Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Penelope Gan: Malay-Chinese Opera

Photo © Penelope Gan-All Rights Reserved

Although Penelope Gan works in the financial industry in Kuala Lumpur, she's also passionate about photography, and particularly about photojournalism. She recently embarked on documenting various social issues that concern her, and produced a number of audio-visual photo essays to assist a number of local NGOs and government organizations that are involved in resolving these issues. An alum of the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop in Manali this summer, she attended Ami Vitale's class (and mine).

She recently worked on what I deem to be an captivating project, documenting a special brand of traditional Chinese opera performing in Kuala Lumpur. According to Penelope's blog, the Chinese operas initially made their appearance in the mid-19th century when large numbers of Chinese migrated to Malaysia (or Malaya then) in search of employment and economic opportunities. Having settled in their new country, the Chinese brought in opera troupes from China, performing their art and mirroring the cultural developments in China.

The Malaysian Chinese opera may soon be a relic of the past, as it unsuccessfully competes with changing cultural tastes, and against the current of technological advancement and globalization. This makes Penelope's project timely, and I hope she is able to finalize it soon. The merging of what I imagine will be stunning visuals and the audio is something that I am certain will be awaited by many people.

So go for it, Penelope!