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Immortalising sights and sounds of Kampung Baru

WHILE working as a photographer with The Star for six years, one of Kamal Sellehuddin’s favourite hangout spots was Kampung Baru, a traditional Malay kampung in the heart of the Klang Valley.

The sole traditional Malay village in urban Kuala Lumpur, Kampung Baru was originally founded in 1900, having been sectioned off by the British as Malay agricultural land.

The traditional houses, warung and shophouses still stand strong more than a century later, with modern architecture such as the Petronas Twin Towers and other skyscrapers, forming a stark, contrasting backdrop.

Tourists checking out one of Kamals favourite photos from his ethnographic study of Kampung Baru – a shot of kampung houses with the Petronas Twin Towers shrouded by the haze in the background.
Tourists checking out one of Kamal's favourite photos from his ethnographic study of Kampung Baru – a shot of kampung houses with the Petronas Twin Towers shrouded by the haze in the background.

However, the village also sits on prime land, and as more and more village lots are sold to developers, Kamal was prompted to pick up his camera and start documenting Kampung Baru’s life, before it disappears into modernity.

“I was out of the country from 2009, and when I came back to Kuala Lumpur, many of the places I used to hang out with my friends in Kampung Baru had ceased to exist,” said Kamal.

Kamal then began visiting Kampung Baru during his free time to take photographs.

The nasi lemak vendor featured in this photo, known only as Kak Chu, spoke to Kamal about how some residents had simply taken up on the offers for their land, which included many of her own peers.
The nasi lemak vendor featured in this photo, known only as 'Kak Chu', spoke to Kamal about how some residents had simply taken up on the offers for their land, which included many of her own peers.

Residents, whom he befriended, also invited him to document the events taking place within their community, which ranged from weddings to Ramadan events such as the distribution of bubur lambuk.

“One of my favourite items to photograph was portraits of the kampung residents, where you can see the blend and contrast of modern and traditional,” said Kamal.

Kamal started documenting Kampung Baru when he discovered that many of his favourite hangout spots had ceased to exist in the traditional Malay village.
Kamal started documenting Kampung Baru when he discovered that many of his favourite hangout spots had ceased to exist in the traditional Malay village..

As an example, Kamal points to a portrait of a young man with a mohawk hairstyle, yet the subject is standing in what looks like a traditional Malay house, with a wooden window pane featuring coloured frosted glass.

The man’s fingers sport several rings with large stones and thick silver bands, which are traditionally worn by Malay men, especially the older generation.

 

Another composition that highlights the stark contrast between Kampung Baru and other parts of the city – a photo ofa demolished kampung house with the Petronas Twin Towers looming in the background.
Another composition that highlights the stark contrast between Kampung Baru and other parts of the city – a photo of a demolished kampung house with the Petronas Twin Towers looming in the background.

Another photo captures creeping modernisation, with a “For Sale” sign prominently displayed in the foreground, while the KL Tower and other parts of the central business district seen in the back.

“In a way, the contrast between urban and kampung is so blatant and in your face, you cannot avoid capturing it,” said Kamal, as visitors to KL Sentral’s Transit Gallery peer at a night shot of the Petronas Twin Towers.

The juxtaposition of modern and traditional elements is inevitable when one photographs scenes in Kampung Baru, such as this traditional kampung house that stands against the background of modern high-rises.
The juxtaposition of modern and traditional elements is inevitable when one photographs scenes in Kampung Baru, such as this traditional kampung house that stands against the background of modern high-rises.

The towers are framed on both sides by traditional wooden houses and a couple of youths are seen riding on a motorbike, all shrouded by the haze.

Currently, this is just the first flight of photographs being exhibited by Kamal.

“I must have done a few hundred shots throughout 2015 till now,” he laughed, adding that there would be more photos put up for future exhibitions.

Kamal’s photo exhibition on Kampung Baru runs until Oct 7, at Transit Gallery, Unit 10 & 11 (opposite the KLIA Express Arrival Hall), KL Sentral, Kuala Lumpur. The gallery opens from 10am to 6pm.

Sumber: The Star

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Kemaskini Terakhir: Mac 23, 2017 @ 4:43 pm

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