AN ILLUMINATED ROAD
This project revolves around 20 individuals who are a part of the new generation of creatives. Individuals who are making an impact on Malaysian society and who are generating change. Individuals who are pushing the boundaries and breaking barriers. Ranging from individuals who are exploring new art forms within Malaysian culture, individuals preserving Malaysian culture or individuals touching on important issues within their work. These are some of the individuals who inspire me through their artistic processes as well as their creative visions; reaching a wide variety of mediums - dance, photography, painting, sculpture, etc.
Each individual's portrait has been manifested from the answers of questions that were based on their career achievements, their impact as well as their thoughts on the current arts industry here in Malaysia - represented through a variety of colours, patterns, shapes and textures.
Alena Murang (@alenamurang)
Alena Murang is an artist from Sarawak who delves into Sarawakian culture throughout her work; playing the ‘sape’, singing in the endangered ‘Kenyah’ & ‘Kelabit’ languages and dances the hornbill dance. She writes songs, performs, teaches and paints, making her a multi-disciplinary artist. She aims to improve and deepen Malaysians understanding of Dayak culture as well as to encourage others to learn about their own heritage and to showcase ‘traditional music’ as contemporary and relevant.
Alex Bong (@alex.tbh)
Alex Bong Is a songwriter and producer, creating what he calls ‘sadboi’ music. Known for being one of the first openly queer Malaysian singers, he has been featured in the likes of Gay Times, Out Magazine, Wonderland Magazine and Billboard Magazine. He opened for Yuna’s European Tour in 2019. Alex wants other artists from the LGBTQ+ community to pursue their career without fear.
Alicia Amin (@hangrii)
Alicia Amin is a well known Malaysian model and actress, appearing on Asia’s Next Top Model Season 5. Her first magazine cover was in 2011 and since then has been printed in over 35 magazines, celebrating 8/9 magazine covers.
She broke into mass market acting despite her urbanised background. Alicia was one of the pioneers when it came to body image when it came to female sexuality in Malaysia, being the first Malaysian model to appear on TV and print with tattoos as well as taking more risks by showing more skin in local magazines. The limitations that the industry put on her only made her more creative with her approach. She also speaks out avidly on her platform on social media about current social and political issues.
Amani Azlin Shah (@amania_)
Amani Shah is a photographer and creative director. Amani has had her work printed in the likes of Esquire My, featured in Aperture My and has exhibited multiple times in Kuala Lumpur. She is constantly trying to create work that starts a discussion, trying to put forward her ideas even though there might be some sort of backlash towards them. One of her main goals is to show her work and be able to inspire women and show them that the production industry is a possible career path.
Annice Teo Ann Lyn (@annicelyn)
Is a visual artist; a sports and documentary photographer, visually documenting the lives of others, by illustrating the stories that they’ve shared with her through the art of photography.
She believes in providing these individuals a platform to give them a voice and the visibility to transform and change the perception of others. Being a former\ national figure skater, she seeks to photograph behind-the-scenes and competition, pursuing winter sports in a tropical equatorial country. She has covered the Southeast Asian Games, Four Continents Championships, World Championships as well as the Winter Olympics.
Catherhea Teoh (@catherhea)
Catherhea is a full-time freelance photographer. Most of her focus has been on projects that highlight marginalised groups of people in society as well as other social issues. Her work encapsulates a soft, dreamy style that has an element of fashion photography. Her work has been exhibited in both local and international scenes. Representation is an incredibly important aspect of her work, wanting ‘diversity’ to evolve beyond a trend and for it to become a normal standard.
Dhani Illiani Yusof (@dhanilliani)
Dhani Illiani Yusof is a visual & performance artist as well as a fashion designer and apart of the national Ice Hockey team. She exhibited in Gudskul Jakarta in 2019 and is in the midst of raising funds to exhibit in Copenhagen, Denmark. Dhani aims to make it easier for girls, especially Muslim girls, to feel free in finding their voice and expressing themselves. She wants to pave the way for Malaysian women in art and design who are keen on experimenting with their visions on a larger scale, wanting young girls to know it’s possible to achieve anything they put their minds to.
Hafreez Aminuddin (@freezfroshort)
Hafreez Aminuddin is a video director, who also works in PR & marketing. He has worked with a variety of brands ranging from Voir Gallery to Behati to Uniqlo to Levis as well as directed music videos such as ‘Circles’ by Dani Komari and ‘Who Are U’ by Zee Avi. He’s always looking for new challenges, different styles/methods and new local talent to work with. Hafreez tends to add subliminal messages in his work, allowing the viewer to find a new perspective.
Hammada Bamadhaj (@hammadart)
Hammada is a makeup artist and drag performer. He is the first Malaysia male makeup artist to have won the NYX Face Awards, an international makeup competition, being flown to L.A. Being in drag, he has had to opportunity to perform onstage for alextbh’s first solo show in KL as well as being featured in Zee Avi’s music video. Hammada has been pushing brands to not accept him personally, but to accept his identity that comes hand in hand with his artistry. He speaks openly about being gay despite the repercussions he might get from brands, the authorities and the homophobes. “Homophobia and censorship happens even in the beauty industry. They want our talent and artistry but are unwilling to accept our identity.”.
