Friday, May 10, 2013

Au Revoir Les Ghosties!

An Appreciation of Vancouver's Apollo Ghosts


Personally, it should elicit no embarrassment at all to readily admit to being completely bowled over by - or indeed in love with - the work your friends make, but in this case it's taken me an eternity to even attempt to express the very special feelings elicited by this one very, very special band in Vancouver.

For the past three years I've been listening, dancing, watching and basking in the glorious tuneage that Adrian, Amanda, Jay and now Jarrett collectively generate as Apollo Ghosts. They have been, without a doubt, my favourite band to watch in Vancouver.

This morning, I ported 'Day of Glory' through my headset on my way to the first, cherished coffee of the day. By the time I reached the intersect of 4th and Commercial, my head was discernibly (as it always does) bopping (along with an imaginary crowd), and I defy anyone to resist doing the same by song's end.

I first met and saw the Ghosts at Little Mountain Studios (now Gallery) in the days (how strange to write that!) when it was under E C Salazar's stewardship. I was serving bar and just generally hanging out, as I often did those days. On the calendar was the album release for 'Mount Benson'.

Once in a while you catch something that in your life was hitherto unseen, unheard, maybe-heard-about, but you later remember that act as one of the pivotal turnings in a life. Apollo Ghosts was one of those acts.

'Mount Benson' release at Little Mountain Gallery. Photo by Steve Louie, I think

I saw tons of bands, intimate soiree solo acts, noise collectives and such stream through the gracious doors of Little Mountain. That night, the crowd was jammed to the rafters, sweaty, jubilant, ignited, and very much rocking. Short, sometimes staccato-length songs enticed smiles and hips to swing, and a constantly revolving row of bodies (both audience and band) to crowdsurf. Shirts came off, sweat was, in short, a glorious night (pictures of that unforgettable event, care of Steve Louie, here)...the first time I saw Chris-a-riffic, shook hands with Adrian, and maybe even smiled at Amanda (Cassidy, but also maybe Panda too). I carried the tunes in my head all the bike ride home, and also some unknown future friendships on the way.

A couple of months later, I found myself on the steps of the Mansion to see Adrian play a solo set, fundraising for Jeff Johnson so he could record his next OK Vancouver OK record.

I bought Mount Benson on vinyl, and it became the soundtrack of that summer for not just myself, but a number of friends and people in my orbit.

That record really resonated with me. That year, my dad had just died, in January, a slow and difficult death from pneumonia, after complications stemming from an affliction (Parkinson's Disease) he had borne for fifteen years. My mom, my family, my self, were all reeling from the loss. I'd gone through a major depression, following several years (since relocating to Vancouver from Montreal) that were - in short - difficult, heart-breaking and painful.

Once in a while, you find and spend time with songs that will forever stand as a record of your experience. Some of these songs connect back to another place in time, and some of them pin you specifically to that very moment of first listen.

That 'function' of song - as the signpost of a lived (or still living) experience - will forever merge itself with your particular path, your specific fact of being. And maybe this is where songs really matter, on that intensely personalized axis where the song (and maybe the songwriter) intersects with the listener (or the life of the listener). Its magic derives from being experienced as singular but understood as universal at the same time. And the fact that no two people will necessarily like the same song in the same way in no way detracts from this magic.

I will never board a westcoast ferry again without hearing the internal refrain of 'Snow On Mount Benson' (an ode to the Queen of New Westminster ferry). I've found myself listening to that self-same song on that self-same boat to Nanaimo (the town that Adrian and Amanda hail from). Or I've found myself on a boat remembering other rides on other boats, when I was experiencing being 'that other man, I know you'll put him in my place'. 

I rode a lot of ferries in 2007, while my heart was breaking or aspiring to something (or someone), and I still ride them a lot now. Alternately, whenever I  re-admit that song to my ear today, it summons up the most vivid, visceral and relived experience of gazing towards, or from, some landmass while strolling the decks, whether rain-swept or sun-poured, in brightest day or receding night. I can even smell the slick, bright, enamel paint shining in its grit-specked coat of grey, and am entranced once again by the spiralling sea-tracks foaming in the ferry's wake.

That night, my first time on the front doorsteps of the Mansion, was to connect to many other nights and days on the same steps, and I can trace routes both leading to and from that stoop, and the house and the persons attached to it.

