Based in the sunny island of Penang in northern Malaysia, OBSCURA Festival of Photography is Malaysia’s premiere photography festival centred around storytelling through the photographic medium. An independent festival entering its 7th year, OBSCURA Festival is a platform for photographers to share their stories, messages and ideas with each other and the public in the spirit of conviviality and collaboration.

Through photography exhibitions and public engagement via artist and curator talks, OBSCURA Festival aims to bring awareness to a number of contemporary issues happening worldwide in the hopes of foster a mature, thoughtful and critical photographic community, who will form the catalyst in creating a similarly robust society. OBSCURA Festival partners with various organisations and agencies such as Goethe-Institut, The Japan Foundation and the US Embassy to bring together leading photographers and editors from around the world to give presentations, conduct masterclasses and curate exhibitions.

This year, OBSCURA Festival’s theme is ‘Subculture’. As globalisation allows the cross-pollination of ideas, values and practices across the globe, so too had societies adapted and assimilated in return, creating new subcultures that can wildly diverge from its origin. This year. The OBSCURA Festival of Photography celebrates the various subcultures around the world, and examines their impact, role and influence into society today.

OBSCURA Festival is deeply committed to the nurturing of the practice and appreciation of photography in the Southeast Asian region through education in the form of photography masterclasses and workshops conducted by some of the most esteemed working photographers and editors today. Since 2013, OBSCURA Festival had conducted masterclasses and workshops to over 200 participants around the world, and it’s free-to-attend portfolio reviews are a highly anticipated event.

Over the period of a year between 2016-2017, OBSCURA also hosted the inaugural Southeast Asian Masterclass. The masterclass is a collaboration between OBSCURA Festival and Goethe-Institut to bring together some of the most promising young photographers from the Southeast Asian region under the tutelage of photographers from the Ostkreuz Photographers’ Agency, Berlin. The resulting work, titled We Will Have Been Young is a photobook made in collaboration with Calin Kruse from dienacht-Publishing. The photo exhibition and book has since been exhibited in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines and soon, in Frankfurt, Germany.

Recognising the need to encourage the practice of photography in Malaysia and to have more photographic works produced within Malaysia, OBSCURA Festival also holds a residency program, where past artists in-residence include Arko Datto (2016) and Peter Bialobrezski (2018). OBSCURA Festival’s artist in-residency programme, combined with its masterclasses and workshops had produced a culturally, socially and historically significant repository of photographs which are invaluable as a living documentary of Penang and George Town. OBSCURA Festival of Photography is proud to welcome Jörg Brüggeman and Tobias Kruse as artists in-residence for its third edition of the programme in 2019.

© Elliott Koon. All rights reserved.

“With an ethos rooted in education and togetherness, OBSCURA functions as a platform to disseminate Asian photography through exhibition programs, workshops, and open dialogues. Presenting some of the most esteemed artists working in the photography industry, the festival can be viewed as a conduit for building partnerships and networks between photographers, galleries, collectors, and all other channels that promote and publicize the photographic medium.”

- Simon Hall, Photographic Museum of Humanity