Hong Yi (@redhongyi)
Hong Yi s an artist residing from Borneo. She creates installations and paintings made of everyday materials such as socks, tea leaves and chopsticks. She uses materials that she is familiar with in order to allow herself to challenge her viewers to see their surroundings with fresh eyes as there is no one way of approaching things. She believes it’s important to create art and leave it for future generations so they can look back and learn what it means to be human - in the past, present and future.
Kel Wen (@kel__wen)
Kel Wen is a fashion designer and owner of local brand Behati. He designs contemporary wear inspired from Malaysia’s heritage, taking elements of traditional costumes from different races and also incorporates traditional crafts like Batik and Songket into his designs. He famously designed the viral Baju Melayu Oversaiz that led him to Behati’s debut at KL Fashion Week 2019. He wishes Malaysians to wear traditional wear on a daily basis and not only during festivities, bringing back the fashion of Old Malaya to fit into the modern present.
Maybelline Wong (@definitelymaybe_)
Maybelline is a dancer, choreographer and dance event organiser. She co founded and runs Babel Dance a dance academy & agency. Through Babel Dance she also works with brands and agencies to create dance related content. As a female in the dance scene in, she strives to push women and femininity in dance.
"I see it as our responsibility to encourage inner strength and empower the feminine expression through dance'.
Her ultimate goal is to show people how to move without inhibition or worries.
Muhammad Azfar Firdaus (@azfarovski)
Azfar Firdaus is a model and advocate for individuals with rare disabilities. Azfar has modeled for brands such as Uniqlo & Zalora, as well as walked for KLFW 2019. Apart from that, he is an avid speaker for KL & Selangor Albinism Association and Malaysian Rare Disorders Society. He has given talks for organisations, universities and most recently TedX. He uses his platform to be able to break the stigma on what’s considered normal or unique.
Nalisa Alia Amin (@nalisaliamin)
Nalisa is a plus sized model, content creator and social activist, based in Kuala Lumpur. She was the first plus size model to open for Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week; aiming to raise awareness on inclusivity in our Malaysian media and fashion industry, having the ability to inspire men and women of all sizes to love and embrace their bodies. Her body positivity has allowed for individuals to find their confidence in their own bodies.
Roshan Menon (@thebeardedcameragod)
Roshan Menon is a multi-faceted creative that’s involved in music, photography, and design. He founded KL-based SaturdaySelects, a music imprint and creative agency specialising in promoting shows, artist management and developing radio shows. He has played shows all around Kuala Lumpur, as well as internationally around Asia and Europe and photographed campaigns for COS, Topman & Nike. With Saturday Selects, he wants to break down the barriers in the music industry, mixing up genres and giving DJ’s the opportunity to play any genres they like and dig deep into their music crates.
Rozella Marie Mahjhrin (@rozellamarie)
Rozella is a singer/songwriter, VO Artist, activist and founder of True Complexion. She wants to create conversations about the importance of inclusivity, diversity and representation, geared towards early education. Her platform, True Complexion (@truecomplexion) aims to shine light on individuals who have skin conditions as well as physical conditions and disabilities, sharing their stories and inspiring others. Rozella is also one of the Asia Pacific Obama Foundation Leaders, the Ambassador of IT Cosmetics and has been awarded several titles for her activist work.
Samuel Yong (@samueleffron)
Samuel is a freelance graphic designer by day and a budding drag queen by night. He has been a graphic designer for over 10 years, with an extended clientele base locally and internationally. His drag persona, Carmen Rose (@carmnrose), won the 5th Installment of Berlin Is Burning and is also one of the founders of Shagrilla, a club kid night out, and a safe space for Malaysian queer artists to make themselves visible. Through his drag persona, Sam has helped other young aspirational queens to come out and express their creativity without any fear or reservation.
Sofia Haron (@sofiaharon)
Sofia is a visual artist, painter, digital designer and set designer. Throughout her career, she has exhibited more than 50 times, along with doing installations. She was invited to Tokyo in 2015 as a young Malaysian artist by Terrada Gallery in Shinagawa. Sofia wants to encourage growth within the industry, pushing to collaborate with artists in other fields to create connections. Apart from this, Sofia teaches intuitive portrait workshops as well as teaches students with autism about Malaysian Arts, how to overcome fear and how to find their inner voice.
Rupa Subramaniam (@warna.rupa)
Rupa is a visual artist, an art teacher and runs art events and pairs them with social causes. She has been acknowledged as Female Magazine & Marie Claire’s Women of The Year 2019, as well as had her body painting project displayed at the World Humanities Conference in Liege, Belgium in 2017. Rupa aims to create a wider awareness for the arts, reaching out to people outside ‘the scene’. She creates these spaces so people can feel like they can belong, despite not having art knowledge. She create atmospheres that allows individuals to let their guard down and immerse into the experience. Rupa also brings up the conversation about brown women with their rich cultural and ancestral roots, into the work that she makes.
Tess Pang (@tesspang)
Tess Pang is an interdisciplinary artist, mainly working in dance and theatre. Tess dances, acts, models, choreographs, writes and creates performance art pieces. Tess has featured in international brand campaigns and music videos, as well as performed locally and internationally. Tess loves to collaborate with other artists, finding inspiration through conversations it has with different people. To Tess, movement is an expression of the energies and emotions contained within the vessel of a body. Tess is fascinated by the quality of movement that naturally emerges when a person is allowed to create and express out of pure curiosity.