The staircase was a collaged map of significant addresses and a volcano specially papier-mached by Jeff and company for that night's performance. That night, actually, was the first time I met Jeff, and invited him for vegetarian curry at my place the following night. I also met the Caron sisters and Sasha and Anita (Greenbelt), and later Chris-a-riffic, and Harrison and Enzio (of Half Chinese) and Claire and Erin and Dan and Kevin. That was the Mansion. (At least then, it still exists!)

That night, Adrian played Apollo Ghosts songs quietly and with great gentleness. He had the gathered assembly sit down to 'Hub City', which transformed magically into a hypnotic, undersea swell and group sing-a-long (the colored lights and shadow theatre helped).

He played 'From Brown To Grey', an ode to his parents from the album (one of the most touching portraits of aging in a relationship that I can think of), after telling us that his father had just been tested for Alzheimer's that week. And I think everyone in that room prayed most fervently that the tests would come back negative.

When we spoke later, I gave him the address to the website I had made for my dad, with his poems, excerpts from his stories, and a page of tributes from friends and family I had assembled shortly after he passed. I loved my dad dearly, and we had that rare type of father-son relationship which was remarkably free of guile, resistance or embitterment between us.

These are just a few among many memories of Apollo Ghosts, of the effect their songs have had... upon myself, and a whole community of people who love them here in Vancouver.

Their words, their music, and most importantly the heart inside their music are what bind so many listeners in affectionate allegiance to their songs. What often happens is that we feel we are within their songs.

Apollo Ghosts sing odes to places we recognize (East Van, Hastings Sunrise, Nanaimo, Wakesiah Bay). They sing about people we know ('To A Friend Who Has Been Through A War' might be written to a common friend, but I find myself brought back to thinking about the woman from Sarajevo I loved and lived with for seven years). They sing about what we think ('it's all in your head!'). They sing about what it's like to be terrifyingly shy in the company of your own friends, the heartlessness of capitalism, and things we go through.

So yes, they have been my (and many of my friends') favourite band for the past few years.

And, it's been a pleasure to know them.

In truth I can't actually claim to know any of the Ghosts intimately, and it's strange to have such an intimate sense anyway of what 'happens' inside the Ghosts by listening to their music. I've exchanged books with Adrian (his own chapbook for one of my dad's collected poems), shared pizza and booze, and am always glad to see him. And Amanda and Jay and Jarrett are in constant circulation among the same places and many shared friends, where the mood is always genial, and generous, and friendly, and everyone takes the time to say 'hello', hug, and share their lives.

And now, after a few years of 'doing the best with what they had', the Apollo Ghosts are calling it quits.

I can't really think of this as an 'ending', and while I'm sad to see them go, they aren't really going away, but onto other great, awesome and remarkable things (I suspect).

So, tonight I'll be sweating it out, chorusing and shaking at the Rickshaw to one of the greatest bands this town has ever seen, without any regrets. I hope I'll see you there :)


Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Spoon of the Universe - April 6 2012

I ran the tap this morning to soak the previous night's dishes. I saw the mechanics of the Universe revealed:

Glory Be! to Centrifugal Farce, Your Clock-Hand Spoon surpassed by the speed of Chilli Flake --- (you might have orbited forever, if it weren't for that fucker Friction).

Ahum, well..all things must pass.

(Friend Ash walked in just past the entropic moment.)

'What SAY You NOW, Universe?'

Indeed. Sun Dunks on Horizon's Tail - Heaven's on Fire, with mYstikal Mike on on His Wire. Episode 3,000,001 of the Michael & Kajin Show, Park McSpadden, Year 0. :)K


Mystical Fires
Of the Ring
The Lord is Coming
Call me a King
Listen to me Sing
I will give you a Harp
And a Stick to Bing

Are doing their Thing
He-Fit -Me-Phelepus (?)
And it's Gods are Done....
Of the Aurarian to Ninja One
We're Done

We are Pirates that Died
Gypsies that Lied
We are Pedestrians that got High
On Supernatural Things
(called the 'Brain' of Someone Else)

Go Back Home
I put my Magic Book on the Shelf
Draw My shadow Painting
Hang my Karate Dagger Blade
And YOU, Motherfucker,
like a Doctor, SPAYED





Michael Shaw Sings The Blues

At McSpadden Park with Mr Dragonfly himself. Episode 3,000,000 of the Michael & Kajin Show :)K

Friday, April 27, 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Alleys of Damansara Jaya - opening May 3 at Kafka's on Main

Have been mad busy prepping 'Alleys of Damansara Jaya' for a show at Kafka's, opening May 3. An old work that has never really been shown, this was a collaboration with my ex-partner, Tessa Wetherill, made while we were living in a suburb of Petaling Jaya.

