In 2017 I was invited by the National Art Gallery to exhibit a body of work under the theme ‘heritage’ or warisan. I decided to create a new work based on material and experience documenting the history of the railways. A statement about the work is appended below.
222km is the distance between the railway junction in Gemas and its terminus in Tanjong Pagar, Singapore. The ‘Southern Line’ was opened in 1909, cutting deep through the interior of Johor. British interests were eager to develop the rubber industry, and connect the Federated Malay States(Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Pahang) with Singapore. is venture saw the opening of vast new rubber estates, and numerous settlements along the entire line.For more than a century the railway network across the peninsula remained relatively untouched. A land-swap deal between the govern- ments of Malaysia and Singapore in 2011 shortened the line rst to Woodlands, and later Johor Bahru. 222km is now 195km.
With the impending second phase of the double tracking project, most of the old stations along the southern line will be upgraded, and the single track replaced with two parallel tracks. In 2016, Projek Keretapi Kita was initiated to begin documenting the history of our railways. e project has since travelled across the country photographing railway stations, recording memories, and documenting the lives of men and women of our railways.
The railways were built on three elements: wood, steel/iron, and labour. 222KM is a new collection of contact prints made in the dark- room, which were then toned, varnished, and framed into blocks of kranji wood with stainless steel plates. The first row is a permanent record of station signboards on the Southern Line, while the second features various railway scenes.
Alami Belas (Be loved)
Balai Seni Negara (National Art Gallery)
November 2017 – Mach 2018
A simple catalogue about the work can be downloaded here.