HASHIM, Ismail, Seats of bicycles of Penang port labourers
A graphic designer, painter and educator, Ismail Hashim was best known for his meticulously hand-coloured black-and-white photographs of daily Malaysian life. Hashim chose to work in photography for its capacity to record things as they are, finding the opportunity for self-expression in selecting objects ‘sitting together at the moment in which they are captured on film’. This work features 42 bicycle seats of varying condition and type, each belonging to a worker on the docks of Penang, photographed in a consistent style and arranged into a tidy rectangular grid. As with a similar project that documented mailboxes along a single road, Hashim used this serial strategy to celebrate the beauty and complexity of everyday objects that might otherwise go unnoticed, while alluding to broader issues of labour and class.