There's a website for the project now: Alleys of Damansara Jaya

Click here for the Facebook event

The following is a revised version of 'Notes on Damansara Jaya'. Never been a fan of artist 'statements'; instead, the following piece of writing speaks more to process, experience and reflection on making the 'Alleys' project.

Alleys of Damansara Jaya

Photo and video installation, 2005-2007
Kajin Goh & Tessa Wetherill

Not long after arriving in KL, Tess and I rented a room from Mrs. Tan on Jalan SS 22/29, in the suburbs of Damansara Jaya, in late August 2005.

It was an air-tight, gated suburban home; the air humid and heavy, as the windows were latched shut with the curtains drawn. A yellow, musty film seemed settled indiscriminately over everything; plus an ancient, oily smell of past meals seemed to have penetrated right into the walls.

We shared the house with sad, troubled Simon (Mrs. Tan’s brother), his nubile and somewhat aloof mail-order bride from the mainland (who seldom registered our existence with so much as a stabbing upward glance from her compact), and a seldom-seen Indian engineering student who sequestered himself in his room, distracting himself with a transistor radio and the very occasional visitor. Tess and I had a large room opposite, with attached bathroom and grilled-in balcony overlooking the front of the street. Rent was 500 RM/month.

We had moved to the neighbourhood ostensibly to be close to Gudang, Hamir Soib’s art studio, where we had started a residency and were working on several pieces to be shown in an ‘Open Studio’ group exhibit later that year.

Every day we would rouse ourselves (late to very late) from bed, head over to the Atrium complex on SS 22/21 to linger over kopi (bahasa for 'coffee'), or teh tarek ('pulled tea') and telur kampung ('village' or boiled egg), and then head over to Gudang to work as long as we could before the mosquitoes ate us alive. End of day we would go makan (eat) at SS 22/11 or SS 2 or 19, and after meet friends for drinks or yet more tea, pick up a pirate DVD (rental stores no longer exist in modern-day KL), or simply head home, often staying up till 3 or 5 am or whenever sleep overtook us.

We left and went home through the back alley. For me, these were environments strongly resonant of my early childhood spent near Kampung Java Park in Singapore, a place I hadn’t set foot in or seen for twenty-plus years. For Tess these were wholly unfamiliar and fascinating, novel spaces. Compared to my childhood haunts, the alleys in DJ were narrower, flanked by deep longkangs (storm-drains) dropping away from either side of the path, with stone steps poised over the abyss to access yards or kitchens beyond heavily-padlocked iron gates.

Every day, scents spilled from the kitchens at dusk, the drainpipes gushing a foamy liquid into the longkangs as people washed or laundered. The back-facing province of hired help and cloistered pets, a resonant broadcast of dis-embodied voices, radio, and TV would blend daily with the pounding of mortar and pestle, staccato knife-rhythms on the chopping block, dogs barking.

While the street-facades of DJ's suburban dwellings sported an almost ubiquitous, assembly-line patina of respectful, middle-class inviolability (or at least a cautionary discreteness), the lives of our unmet neighbours seeped unedited through the back because the alleys didn’t really seem to matter; perhaps the assumption being that – being so little used – there would be no reason to suppose any person would be present to register, hear, see or receive the unfiltered and disposable material of one's daily life.

In months of living there, we witnessed perhaps less than half a dozen of our fellow human beings negotiating, walking, much less loitering in the spaces we now began exploring with greater frequency and in more expansive outings.

There was neither any discernible collective or singular attempt to bolster the cosmetic or functional properties of these passages, which so intimately linked all these homes together. The alleys were empty, nearly derelict, resonating with a curious air of obsolescence and abandonment. They seemed often a kind of voided channel that one imagined should operate as a vital, connective tissue for the neighbourhood (as they once were, in the not-so-distant past), but now they merely appeared a footnote in space, the echo of an afterthought, forgotten, in general disuse.

But this apparent human absence was amply offset by another kind of presence, a rich and barely contained ecology of plant and animal life. Fruiting trees, creepers, moss, slime, microfungi and sewage mould; plus rats, squirrels, endless outpourings of insect life, assorted vermin, and cats. One could compile an engaging anthropology (or bestiary) on these dense and overlapping cross-sections of indigent life in the alley, with all its creatures and flora sifting and interlacing over each other from cycles of dawn to dusk to twilight.

