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Malaysians by Steven V-L Lee

Malaysians (2007)

by Steven V-L Lee

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"Malaysians" truly is a stunner, a small-format coffee-table book comprising portrait photographs by Steven V-L Lee, with accompanying text written by Haliza hashim-Doyle.

What strikes you is the sheer diversity of faces and ethnicities. When folks talk of race in Malaysia, there's so often this neat pigeonholing - Malay, Chinese Indian dan lain-lain (others).

Yet this broad categorisation doesn't even begin to describe the blend of racial origins you find here: Portuguese, Burmese, Penan, Kelabit, Bajau, mixed Ceylonese and Achenese, mixed Indian and Thai Chinese, Indian-Filipino, mixed Chinese-Indian-Austrian-Slovenian ... improvisation on a theme ... and the list goes on and on.

The girl on the cover Rachel Anne Ward (of English and Iban parentage) is an absolute stunner, and wouldn't be surprised if she were whisked off by someone to become a professional model.

Most of those photographed are ordinary citizens and there's everything from market traders, fishermen and farmers to city-slicker corporate types, and cool fashionistas with interesting hairstyles. Some of my favourite portraits are of the older folk, with their life-stories etched into the lines on their faces. You don't get portraits as stunning as these without putting a lot of love into your work.

There are a few famous faces in here too: Chef Wan, Indian classical dancer January Low, her mentor Ramli Ibrahim, Malaysia's "prince of fashion" Bernard Chandran and ... hey there's Rocky (how did a blogger a.k.a. "media strategist" get in there?). ( )
  bibliobibuli | Oct 25, 2007 |
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