OBSCURA Festival of Photography scores on diverse selection of works and activities

By Leonard Goh (freelance writer/Singapore)

The annual photography festival that takes place in Penang, Malaysia, displays a myriad of works from a dazzling selection of photographers

Photography festivals are a hit in Asia these days, with different countries playing host to such festivities either on an annual or bi-annual basis. The OBSCURA Festival of Photography is an annual affair that takes place in the town of Georgetown in Penang, Malaysia. As part of the George Town Festival 2016, this year’s installment of OBSCURA saw a good number of photo exhibition scattered over the island.

Taking place from 19th August till 31st August, the festival consists of not just print exhibitions, but also artist’s talks, portfolio reviews, slideshow viewing and master classes.

For print exhibitions, there are 11 shows. More notable ones include Royal Malaysian Police by Eiffel Chong, which is being shown in Malaysia for the first time. Paradise Right Here, by J. Shimon & J. Lindermann (curated by Waswo X. Waswo) was also a large scale exhibition that showcased the creative minds of the artistic duo. WhiteOut WhiteNoise by Anne Noble exhibits her works in a non-typical fashion, drawing inspiration from typography to flesh out the essence of her works.

Master Classes are helmed by some of the most respected photographers in Asia. Ian Teh directed participants in his Your Journey, Your Voice, Your Point of View documentary photography class, while VII photographer Sim Chi Yin led a class on Ground Up – Telling Stories in the Multimedia Age. There was also Calin Kruse, whose workshop focused on photobook production, aptly titled The Photobook: Process, Production, Presentation.

The portfolio review held on 20th August at Gudang cafe was also well received. While we were there, the space had an incredible buzz – photographers and their reviewers were seated and focused on the discussion of their works. The reviewers came from all over the world, and that led to an incredible diversity of views and standpoints for the photographers.

Shahidul Alam, one of Bangladesh’s most famous photographer and social activist, was at the festival as well to deliver a talk on finding new narratives in photography.

Over the next few days, we will be publishing our reports on the exhibitions showcased at OBSCURA this year, so stay tuned.

Related page
[Updated] OBSCURA Festival of Photography 2016
Photo Event Report from Asia: OBSCURA Festival of Photography 2015

Leonard Goh

Leonard is an advocate of photography in Singapore and also an educator in this field. He has served as senior writer for the now-defunct CNET Asia, before moving on to working for various camera companies in the business development and marketing capacities. He is also a co-founder of Platform, a not-for-profit photography initiative in Singapore which also published Twentyfifteen, a collection of 20 books to commemorate Singapore’s Golden Jubilee (SG50).

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