BlogPhotography Painting Exhibitions Projects Victor Chin Portfolio

The traditional wooden houses with attap roof at one time in Kg Hakka Mantin. The attap roofs had been replaced with zinc ones over time but the form and use of these houses continue even today. But many had been abandoned by the owners recently due to insecurity of land rights. This is another case of the rights of the citizen to stay vs the rights of private and state rights to developed at any price.

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My new series of digital drawing of the traditional vernacular wooden homes in Kampung Hakka Mantin. These early buildings were built by experienced carpenter/builders, before the days of the architects. There is a native spirit of geometric simplicity and clarity about these basic house forms. Using mainly local materials these structures are adapt to the tropical conditions and all the basic needs of the residents and their families. Early example of sustainability with a low carbon foot print. This series of drawings has been inspired by Sharon Chin’s recent drawings of the people and homes in Kg mantin.

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Peter Tan with his mother.

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Relatives and friends at Peter Tan’s mother funeral.

Peter Tan and his wife Wuan and I will be having a exhibition of photos from 17 to 30 August 2009 at the KLPac.

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My pictures of my mother going into hospital and then she ‘disappeared’ there.

What is death? This is a question that confronts everyone as it is at the heart of humanity.  There are those who believe that after death, there is nothing, and there are those who believe it is the exit to another life. But the real answer is finally unknowable – for no one has been there and come back to tell us what it is.

What may survive after death are memories, some of which are concretized in photographs. Photography has a tremendous power to preserve private memories and perpetuate the ‘life’ of a departed one. They record moments and emotions that can be revisited by the person looking at them.

Not easy to empathize

March 14th, 2009

The ability to understand someone else’s feelings as if they were one’s own is not something we do easily and often. It is demanding and thankless. Perhaps that may explain why most of us are mainly concerned with the needs our own self and those of our immediate family. How others feel is hardly our interest. How about considering some empathy?

My exhibition of photos Empathy at KLPac closed on the 8 March. This third collection of images of people with disability doing their own thing in sports and in work, was on display for 7 weeks. During that time there were several write ups about the exhibition and one of the portraits of Siti Aishah made it to the front page of the Sunday People in the NST’s Sunday Times.

This media coverage of the disabled group gave all those people in this small and fragile community a much needed visual profile which they seldom get. The Star newspaper’s writer Tan Karr Wei also wrote about the portraitures with understanding.

Then there was Elaine Lau from the Option of the Edge who also gave a voice to this often voiceless fellow citizens. Ng Suzhen from the Malay Mail was the first to put this story in her CyberSpot page. The Chinese press too especially the writer Chee Nyuk Yan from Nanyang Siang Pau gave this group a center spread in their Sunday edition and this was followed by Sin Chew Daily‘s reporter Ten Yien Hsia’s news of the event. I was also invited to talk about the exhibition on TV3’s Malaysia Hari Ini morning magazine show.

After all the effort of first going out to get the cooperation of all my disabled friends to allow me to photograph them, and then to mount and promote the visibility of the subject to a larger public, it had dawn on me that this project of promoting a little more empathy for others, has been all a group effort by everyone who has been involved. This is also a note of thanks to all of you. Now I am beginning to understand.

A view of the exhibition with some visitors

Justin Hughes visiting

Lee Hong Leng taking a closer look

This exhibition has been on for a few weeks and it had many visitors. Justin Hughes, an old friend from the 80s, was one of the first visitors.  He was in Kuala Lumpur for a short visit after attending an International Law conference in Singapore. Justin is currently a Law Professor in New York.

Lee, a fellow photographer and partner of a photographic lab that printed all my prints, was also at the show to share his experiences about photography. It has been his continuing support and encouragement, over the years, that has made it possible to continue this social documentary project.