The Liquid Land

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The Liquid Land is an ongoing collaboration with photographer Mark Morris

Malaysia was once the world’s largest producer of tin. Mark and I spent a year reading history and photographing the present-day sites of old tin mines. As we learned more about the impact of mining on the physical development of the country, we began to explore its influence on the collective consciousness of Malaysians.

While photographing the immense reclaimed mining landscapes we became interested in esoteric collections of sacred pewter objects, encountering a world of beliefs around tin mining. We photographed tiny talismans, temple ornaments and old coins to reflect the deep-rooted magical influence of tin on those who prospered. Together the landscapes and sacred objects reimagine tin mining as a metaphor for the Malaysian experience.

In Malay folklore there is a tale about a water buffalo known as Ibu Timah (Mother Tin) who lives deep beneath the surface of the earth. If you believe strongly, and solicit the help of the local pawang, Ibu Timah might be appeased and rise to the surface, where a miner might enjoy the riches of her presence.

The Liquid Land was exhibited as part of KL20x20 in Kuala Lumpur, in September 2020. The Chinese Cultural Center of Greater Toronto will host The Liquid Land exhibit as part of Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival in Toronto, Canada from May 7 to June 5, 2022.