Jalan Sultan, (detail) watercolour by Victor Chin
Jalan Sultan is one of the early streets of Kuala Lumpur. In the 1900s most of the buildings were mainly shophouses, whether single- or double-story. This confluence of the Klang and Gombak Rivers which we now know as Kuala Lumpur soon became the commercial centre of the then-Malaya which was under British rule.
The largest group of residents were the Chinese from China followed by the Indians from India. These groups of workers worked in the tin mines and later, the rubber estates. Many of these migrant workers later set up homes here.
The local Malays were mainly happy in their kampongs but soon many of them became civil servants in the colonial government offices in the towns. Lumpur is like many of the other Malaysian towns, built mainly on the wealth of the tin and rubber industries which were mostly owned by the European companies, the Sultans and a few local Chinese at one time. Most of the streets in the old business district were built between the two World Wars (1915 and 1945) when Malaya was the world’s largest producer of tin and rubber.
The fishing village along the Sasaran River.
Sasaran is one of the many small Chinese fishing villages by the river in the northern tip of Selangor. It’s about 10 km south from the biggest fishing village, Kuala Selangor.
Many of these traditional fishing communities are hardworking and frugal. Their lives are often limited to their surrounding villages. Most of these families are self-sufficient and their homes well-equipped with modern fittings.
Often, in many of these rural areas, there is air of the place being frozen in time, with no progressive social, political and industrial developments for a long time.
The exception is in Sasaran. This is the only fishing village in the whole country that has created an international arts festival.
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Paul Choo, a well known photographer/designer/blogger, was among the many hundreds of visitors to KLPac Open day on the 27 January and he walked round to the photography exhibition In the Face of Disability by Victor Chin.
What was written on his face as he gazed at the photos, which he had seen before displayed at Kimi Gallery, were many questions about photographers and their artworks. Pual perhaps may be thinking that this collection of images go beyond the normal range of pictures taken by todayâ€™s photographers that he had seen.
To him Victorâ€™s portraits of the disabled group is making him rethink the uses of photography and how photographers may need to find new stories to tell or find new angles to present an old story â€“ to show what is commonly hidden or over looked.
Hopefully, some of the visitors who came to this visual event may have seen an aspect of beauty in the human condition which they thought there was none.
Victor Chinâ€™s exhibition In the Face of Disability is now extended to the 29 Febuary 2008 at KLPac by popular demand.