Feeling Feelings Is Not A Weakness as Shown in Nadirah Zakariya’s latest solo exhibition


“Ever since I was young, I was known as the sensitive kid and it was seen as a weakness,” Nadirah revealed. Nadirah Zakariya is a photographer and producer who is currently having her third solo exhibition at Temu House entitled Feeling Feelings Makes Me, Me (FFMMM).  She then added, “as I grew older and looked back at my life as an artist, I see that wearing my heart on my sleeve is a strength.”

Close to 40 artworks are on display with the earliest being in 2020 right in the midst of the pandemic. There’s a recurring subject of flowers and hands with her current body of work as opposed to her typical portraiture series found in both of her previous solo exhibition, Daughters Ago (2011) and Girlhood (2016). She explained, “as I am now involved in productions surrounded with around 50 to 70 people on set, I shot a lot of flowers for my personal projects to escape from my typical days.”

One of the works displayed as a lightbox in the blue room

“In my own personal practice, it is almost as a gut feeling like the Agar-agar series which was done during the third lockdown. At the beginning of the shoot, I don’t have anything planned out so it was a collaborative effort between me, my agar-agar and my flower,” she added comparing to her production works that are planned out meticulously. She then further explained, “I don’t want anything planned out so it was sort of instinctual and it was an unlearning process as well with me not knowing what to shoot. It was freeing to me and it goes back to the title as well feeling feelings where it is just not about emotion but trusting my instinct as well.”

The main white room that consisted of flower images shot throughout the pandemic

Flowers are well known subjects in the photography world where we can see in the works of Eiffel Chong in his Mud & Mashed Hydrangea Leaves and Salad of Dandelion Greens exhibition or in Eric Peris’ A Flower Does Not Talk series. There’s always something to say with it comes to flowers and according to Nadirah, “flowers are beautiful and during the pandemic, I know that I wanted to be surrounded by something beautiful. What I like about shooting flowers are the processes that it went through from blooming to decaying.”

The blue room that displayed lightboxes

The exhibition is a collaborative effort between multiple parties where Nadirah mentioned, “When planning out with Sharmin, I know that this place is not the typical white cube gallery so I don’t just want to only put works on the wall and be done with it.  The producer side of me decided to collaborate with architects and see how we can work with the space so that’s how R+ came in. Liza Ho from the BackRoom comes in to deal with the sales of the works as I don’t want to deal with it so that I can focus more on the creating. Jiman from JCPR then came in to be our PR for the exhibition.”

Part of Nadirah Zakariya’s self-portrait of her hand

Talking about the exhibition layout, it is divided into three parts which Nadirah called the pink, white and blue room. She then further explained upon that decision, “when R+ laid out all my pictures and I looked through all of them, I realized that there’s a gradient between blue and pink in my work that I did not even realize before this.” They decided to separate it into three different rooms where it reflects the spectrum of emotions from bright (pink) complete with carpets to echo the intimacy to a dark (blue) room where it is filled with lightboxes that shines on like a hope in the darkness.

The pink room full of Nadirah’s self-portrait of her hands

Nadirah added, “The pink room consisted of self-portraits of my hand and a lot of the work have accents of pink in it. R+ then suggested to lay out a carpet to reflect the intimate, comfort and good feeling as opposed to the blue room.”

FFMMM is on display from now until 28th of May 2023 at Temu House in Petaling Jaya where it is open every weekend from 10AM – 6PM. The majority of her work is an ongoing journey of self-discovery and learning to embrace herself for who she truly is, flaws and all, so this exhibition would make others understand more about who Nadirah Zakariya is.

There will be pocket events happening alongside the exhibition and further updates can be found on the exhibition’s Instagram. For more updates on Nadirah, she can also be found on her Instagram and website while her commercial works can be found at her production house’s Instagram, Layar Lucida.

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