This weekend, there will be a stall at Pasar Batu 41/2 at Old Klang Road in Kuala Lumpur where you can sit down for a cuppa, in exchange for stories about the area.
Your tale might just be included in an ongoing archival project initiated by WhereAs, a KL-based collective that sets out to observe people and places, and document the rich histories behind public spaces.
Since last August, this group of volunteers making up WhereAs Old Klang Road have been making regular sojourns to this market in an effort to map and archive stories of the people of the market and surrounding area.
The pop-up exhibition at the Old Klang Road wet market on Aug 24 and 25, titled Pasal Pasar, is a culmination of their work thus far.
“Cultural mapping initiatives often use photographs and text as the medium of choice. But for Pasal Pasar, we wanted to take it a step further and include other forms such as dance and illustration,” says exhibition curator Doris Quek, who is a member of WhereAs.
The team behind Pasal Pasar comprises nearly 50 volunteers, including a writer, a videographer, a dancer, 15 illustrators and 30 roving interviewers/reporters.
So what can you expect from this two-day celebration of the sights and sounds of the market, and all the people who make the place what it is today?
Among the highlights are photographs and illustrations of scenes from the marketplace, a diary of a dancer who writes about her experience navigating the space and her interpretation of the interactions and relationships forged during her time there, and interviews with the hawkers and people around the area who are familiar faces at the market – presented in videos and articles.
For the vendors here, the day often starts as early as 3am. The process of setting up for yet another day of buying and selling is captured in this exhibition.
“This is an ongoing initiative that aims to gather stories and memories of the area, to expand its understanding and also capture a certain sense of belonging.
“We talk about the present, but invariably it always end up being traced back to the past – so you will see both elements here,” says Quek.
She adds that Pasal Pasar is an exhibition about the people who live and work in the area, and it is also very much a showcase for them.
“We would like to extend an invitation to the public to visit this showcase by multidisciplinary creatives. Perhaps this would also be a good time for each of us to revisit our pasar in our own neighbourhoods,” she says.
As part of this project, other sharing sessions will be held in different venues around Old Klang Road in the near future. There are also plans for WhereAs to expand to other locations around the country.
“We invite curious creatives and artists to be part of our artistic archival. Through revealing living memories, we hope to grow a sense of belonging of the place,” she adds.