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Nadirah Zakariya launches first solo exhibition in Malaysia, ‘Girlhood’

YESTERDAY evening at the Avenue K branch of Leica, photographer Nadirah Zakariya revealed some of her photography to Malaysian guests. With canapes by Delicious, the two-hour event opened Nadirah’s brand new photography series, Girlhood.

Born and raised in Malaysia, the young photographer received her education at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology.

Nadirah has made a name for herself on the international circuit for a decade, and has had her works in publications such as The New York Times, NYLON and Dazed & Confused. At only 32, she’s already exhibited in London, Paris and San Francisco — her first solo exhibition, Daughters Ago, took place in New York in 2011.

The new series meanwhile is an extension of her New York display. Currently framed in the walls of this particular Leica store, Girlhood aims to capture the magic of sisterhood, and “explore the wonders of the relationship between sisters”.

The series features siblings and is marked by their ethereal visuals. Untitled, individual pieces show afro-haired girls, two sisters in headwraps holding out a pomegranate, and even a young albino girl under irridescent light. Haunting and psychedelic, Girlhood was motivated by Nadirah’s own family.

“My sisters are the motivation behind this work,” she proudly explained to attendees during a short presentation. “I wanted to show that strong bond and energy that sisters share through these photos.”

The launch also saw Nadirah share photos taken in Japan. After fourteen years, she returned to Haibara — the town she discovered photography — and revisited her foster family from an exchange program during her high school years. Titled Forget You Not, the mini-series features photographs, often with handwritten captions.

“The town hasn’t changed at all,” Nadirah mused, “the crooked painting on the wall is still crooked, and the very same kitchen I used to face during my year in Japan is still exactly the same, down to the fluorescent light bulb above the sink.”

These experiences and locations are documented in Forget You Not. From gifting friends orchids courtesy of her foster mother to having her first tea of the year with strawberries from the backyard, the journal-styled entries are stark contrasts from Girlhood. Shot under natural, Northern Hemisphere dayglow, Nadirah imbues them with a similar contemplative wonder.


Girlhood is her first solo display in Malaysia. Prior to the launch, only one photo was made available online from the series for the poster art. Utilising the Leica T Camera System for the series, Nadirah was pleased with the results despite her preferring to shoot on film.

“It was an easy transition from film to this camera because it’s still capable of picking up details and colours,” she spoke. “I like to shoot with natural lighting and I found this good for low-light condition and different lighting situations.”

The Leica T is the first in the Leica series to have touch screen features, and is made of solid metal. Girlhood took shape after Leica approached her with the camera and offered her a chance to exhibit her works in their store.

Nadirah’s photography will be on display throughout the month of June at Leica, Avenue K.

Find more information about the exhibition on Facebook and Nadirah Zakariya’s website!

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