Art Visual

Two Mountains Photography Project: The Parallels of Iconic Mountains in M’sia & Japan

An exhibition by KLPA events and KLEE, INC PARIS TOKYO with support from HP DesignJet, PhotoMedia, Aēsop, and Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur; Two Mountains Photography Project captures iconic landmarks heralded in society’s psyche as kings of nature and landscape, Mount Fuji in Japan and Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia. The exhibition will showcase the works of six artists from 24th November 2018 to 27th January 2019 at Level 3, Ilham Gallery.

From the stark, black and white silhouettes of the jagged rocks and the emptiness of tall grass; Mount Kinabalu seems like a dystopian world through the camerawork of photographer, Mikio Hasui who is assigned under Two Mountains Photography Project to capture what the highest mountain in the Malay Archipelago means as a model.

Source: Atsushi Okuyama.

Atsushi Okuyama and Yuki Morita are the other Japanese photographers in the project who’d taken on the assignment to situate their creative gaze upon not only the mountain itself but the people who reside around the area (Atsushi was even invited to a wedding in Sabah and had showcased the photo of the young couple at the joyous event). Similar to an exchange program, Nadirah Zakariya, Nana Safiana and Stacy Liu are the three Malaysian photographers sent to photograph Mount Fuji in Japan in their own attempt to understand the active volcano famously known by the dwellers of the area as “Fuji-san” (the Japanese citizens observe the mountain as a person).

Source: Nadirah Zakariya.
Source: Nadirah Zakariya.

“I thought what if Mount Fuji is a person? What will you tell him? So I decided what if the people in the town can write a secret message to Mount Fuji and that was the premise of my project. I asked them the same question regarding the mountain and photographed them,” Nadirah Zakariya described what her portraits were based on which are a series of town residents accompanied by their message to Mount Fuji in the form of penned letters and colourful postcards neatly framed and translated in the gallery, “Shooting with film trained me to really plan my shoot for this project which I used a digital camera instead. Even before the pictures are developed, I know that there is that one photograph, that one moment which I felt very connected to and ended up choosing it for the exhibition.”

Source: Nadirah Zakariya.
Source: Nadirah Zakariya.

Nadirah’s project which is entitled Fuji-san Love Letters not only illustrate Mount Fuji as this great figure in Japan but also humbling it by drawing an undeniable intimacy between the ancient terrain and mankind. Not only is there a calm acknowledgement of these monuments through these individuals who may be their first time laying their eyes upon the mountains (or even a revisit with a new mindset) but there is also an eeriness to the display that these peaks, even though separated by a great distance are sisters of each other.  The resemblance is also found among the people of these two places which further strengthens the culture and history of these countries.

Featured Image source: Nadirah Zakariya.

Find out more about this exhibition by heading to the Ilham Gallery website.


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