Yasmin Ahmad’s legacy celebrated in eponymous Ipoh museum

Lok showing some of the exhibits at the space. — Picture by Marcus Pheong
Lok showing some of the exhibits at the space. — Picture by Marcus Pheong

IPOH, Oct 18 — Five years after her passing, the spirit and legacy of legendary local filmmaker Yasmin Ahmad will be commemorated in one of her most beloved cities, in the form of the Yasmin at Kong Heng space here.

The space, opening its doors for the first time today, will celebrate Yasmin’s remarkable body of work in the form of her photography, filmography, as well as creations devoted to her by other artists.

Organising committee chairman David Lok said it was a natural choice to pick Ipoh as the site for the museum, as Yasmin held great love of Ipoh, and filmed many of her movies in the city.

“Given the fact that many of her films were shot there, we feel the people of Ipoh will be pleased to have a museum in their town honouring Yasmin.

“Yasmin also had an affection for the city, saying it was full of interesting people.

“Ipoh is also growing in stature as a place of heritage and tourism, with visitors flocking to the town every weekend.

“Many, we feel, will be inspired by Yasmin’s films and memorabilia, which in turn will help grow Yasmin’s legacy of love and understanding that transcends religious and racial differences,” he said.

Lok, who worked extensively with Yasmin as a founder of photography studio: Studio DL, said the distinction of being the first curator of the landmark space would fall to renowned international artist Stanley Wong of Hong Kong, famously known as another mountain man.

Before coming to Ipoh, Wong’s curation — which will mainly feature photography displays on Yasmin — has been exhibited in his native Hong Kong and Shenzhen in China.

At the same time, different films and advertisements created by Yasmin will be screened alongside Wong’s exhibits to keep the exhibition interesting and fresh.

Lok said each exhibition at Yasmin at Kong Heng will last several months, and then it will have fresh or additional revolving exhibits, ranging from Yasmin’s photography to radio commercials to print ads.

Besides the space itself, there are also ongoing plans to create an ‘Augmented Reality’ series for the museum, using the city’s landmarks where Yasmin shot her movies — such as the state mosque, the Ipoh railway station, the Datuk Sagor food court and SMK St Michael’s Institution — featured in films like Muallaf (2008) and Talentime (2009).

All the landmarks are near the museum.

Lok said the theme of the museum, much like Yasmin’s personality, was evolving, but stressed the facility was dedicated to getting a “feel” of what was important to Yasmin via her films, TV commercials and her life.

“What was important to Yasmin was her mother, family, friends, forgiveness, kindness, love and God.

“She had a great sense of the ridiculous and always told us not to be so uptight.

“She was immensely talented in music, poetry, advertising, script writing, yet “beautifully imperfect” was the key.

“We are hoping to capture some of that and showcase it to the world,” he said.

“Yasmin bore the brunt of much unkindness, threats and rudeness all her life — and yet always chose to forgive on every single night.

“Good form was important to her and so were good intentions.

“Hopefully, the exhibits will inspire more people to embrace and carry on her values,” he said

The Yasmin at Kong Heng space is at 89-91, Old Block Apartments on Jalan Sultan Yussuf, and is open from 10am to 6pm on weekends.

Admission for children under 12 is free, while entry for adults is subject to a minimum donation of RM3 for maintenance costs.