Glimpses of things emerging or descending into cracks, fissures and cavities; things eating and being eaten, or negotiating routes towards eating or being eaten, issuing from the recesses and darknesses and just as quickly merging back into the depths and the damp. Bats would drop from unseen roosts and blitz the evening sky right above our heads; after dark there might be the now-familiar crunch of a cockroach underfoot on our way home; one morning we discovered the baked silhouette of a gecko unwittingly flattened between the hinges of our alley gate.

The alleys drew us in; they were informal (literally of the gutter), yet emanated a very rare and intimate quality, allowing us to become (at times voyeuristically) attuned to the subtler pulses of the neighbourhood. We found them very beautiful.

Each day it became a form of ritual observance for one of us to point to the other some otherwise totally glossable detail; minor shifts and goings-on in the alleys – a pile of rice rotting on the path, a dayglow hue to a certain section of sewage that day, or more unexplainable sightings like the ominous scores of dead goldfish which appeared and reappeared daily for a month at a particular junction on our walk. We often found ourselves pondering how these places and their modest 'happenings' related to the larger physical and mental space around us.

For one thing, despite the richness of all the observable minutiae to grosser phenomenon to be discovered within, alleys seem defined partly by a kind of absence…spatially, they appear to operate not by being anything in particular except in eking out their existence between 'things'. Is an alley in any sense an actual thing? Or are they negative spaces simply distinguished by the opposing, tactile 'facts' of walls and boundaries?

We began thinking of trans-space…'transitional spaces'. An alley operates as a conduit, route or passage, purpose-driven in intent (moving people and sewage) and yet itself never static or fully concrete (tending to engage process over form). But trans- also as the sense of occupying that space in-between, something inter-penetrative and eliding the socially-structured demands for containment, and thus given to trans-gressing boundaries. Things happen there that no one (except perhaps the alley) witnesses.

Because alleys in Damansara Jaya (and extending all over modern-day KL) are so unused, unseen, unregistered, they began to seem to us to be irresistibly romantic. That something could so pervasively coexist within the physical matrix of shared space and yet (almost invisibly) evade common social experience seems to give it enormous potential for a kind of ambulatory expression, even freedom.

There are unknowable possibilities in spaces, those especially beyond the pale which elude direct, regulated and authoritative vision. There is potential for these unbidden, unscripted zones in which a subconscious desire might ruminate, and where various forms of (even sub-species) self-determination can flower in the absence of a controlling hand or surveilling eye.

The fact of the matter is alleys in DJ are not actually hidden, but that most people simply do not see them. And in Malaysia, this lends them an especial air of reprieve.

When we first showed the early photographic results of our excursions, the unexpected responses registered from surprise to shock that these images were recorded in the midst of a suburb of KL. Many of these reactions issued from life-long residents of the area. Plain, un-lovely, un-poetic Damansara surprising! Which brings to mind an old idea about what in effect constitutes a 'worthy' subject, and whether a so-called artful rendering belies or enhances the subject in question, and to what end?

It's a recurring trope in all the post-colonies, where externally-imported narratives and 'normative' aesthetics are still superimposed and written over the landscape, in principal affecting the common perception of the worth or value of the host culture – and to a deeper and more disconcerting degree, its own imminent and experiential 'realities'.

While there was at the time a generally tacit praise for something 'beautiful' captured in these images, what becomes apparent now is the glaring blindspot simultaneously buttressing the range and apprehension of our surroundings. Is this where images, art, words, sounds begin to reveal rather than obscure, as in 'naming' the features of one's landscape? A moment of visual arrest might point us equally inward as outward towards the object of our contemplation. I think also that the act of recognition, of see-ing, renders emergent a certain psychic potentiality in our perceived but ultimately active relationship to the space around us.

And in this there is something approaching a kind of fantasy – not a deranged ‘fantasy’ of make-believe, or a wish-fulfillment for what doesn’t exist or would only wistfully be brought upon to exist (without hope of actualising), but what life in its movement between the 'interstices' can coax into experience – a momentary leeway which widens the channel for a potential social contract, or evocation of the social imaginary. It is very much a shift of accent into the here and now, engaging at the same time with the hidden, internal reality of things.

Our fascination with the alleys was that they could support so many simultaneous processes at once…trans-species, trans-cultural, trans-economic, and also be so many things at once: olfactory (how does one even begin to describe an after-rain smell in the east?), multi-sensorial, perhaps even trans-physical, a scape which shifted continually to heighten the acuity of ones self-perception. In the alley one becomes very aware of being a body, and its spatial projection into the moving dark around it.

