents.

I don't have a full time job because my goal wasn't to make money.
My goal was to get to know my mother, Lee Chin Tee
I won't resent her when I have to look after her.
2 months back, a thought, a feeling came about
                               I hit my goal :D

Yea mummy still annoys me at times, but we can laugh it away together
Yea papa can talk non stop but I can tell him about my day too
Yea I do want a full time job now :D

Grandma I still don't know fully what to do.
She doesn't remember me. She thinks I am someone else,
Today she can't really see much,
And you kinda have to semi shout in her ear.

At lost,in 2011 when I met you,
You told me just hold her hand.

I forgot about touch.
I never hug or kiss my grandmother
after hitting the teens

Thanks Jah Nah

                                                           Through it all
                                                           The encounter with living death
                                                           Brought me to pieces on my own mortality                                                                                     
 I was stiff and staunch holding my breath.
                                                                                                        finding a balance with systems, ideals, and "reality"

Yea la resolving my issues la

To end it all
Just want to say
thank you big and small

cause in some ways
you helped me

remember to be personal, showing the sanctuary when all is noisy in my head, laughing together, sharing your world, giving me silence,
reminding me I am not (insert whomever XYZ is), teaching me the (ABC) and answering all my questions, being an unknowing comfort, supportive, teaching me acceptance, listening to me, putting up with mood swings and me going into my batcave mode, to be comfortable with myself....


                                                         without words,
                                               knowing my own small dance
                                             and balancing with each of you
                                      be it gentle brushings or full on weights
                                                 Thanks for the reminders                                                                                 
                                                          to be in touch

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


What is the cause of this?
A. Media's portrayal of women and hence we are constantly exposed to a woman of a certain age, body type and skin colour. This includes porn.
B. There are products out there that can help you look younger, fairer, thinner so why not.
C. There are clothing to tuck your tummy, push up your boobs, make your legs longer
D. Read my comments below

Friday, July 04, 2014

Suspended tension in different degrees.
'Nobody Claps Anymore' by Alec Dawson as a whole gives me the same sensation as an Edward Hopper painting.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

These are the moments to pause

These are the moments to pause

Yvette Monahan’s Photographs From ‘The Time Of Dreaming The World Awake’ Are Magical

Monday, May 12, 2014

Remedios Varo

I went to Mexico City to visit Frida Kahlo. She was doing a tour in Europe. 
I met Remedios Varo in a book shop on my last day with a cup of hot chocolate.
Beyond falling in Love, her artwork brought me back to a time when all is quiet and dreams meld into many worlds that flickers of a reality felt

A website dedicated to Remedios Varo

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Kinesphericals will perform Sunday, 27 April, 2014 at 6:25pm at DPAC Arts Festival.

Monday, March 24, 2014


Home is a state of mind
manifest in the physical.
Walking through the door
A step away 
Into the corridor
to the room
The day's clamps relinquished.
The room is sporadic
Piles of books clothes strewn,
but all in good time.
Music is playing
gently sways the musts
A moth flits about as I type this.
As it settles in a space above me,
a deep breathe of welcoming myself home.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

There is a pause in the daily. Waiting at the airport and the tingling anticipation of experiencing a country. Will be in Hanoi in 3 hours for training with IWRAW