Blow­ing off steam

Punk photo ex­hi­bi­tion Ba­hang is all about ex­plo­sive de­tail, sta­ge­side ac­tion and post-gig warm em­brace.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Art - By DARYL GOH star2@thes­tar.com.my

IT’S been six years since Pe­nang­born pho­tog­ra­pher Choi Ching Loong ar­rived in Kuala Lumpur. He can proudly vouch that it has been the loud­est of times.

In that time frame, Choi has been a con­stant – and busy – fix­ture at un­der­ground con­certs in the cap­i­tal and be­yond.

The 30-year-old, al­ways with a camera in hand, has been ac­tively doc­u­ment­ing non-main­stream gigs held at hot­bed venues like Rumah Api in KL, right up to Sound­maker Stu­dio in Pe­nang.

His Ba­hang (heat in Malay) photography ex­hi­bi­tion, which is on at The Rice­cooker Ar­chives gallery in KL, pro­vides the pub­lic a sam­ple of his work. It fea­tures 76 photographs taken by Choi be­tween 2011 and 2017.

Choi is ev­ery­where dur­ing a gig, from the fren­zied front­lines to the mosh pit mad­ness, right to the back­stage area and venue back al­leys.

The Ba­hang pho­tos, in B&W and colour, were se­lected by artist Yee I-Lann, with help from Joe Kidd, who op­er­ates The Rice­cooker Ar­chives space.

“This is my pho­to­graphic jour­ney, a short trip, cap­tur­ing and chron­i­cling the un­der­belly of the Malaysian punk, hard­core and metal scenes. These pho­tos rarely make it out­side the scene. I’m grate­ful to see them get­ting a wider au­di­ence. They are also ar­ranged in a par­tic­u­lar fash­ion, which gives all the chaos some con­text,” says Choi, who also works at KL’s Tan­dang record store.

The­mat­i­cally, the Ba­hang ex­hi­bi­tion is laid out as “a day at a punk rock show” ex­pe­ri­ence. The vis­ual im­pact, to say the least, is strong.

“If you go in the room and start with the wall text, it’s the be­gin­ning of a show, it’s a bit quiet, then it moves to the show it­self, and then goes post-show, where things are wind­ing down,” ex­plains Joe Kidd.

Through Choi’s photographs, ex­treme mu­sic bands like Crime Scene, Daighila, Worm­rot, Snag­gle­tooth and Krass Kepala, are cap­tured in ex­plo­sive ac­tion on stage, while there are also qui­eter an­gles to this Ba­hang ex­hi­bi­tion. Choi, even without any for­mal train­ing, has de­vel­oped

a nat­u­ral eye for images and com­po­si­tion, ex­pos­ing a cer­tain sober­ing calm in the seem­ingly volatile world of punk rock.

“It’s not only about ag­gres­sion, loud vol­ume and raw en­ergy. You would be sur­prised at the con­tem­pla­tive mo­ments you can cap­ture at gigs,” he says.

Ba­hang is on at The Rice­cook­ers Ar­chives, Zhong­shan Build­ing in KL till Aug 23. Open: Tues­day to Satur­day, 2pm to 8pm. Free ad­mis­sion. FB: The Rice­cooker Ar­chives.

‘I’ve not bro­ken any bones or had any ma­jor is­sues pho­tograph­ing in the mosh pit or sta­ge­side so far. You just have to deal with the sweat and steam ... and stray el­bows. Well, a drum­mer did smash my camera lens once, but that’s not a prob­lem, these things hap­pen,’ says Choi.

Choi’s Krass Kepala, Rumah Api (2013), one of many up close and per­sonal gig photographs from his vast ar­ray of con­cert work. — Pho­tos: ROHAIZAT MD DARUS/The Star

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