Saturday, 20 July 2019, 3-4pm
Hikayat, 226, Lebuh Pantai (Beach Street), 10300 George Town, Penang
✆ +604 261 9001 / 8001
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George Town can be seen as a self-perpetuating repository of memories, especially so in places of worship, antique shops, flea markets, clan houses and some private residence. When I first moved to George Town in 2012, I had the habit to visit antique shops. During one of my visits, I chanced upon a collection of photographs of a young boy dated from 1950 to 1959, who religiously went to various photo studios in George Town to make a self-portrait. As the subject grew older, he started wearing make-up and cross-dressed in traditional costumes. Confronted by a decade long collection of someone’s personal photographic documentation during his formative years, I was both intrigued and intimidated by the nature of intimacy of these personal records. I started to investigate further to learn more about the subject in the photographs. Later I discovered the main subject's name was Ava who sadly passed on in 2017. Through introduction I've gotten in touch with Anita, who's been featured in one of the photographs, she was Ava's lifelong friend since junior school. I've been interviewing Anita to learn about what drove them to make these studio self portraits, the stories behind these images as she chronicles their bygone days in George Town since the 50s.


Hoo Fan Chon was born in 1982, Selangor and currently resides in George Town Penang, He makes art and sometimes curates. He is the co-founder and a member of an art collective – Run Amok based in George Town, Penang. He completed his BA photography at the London College of Communication in 2010 and has exhibited locally and internationally. He was selected as one of the participants for the Japan Foundation Asia Center Curators’ Workshop (2015-2017). He had also recently participated in No Man's Land Residency Project – Nusantara Archive in Taipei (2017). His practice explores taste as a cultural and social construct, how these value systems fluctuate as it migrates from one culture to another and the antithetical relationship between the mould and the casts; the dominant and the subservient; the privateer and the pirate. His works often involve investigating the process of cultural translation, in which attempts to translate or assimilate was made but at times result in an unexpected and incoherent manner.

image provided by the artist

image provided by the artist

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