Five Minutes goes to print
Its been over four years since myself and the writer started out on our road trip with little or no idea to what we were really doing or what the outcome would be. What we saw once putting the pictures and text together was to have an exhibition and possibly a book to showcase the work, but we needed a lot more people and needed a lot more time to complete this project.
When the body of work started to look complete, we approached publishers and sponsors, thinking we shouldn’t have a problem getting either, how wrong we were. We eventually did get a publisher who was interested in publishing the book, what a waste of time they turned out to be, a bunch of pompous expats with nothing better to do. They told us to add more business men, bankers, civil servants, I said our book is about the real Malaysians, not the rich and not the socialites in the city. “but your making Malaysians look poor” he said. I told them, just because the people don’t live in the city, it doesn’t make them poor, they chose to live where they are, they are happy, why wouldn’t they be? They live in towns with little pollution, everyone is friendlier, people walk or cycle to the shops, general cost of living is much cheaper. In Kuala Lumpur on the other hand, if you want a loaf of bread you need to get in your car, get stuck in a jam go to the nearest shopping mall, pay parking, get surrounded by hordes of out of control kids with their maids and oblivious parents, need I go on?
Funny, the only Malaysian in the room full of expats didn’t say a word, being totally intimidated by these old fuddy-duddies, these guys obviously have been in Malaysia way too long, still thinking they can talk down to anyone who is not the same colour as them. Hello hello, I’m not a local and if you havn’t heard, Malaysia gained independence over fifty years ago.
Then there were the sponsors, “why do you have this person and not that person, are you trying to make a political statement?” Can you give us the rights to use your images, sure, and while I’m at it how many pints of my bloody do you need? It’s just all too much, think this is why Siew Ching gave up trying, fed up with all the let downs.
Why can’t people look at it purely as a photographic art book and not some political or sexual statement? Is it such a crime for people to express themselves without the worry of some sort of consequence?
Just after we finished our road trip we were given 28 pages in the 50th Merdeka issue of “Off the edge” from that we got some great feedback from the public, even one business man offered to help one of the families featured by supplying them with groceries ever month, even trying to help them start their own business.
To see my images in ‘Off the edge” and reading the reviews made me realize that “Five Minutes” has to be printed.
I thought printing would be the quite relaxing, just sit there, wait for a page, check and sign off.. ha, I would say boring rather than relaxing, most of the time I was playing Asteroids on my laptop. From 7am until 2am every day for a week, living off a diet of egg muffins and crap coffee from Mcdonalds.
The Last night was the longest, we, my designer and myself stayed there until 5am, bloody shattered but high on sugar. Finally, my book was printed.
A couple of day later, we went to pick up the first book, I specifically asked for the first book off the line, memorabilia and all that.
Curious to see how it looks bound and finished, the printer came out with the first copy, it looked good, my first book ;o)
My designer went through everything, making sure all was how it should be, then she said, I need to take a look at this.. shit, I though, what now?
Here is the list: Borders were cut wrong, some of the stitches were missing, a printed fold mark was going through Tun Mahathir’s head plus many of the other images, Lamination already started to peel off, Ink rubbed off onto blank pages and the worst of all, if there really could get any worse, pages started to fall out after 5 Minutes of handling the book.. if you pardon the pun.
Over one thousand books had to be rejected and my deadline for Malaysia day missed.
I was finally given a new printer, this time based in Ipoh, which was quite handy, as there is a great Japanese restaurant there called Ten good I always go to.
So, another week away, at least I can eat well, and stay in a nice hotel.. what to do?