The alleys are simultaneously autonomous and participatory zones, interfacing between public and private spaces. They are never enclosures, and because of this able to sinuously traverse the urban fabric without eliciting comment. And for us, they became the quietly unassuming alimentary canals that allowed nature to insinuate itself into the concrete heart of the city.

A whole constellation of animal and plant life lives, breeds and feeds off the by-products of human culture in mostly unobserved but daily symbiosis. Tess and I were simply transitory agents passing through an environment layered with multiple levels of feedback. Through this we began to understand how highly nuanced the effects of space and time were in this densely charged space.

This was how Alleys of Damansara Jaya came to be, out of our extended wanderings through the alleys at night, through the alimentary canals.


Full moon. We were on our way home one night when we noticed how progressively illuminated the passage became as we moved deeper into our alley, away from the streetlamps and houselights. Every surface, every recess was sharply delineated, and in the way moonlight works upon any exposed face, our specific world unhinged in an instant from the familiar, and was cast into a new and magical light.

Something about the quality of nocturne had always impressed itself upon us since arriving; in this part of the hemisphere, night seemingly “grows its dark” (this line comes from a poem of my father's). The quality of night here is impossible to describe to anyone who hasn’t yet experienced it…impenetrable, mysterious, and somehow, dense and full of energy.

It was an energy I was familiar with in my earlier upbringing in Singapore and Malaysia, but which I hadn’t been in contact with for almost two decades, and now both Tess and I were living with it, in it, on a nightly basis. We realized later that the dark informed much of the work we made…of the five works we produced together or individually while in Malaysia, three could be properly described as nocturnes.

We grabbed our Nikon and tripod and shot opposing views of the alley outside our home. Long exposures of 2 to 8 seconds each. As we later brought up the images on our laptop, a whole new aspect of the spaces we had been experiencing was brought into awareness.

The first impression was how differently the camera rendered what we saw with the naked eye…the experience of trying to frame the shots in situ was difficult because in the dark, we couldn’t really see what we were doing, but now there was revealed a richness of detail we couldn’t register in real time and space. We realized how much the night is ruled by colour. The effect was almost hallucinogenic in its displacement (and by now substitute replacement) of the real. So our photographic memory somehow supplanted or began to merge with our direct experience of the alleys.

The project grew organically from these first few photos, until there was suddenly a scope that was systematic in nature. We would document every alley in Damansara Jaya, SS 22, through all the moonlit nights that fell during our tenure there. So there was a temporal, lunar-driven aspect to our journeys as well, taking almost five months through just before the beginning of monsoon to the end of the rain season.

The companion piece (the video) to the photos also grew as an informal experiment, and is a more personal reflection of our experience there. This has more to do with the emotional life of a couple unmoored, in transit, and in transition, in a relatively foreign place.

The fact that this place was once home to one of the partners simply imposed another complicated layer on a shared experience, of being somehow in suspension and out of time in our interactions within this environment, to which neither partner could fully lay mutual claim.

So the feeling of not quite touching the ground became a distinct part how we felt about our relationship to things. In other words, we found ourselves becoming a part of things without belonging to them.

A couple is something of an emotionally contained unit, filtering their internal experiences through each other against the larger canvas of their (often assumed) society. We didn’t really travel, but instead set up camp in the suburbs, and over time, after the excitement of initial contact had subsided and we had finished our work at Gudang, as well as completed a short film collaboration (with Nazim Esa, lensed in the very same neighbourhood) a slightly terrifying stillness set in, and our journeys went inward. Plus we were suddenly broke.

The photos document the exteriority of the experience…observation, wonder, curiosity, investigation, exploration. There was some risk in walking into the dark, of not knowing what we would find, of transgressing space. The alleys are sometimes so eerily quiet, so intimate, and quite a bit haunted.

The short video piece (much of which had to be truncated when a hard drive went down,) reverses the lens and records something closer to the interiority of the experience. The photos show spaces vacated, de-peopled, yet nevertheless full of exterior, vegetative, auratic, sensory presence. 

The videos became much more about our subjective experience framed within the 'stage' of our observations, but in these our relationship to the environment becomes licit, and loses its supposed critical detachment (while paradoxically portraying our non-attachment to the physical ground of earth).

There is less to say about this that is rational than subjective and intuitive. We had the distinct feeling of floating through things. There were strange, uncanny incidents which began to manifest themselves in our lives. And then it began to hit us, in ways we couldn’t at first articulate (perhaps because the truth was far too simple and self-evident): we were not home. This was the Dorothy finding herself and Toto out of Kansas (and in Oz) moment. And this was true in both a figurative and literal sense.

