Sense of Belonging

Two Mountains Photography Project 3.0 will be presenting an exhibition of the projects of 3 Japanese and 3 Malaysian photographers who were specially commissioned by the project directors to embark on exchange discovery journeys to photograph personal visual stories in and around Mt.Fuji and Mt.Kinabalu, focussing on the natural landscape, folklore, people and communities within the ‘shadow of the peaks’.

[This exhibition marks the final instalment of this joint cultural photo project which began in 2013. We hope to see you at ILHAM for the opening on the 24th November. Join our artists talk on the 25th also. ~ Steven ]

Atsushi Okuyama‘s project ‘A Dream Dreaming Us’ was realised from his visit to the foothill towns and villages of Mt.Kinabalu in the state of Sabah, East Malaysia. There he rediscovered a connection between the lure of the mountain and the intangible but yet real nurturing and welcoming attraction of the inhabitants. He photographed the villagers and assimilated into their culture with ease, albeit temporarily, and attended a Dusun wedding. [ Featured image ©Atsushi Okuyama]. This display is by print and video projection.

‘Cairn’ which means a small mound or pile of stones, usually at a hilltop or a landmark, is the title of Yuki Morita‘s series of diaristic images of his journey to the peak. An accompanying 3:00-minute video of stills and motion images recounting the 2015 Sabah earthquake which took the lives of 18 climbers is narrated by Morita interspersed with English and Malay catchwords describing the event.

© Yuki Morita

Morita’s conceptual approach in presenting his project is unique, and in a way, the photography takes a backseat and is only representational to the overall story-telling referencing the climb and the earthquake, which no doubt, is still fresh in the minds of the locals and guides.

The views from the top of Mount Kinabalu over some 4,000m is spectacularly captured by Mikio Hasui and his trusty Plaubel Makina. He encountered abundant rainfall and got soaked through to his equipment and clothing.

© Mikio Hasui

Despite the challenges, the images from his series Water Mountains are superbly photographed and provide viewers who have not made the climb yet, an enticing glimpse of the breathtaking flora and mountainscapes of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In direct contrast to Hasui’s colour images, Inochi is Malaysian photographer Stacy Liu‘s poster size black and white wallpaper print series, of the Aokigahara forest close to Mt.Fuji is immersive and experiential. Stacy ventured into the forest, known as a place for many who would eventually find solace in death, with an open mind to reassure herself.

© Stacy Liu

“The more I researched, the more I felt compelled to discover my own truth about Aokigahara Jukai and experience its life force for myself.” ~Stacy Liu

Symphony is the series title of Nana Safiana‘s black and white documentary photographs of the surrounding streets of Fujishiyoda and Fujikawaguchiko cities, close to the base of Fuji-san. Nana specifically based herself in these cities, and avoided the cliché picture postcard views of the iconic peak, roaming in the back streets and alleyways with camera in hand, often encountering sublime scenes of overgrown yards, abandoned cars, lonely parks and rear gardens; often catching the odd elusive glimpse of the revered mountain.

© Nana Safiana
© Nana Safiana

Her camera craft is honed from previous photojournalism training and a sympathetic approach to story-telling through her belief that one can always discover beauty in the mundane. Symphony is presented as a video projection.

© Nadirah Zakariya

Fuji-san Love Letters by Nadirah Zakariya is a portrait project essentially about the passing of time and nostalgia. Nadirah spent a year in Japan in her teens and this project examines the revisiting of familiar places and how a sense of belonging often grounds a person or communities to a place, with the common unifying factor that may be symbolic, historic or social. In this case, the focus for her portraits is Fuji-san, a symbolic as well as a geolocation for her subjects.



Exhibition runs from 24.11.2018 to 27.01.2019

Venue : Ilham Gallery, Level 3, Ilham Tower
No 8, Jalan Binjai


24 November 2018 / Saturday – Opening Reception 4:00pm ~ 6:00pm – All Welcome : RSVP email to

25 November 2018 / Sunday – Panel Discussion with artists, Q&A 2:00pm ~ 4:00pm – All welcome

12  January 201901 December 2018 / Saturday – Workshop – HAIKU IN PHOTOGRAPHIC EXPRESSIONS WORKSHOP with Nadirah Zakariya and Stacy Liu – registration with gallery – 2:00pm ~ 4:00pm

Assemble poetic moments in your photographs to create ‘visual poetry’. The artistic photo series usually comprises a visual journey which can be read similarly to poetry. This experimental session will bring together the creative resources of the facilitators and participants in assembling mini-photo series which may be influenced by haikus or poems, referencing the peaks of Mt.Fuji and Kinabalu.

02 December 2018 / Sunday – CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY FOR CHILDREN with Nana Safiana and Nadirah Zakariya – Fee RM20/child – registration with gallery – 11:00am ~ 1:00pm

Join TM3.0 photographers Nana Safiana and Nadirah Zakariya for a fun afternoon making images in the surroundings of ILHAM and learn creative techniques in posing, props, and basic exposure controls.

To Be Confirmed
The Print in Photography hosted by HP DesignJet Malaysia – presentation and talk about the importance of the photographic print, colour controls and print media.

All events take place at ILHAM Gallery


Admission to ILHAM is FREE

TUE – SAT: 11.00am ~ 7.00pm
SUN: 11.00am ~ 5.00pm
Closed on Mondays & Public Holidays

Special acknowledgment to HP DesignJet Malaysia and Photo Media for sponsoring the exhibition prints and Ilham Gallery for hosting the event.