RUPA (the visual image) is a memory immortalised. Embedded into skins of prints. Moulded as more of what remains get offered to time. And so little of the spectacle gets unearthed on time. It is about time. The photograph speaks up to say,

This mixed media fabric art is an emotive response to the Rupa workshop; looking at visuals of space and time. The present, the past and what is to come; all transitory. I was hooked on the notion of Hijrah, migration; but through the encounters of the workshop, I felt we often neglect witnessing the migrations that take forth skyward. The most sublime form of migration are the clouds, dying and birthing in time, like traditions and memories themselves. Where such threads are particularly obvious within Geylang Serai. To translate this, I captured a 7 minute video reel of clouds at the break of dawn hovering over Geylang Serai disctrict and from the screencaptures, printed unto organza cloth. The layers were hand-sewn onto the white shroud to form new floods of meanings. Markings were made alongside a final etching of a prose poetry in Malay to summarize all the feelings encapsulated through this project.

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Noor Iskandar

Dimana bumi dipijak disitu langit dijunjung, 2020

Cloth artwork sewn with printed organza

Photo & movement workshop at

Wisma Geylang Serai
with youths from
Azpirasi and Atrika


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to expand photos

It is really exciting to live through your own brainchild manifested into reality. Never had I work at quite an extensive scale before where a lot of care for concept, and commitment for community takes precedence. Had the honour of sitting through all workshops in the Depository phase. To witness memories carved into a tangible outcome is really quite beautiful. More so, the way the process revealed how nuanced, varied, layered all our derivatives of remembering and embodying a share space is, is the main lesson for me. 


- Noor Iskandar

Conversation goes beyond words, observation goes beyond sight, contemplation goes beyond thought. The specks that we cannot see, and the sky that overwhelms our sight...fills a bowl just as much. Or just as little. The old is still young, and the young is so old.

- Ismail Jemaah


What is seen skims the surface of what is felt. That feeling at times is best left undescribed, while at the same time important to be probed. The observations and interactions across generations leaves me feeling that the people, places and the experiences (both buried and in the clouds) are like the beginning and ending points of a circle.

Ismail Jemaah

Rupa, 2020


Dance film shot
at Onan Road

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7 photos task around
Geylang Serai by youths from 
Azpirasi and Atrika


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Photo collages task by
Haig Girls' School students


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"I exist, I am here.

They were too."


Documented by Koh Maan Lin

This workshop centred around Rupa, or visual. The youth malay dancers would read the letters written by the elderly from the previous workshop (Khabar), and take photographs based on the emotions they felt. This underlines the theme of the continuity of memories surrounding Geylang Serai. The workshop was conducted by Ismail and Iskandar. It was raining heavily at Geylang Serai that day -  unfortunate, but Iskandar and Ismail told me over breakfast that it was appropriate because 7 kali bah means 7 floods, a hark back to how the kampungs in Geylang always flooded when it rained. Iskandar also said that the rain would give us literal reflections, which could be used to symbolise the reflections of the past.  Read more >

Documentarian Notes



Documented by Syarifuddin Sahari

The nostalgia is interesting to me hence why certain pictures I… you know the cracked walls yada yada because you have two differing thoughts from one person, meaning someone who has very nostalgic memories from the place so likes the things last times because now don’t have already, but at the same time hates certain things, like bad things from the past and likes the cleanliness whatever of it now. So it’s a, “I have a love-hate of the past, I also have a love-hate of the present as well."  - Ismail Jemaah


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Collaborators for RUPA

Artist Collaborators

Noor Iskandar

Ismail Jemaah

Haig Girls' School Students

Azpirasi & Atrika Youth Champions

Nur Fasihah Kamin

Nur Umairah Idris

Romero Norliza

Nurul Amira Mohd Azlin

Nursyafiqah Azan

Nur Haziq Noorazwa

Nurliyana Shukor

+ Read more about them


Koh Maan Lin