11F (17th Aug. 2018) | Helen Gray

11F (17th Aug. 2018)

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This white house along Jalan Mariamah is the home of '11F', a recent addition to the creative cultural space of Johor Bahru.

I first encountered this space when it hosted a talk by the photographer Ernest Goh as an event in the Iskandar Learning Festival 2018. Lawrence and I walked past this building several times before we realised that this was the place; subtlety is their thing! 

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Ernest Goh gave a fascinating talk about how he got into photography and spent much of his early years photographing disaster zones, such as the devastation caused by the 2004 tsunami in Aceh, and the lock down in Singapore hospitals during SARS outbreak in 2003. 

I think that recording doom and gloom for too long must be quite trying, so he then took a long break and emerged with a new vision to photograph the usual and make it unusual! I don’t think he would say this as such, but this is my interpretation. He produced a book of photos of fish in extraordinary poses. Next, he discovered a group of Malaysians who bred show-cocks, cocks who naturally posed and strutted the stage to win the equivalent of a beauty pageant. His photographs are truely stunning and show how a great photographer can make the ordinary extraordinary.

After this meeting, I decided to go back to 11F to find out more, afterall they are just around the corner from where I live.

The founders of 11F are Curly (who runs the Bon Bon Cafe) and Sam Wong (a hairdresser). They were business neighbours in Taman Molek some 16 years ago and set up a joint space for local artists to use as an art market every couple of months. This event proved popular so they decided to combine forces and move their business to 11F to set up a creative space for small enterprises to rent space and function as a community. It took almost two years to renovate the building, and they have incorporated an AirBnB business here too. They were soon joined by Irene Tan of Miss Irene & Craft who has a vintage arts and craft shop in 11F. Ernest Goh joined them in June 2018 with a dark room space, and now they have graphic designers and other independent creatives in the building. Their aim is to have the random collision of talents, to be non-conformists, and to be a place where people can work together, chill together, and share experiences together.

So, if you are looking for something different, where you can mingle with other creative people, then check their FB page for upcoming events.

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