Conceived in relation to the NUS Museum exhibition Camping and Tramping Through the Colonial Archive: The Museum in Malaya, this accumulative site presents another aspect of the colonial archive – the moving image.
Experimental in its outlook, Malaya Black and White does not aim to be an encyclopedic attempt at understanding all things about the moving image. Rather, it invites practitioners to explore a certain aspect of the moving image archives by maintaining a particular page on this blog – making regular posts with found materials and traces online, holding film screenings, or even attempting to curate an exhibition online. Whilst this site itself will remain progressively chaotic (reflecting particular and individuated modes of working), it is intended that representations of ‘Malaya’ take centre stage here. Curiosity is encouraged.
Film screenings will be held on a regular basis or as and when materials become available.
At this stage, eight sub-categories structure the project, with newer categories being constantly added.
Filem Noir (Entangled Journeys) features particular Hollywood films that attempted to imagine Malaya within the peculiar post-war genre of travel films.
Filem Noir (Native Mayhem) highlights pre-independent Hollywood feature films with their unabashedly exoticized images of colonial Malaya.
Banned! retraces lesser known films that had to go through the Straits Settlement Censors office during the inter-war period.
Throes of Empire focuses on the propaganda war waged by the returning British, through the lens of the Malayan Film Unit.
The Savage Civilisation features The Borneo Story, an understated documentary made by Tom Harrison, famed ethnographer who was active in Sarawak and a controversial character whose biography is polemically titled The Most Offending Soul Alive.
Nanyang Fever looks at the lesser known films produced by the Japanese during the Occupation years in Singapore.
Wild Wild East unpacks the allure of the lush yet dangerous ‘jungle’ that has been a recurring theme in the popular imaginings of Malaya on film.
Malaya Undead explore representations of Malayan identities through the lens of the supernatural.
P.roverbial Ramlee aspires to relive the heydey of the Malay film industry with P Ramlee taking centre stage and prodding our very conscience and critique.
As a purely descriptive title, Malaya Black and White is misleading, for not all the films and traces featured on this blog strictly conform to a monochrome colour display. At a conceptual level, however, Malaya Black and White encapsulates the often false dichotomies that govern how we view the world. After all, black-and-white is hardly an apt description of the shades of grey which present itself in monochromatic photography or films. Similarly, Malaya, or representations of Malaya, can hardly be categorically considered as black or white, and by extension, good or bad.
Shifting the focus away from simply content, Malaya Black and White recognizes merit in what may have previously been branded tasteless as it wrestles the moving image archives of colonial Malaya.
Credits\\\\\\\Organised by NUS Museum\\\\\\\Conceived by Shabbir Hussain Mustafa and Fiona Tan with contributions from Ashish Ravinran, Sandeep Singh and Timothy Barnard\\\\\\\Curated by Trina Bong