Atlantis Has Fallen - An Exhibition By John Kam

Marine pollution and the destruction of coral reefs is not something new. This has been happening on a global scale for years now, with only a small handful that actually care and an even smaller handful of people who try to make a change. We often see dirty beaches, with cigarette butts being one of the most common sights on our beaches these days. In line with that, the ROKOK brooch by @behatico (worn by John in the picture below), is aimed at raising awareness about the trash we discard.

atlantis has fallen - an exhibition by john kamJohn Kam and Hammada Bamadhaj

Photo: John Kam

John Kam (@cvpturesjohn on Instagram) is one of the heroes trying to make a change. This adman owns a company that does storytelling for quality living and it’s called Gentle Rice. With a background in advertising, his venture into photography is a rather interesting one. John got into conceptual photography in March 2018 when he had to do a university assignment and never looked back since - a great decision, seeing as all his work thus far has been nothing short of genius. The completion of a project is dependent on the people John works with, so the process can go on for as long as a few days to a few months. Keeping the big picture of the project in mind, he then speaks to suitable collaborators and they bring the project to life together. The love this photographer has for his work is clear to see from the way his eyes light up, and he tells us that his entire body of work is near and dear to him.

atlantis has fallen - an exhibition by john kamPhoto: John Kam

John’s inspiration comes from the multitude of ideas and information he has in his mind, accumulated from documentaries and videos on history, culture and fine arts. His surroundings also play a huge role in the inspiration behind his work. Having grown up in a nature-loving family, it was only natural for him to develop love and awareness for the environment. Noticing the decline in the states of our coral reefs, he then decided to utilise his platform to shed light on the issue of marine pollution and coral decline. 

atlantis has fallen - an exhibition by john kamPhoto: John Kam

Recently, John released Atlantis Has Fallen - a series of powerful images he directed and shot with local makeup artist Hammada Bamadhaj (@hammadart on Instagram). Other collaborators in the project include Mosesism (@mosesism2016), Jade Mae Lee (@j.maeys), Bowei Lee from @boldea.my and LingJie Tuang (@lingjiedoes) from @kindasorta.cool.

The pieces in this series showcase an array of possibilities: one by collective action towards conservation and the other as a result of inaction. The juxtaposition of a clean, colourful reef against that of a filthy, polluted reef is like a cold, hard slap to the face. Exclusive screenings of “Birthplace” also evoked memories of an ocean that was once beautiful and unpolluted. Julian of Reef Check Malaysia, an organisation dedicated at preserving our coasts, was also present there to lend his voice to the cause, educating us on the better decisions we can make that will impact our surroundings.

atlantis has fallen - an exhibition by john kamPhoto: John Kam

Coral reefs are extremely necessary for the continued well-being of our planet, and conservationists around the world are in a haste to ensure these reefs survive. Drastic action is necessary if we are to save them, and future generations can only expect a world completely different from the one we live in today.

atlantis has fallen - an exhibition by john kamPhoto: John Kam

There is no one-size-fits-all approach towards saving our environment and while raising awareness is a great first step, promoting tangible, impactful action is something else altogether. Knowing that there are plenty of articles and videos on climate change, John’s use of photography to tackle this issue serves as a platform to spark conversation between NGOs, environmentalists and art enthusiasts, uniting these people to drive collective action towards conserving our coral reefs. Julian from Reef Check said it best: The best way is through conscious decision making towards consumption and buying only when necessary. 

If you would like to see more from John, there will be pieces from his series MEMBAWANG and SKINDEEP in GMBB from September 12-18 and in Ruang @ Think City from September 23-29. Like a wave of nostalgia, MEMBAWANG celebrates and emulates the sense of community and harmony that seems to have lost its presence in modern times while SKINDEEP tells the story of individuals who have lived under the Malaysian skies, regardless of their nationalities. If you would to join International Coastal Clean Up Day 2019 organised by Reef Check Malaysia, register at cleanup@reefcheck.org.my.

By: Celestine Foo