Implicit for me in that realization was that I had come back seeking a place I had lost (I had spent the ages 12-13 in KL) but the 'centre' (my anchor and attachment to place, culture and people) had shifted. I could relate to the place; but I was from and not necessarily of it. I had to learn to accept those terms as they had been determined by the way my life had happened.

Tess had left home (in Kelowna, BC, Canada) as an 'experience' or reality years before, and suddenly felt a strong yearning to reconnect with the physical, actual connotation of her place of origin and her people, an experience she had rejected and rebelled against as not hitherto feeling wholly of her place and people.

One has to recognize this as a conflict belonging not only to individuals displaced into other, strange localities, but those emotionally trapped, psychically constrained or merely out of sync within their own, respective localities. And we both had to get very far from where we had come in order to realize that.

But beyond that, there are further distinctions in how we worked through this part of the project. One was re-investigating the notion of the nocturne described above. And quite frankly, we were originally scared shitless by the dark, as we initially had to struggle to find our way home blind. But here the accent shifts from deepest dark to approaching dark.

In the east, night doesn’t just “grow its dark”, it grows it swiftly; the sky bruising by such rapid degrees that in a seeming instant all of night’s creatures will shake off their day sleep and begin to take wing, amble through the gutters, or reconnoiter outward from their hiding places. There’s an almost tensile contraction, a quickening vibration of the air. You feel all of this very keenly in the alleys: the sudden rousing of a collective animal, vegetal, human, possibly even dis-embodied spirit.

The photos were generally taken between the hours of eleven pm to one am. In contrast, we would set up our tripod and borrowed camcorder to shoot the video around dusk, during the period our friend Nani Kahar described as the Forbidden Hour. The restless spirits awaken, bats begin to hunt and sweep their radar, dreams take on new and more volatile meanings. The very movement of the air shifts as trees drink in our exhumed breath, and we breathe in theirs.

To sleep during this period is to invite risk into your unconscious. The transition from light to dark is a changing of the guard from the order of the day – and the rational business of going about ones daily preoccupations – to the order of the night, the unconscious, and the spirit realm.

In hindsight, when Tess and I have reviewed the footage, we each sense an intense vulnerability in our collaborative self-portrayal, as well as a sense of risk. But there's also at least something humourous in portraying our own sense of dis-location (and humour was always our best method of self-protection). By now, as life has moved on, and we are returned to Canada (though no longer as a couple), there is also the unavoidably added aspect of biography, fringed by the lengthening passage of time (it is now going on six years since our return). It is probably for the both of us our most personal piece.

In the consideration of that year, another theme quickly began to assert itself. We returned home importing a sense of peril that was borne out in the most difficult of our individual years so far. In short, things fell apart very quickly. There was a sense of foreboding about this. In some aspects, there was a reckoning of our individual histories which had to take place, and in many ways, this particular piece we had worked on seemed to become more resonant and indicative of a very real emotional, psychological and psychic reality and turning point.

There is the real experience and then there is the symbolic, internal transfiguration of that experience. And the symbol that resonated most upon reflection of that experience was of entering the forest. It’s a potent, mythic sort of metaphor, but it’s the one that somehow rings true. One can go to various sources, and there are many – the Anderson and Grimm tales, the legends of the Grail (or Graal), numerous permutations of indigenous folklore and rites of passage, the introductory stanzas in The Inferno, or read ‘In Cold Hell, In Thicket’ – you can see the multitude of ways in how this experience of getting lost manifests itself; it must surely happen to every one of us, but at some point each person must learn to interpret the events of ones own life in ones own way.

And what did Tess and I experience, in the forest, and what does it mean to reveal this work now? I would say:

We entered without knowing which route we would take, and at one point lost sense of the way we had come. We saw and wondered and were confronted with fear and beauty, and what we saw and wondered at we couldn’t take with us, but that sight into parts hitherto unseen became part of who and what we are now, part of our experience, part of our pain as well as our pleasure. And for us, the alleys of Damansara Jaya were our personal forest, one we felt compelled to enter, and one we had to leave, and now – as we pass this on to become part of other people’s experience – the traces of a vicarious journey left recorded in a modest sequence of pictures and moving images, hopefully with none of their charm lost, and all of their power intact.

Kajin Goh,
May 2007 – April 2012


A selection of images from 'Alleys of Damansara Jaya' ( full project site here )