The Klang River Festival 2023 (KRF) returns this week for its second edition, honouring our roots with a theme that’s apt for Malaysia Day – “Tanah Air (Homeland)”.
In this cultural urban festival, which will take place in various locations in Kuala Lumpur from Sept 8-24, you can enjoy a programme filled with fun and engaging activities, including art installations, photo exhibitions, film screenings, workshops, dialogues, guided walks, live music, performing arts shows, markets and many more.
Map out the festival before you head out since activities will be hosted at a number of venues spread along the 120km route of the titular Klang River: upstream (Kampung Warisan at Taman Melawati River Three Park), mid-stream (KongsiKL, Dasein Gallery, Millerz Square, Mid Valley, MIA City Campus, Kongsi Co-Op) and down-stream (Pengkalan Batu, Klang).
Organised by KongsiKL and co-hosted by EXSIM, KRF brings together the communities and small businesses that are located closest to Klang River, while also hoping to raise awareness among the wider Klang Valley community of the river’s significance by revisiting its history and culture.
KRF, a homegrown event, aims to highlight the symbiotic relationship between Kuala Lumpur and Klang River, calling for river rejuvenation, environmental protection and cultural awareness to ensure that the city’s inhabitants can continue to enjoy the river for generations to come.
KRF creative director Joseph Foo and programme director Wyn Hee have assembled a team of over 30 curators and partners to plan out the three main segments for this year's festival, selecting 11 indoor and outdoor venues along the upper, middle and lower reaches of the Klang River as gathering points for nearly 50 events.
"The festival is about celebrating our homeland (tanah air) through dialogues between the arts and the river, especially during September, as our programme runs through Malaysia Day and ends on World River Day. For our participants, I think the issues raised and the beauty of these cultures and habitats around the river are part of what they love about this country. At the same time people want to know how they can better engage with the river, so we would like participants to take away with them a sense of stewardship towards our country and our earth – our tanah air," says Foo, who is also the KongsiKL president.
Be sure to also support the local entrepreneurs and creatives by visiting the creatives’ market, hosted at a different venue on each of the three weekends during KRF. For the adventurous, you can sign up for overnight riverside camping on the weekends of Sept 9-10 and Sept 16-17.
Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur has also arranged "walking art pieces" by Japanese artists Ryo Kobayashi, Fumi Tomioka and Kenichi Abe, while the Selangor State Tourism Board has organised the "Klang River Journey”, a boat tour that brings visitors closer to the river for a better understanding of the surrounding ecology.
Those who plan to take part in the festivities are advised to take public transport. On Malaysia Day (Sept 16), hourly shuttle services between Millerz Square, KongsiKL and Kongsi Co-op will be provided.
Not sure what you should check out? Here are our selected highlights:
EXHIBITION: 'TANAH AIR'
Venue: Dasein Gallery, Dasein Academy of Art, KL
Date: Sept 8-24, 11am-6pm (closed on Mondays)
The Tanah Air exhibition showcases unique perspectives on our homeland through different lenses and senses. The exhibition includes works by artists Jeffrey Lim and Shaq Koyok, as well as the Sensory Photography series, an initiative empowering the self-expressions of the visually impaired. Free admission.
MAHEN BALA: REMEMBERING TOMORROW: A DOCUMENTARY THINKING WORKSHOP
Venue: STU, Dasein Academy of Art
Date: Sept 10 and 17, 2pm-5pm
This workshop is presented by Mahen Bala, a documentarian and visual artist who has dedicated more than a decade to documenting Malaysian culture and history. It aims to redefine documentary as a fluid process. Embracing varied mediums – video, photos, comics, soundscapes, and more – it invites diverse participants: artists, journalists, archivists, and curious minds. Throughout the workshop, expect to engage in dialogues, contemplation, disagreements, and mutual challenges, shaping a fresh perspective on the documentary journey.
LIVE PERFORMANCE: PURNAMA – TERANG BOELAN AND RIVER & SOIL (TANAH+AIR)
Date: Sept 14, 8.30pm
How about a 1950s-era jazzy moonlight experience in an arts warehouse? Here's your show to catch. Jazz outfit WVC, led by pianist-composer-music storyteller Tey Cher Siang, will be presenting a special evening inspired by classic tunes and memories from the Merdeka-era and beyond. The show will also feature musical guests such as Az Samad, Yonlynn, Izen and Tan Jie. Afterwards, do stick around to take in the well-spun words of spoken-word eco-poetry by Faith Foo, Pixie Tan and Ratu Yousei, accompanied by music.
WORKSHOP: PENCIL MILES: KLANG RIVER NATURE JOURNALING WORKSHOP
Venue: Kongsi Co-op
Date: Sept 16, 10am-1pm
Follow Joshua Chow, a passionate nature journaler, as he teaches you how to strengthen your bond with nature through journaling. You will learn how to use words, drawings, photos and numbers to appreciate your natural surroundings in a different way.
You’ll need to bring along a sketchbook or notebook, as well as a ballpoint pen, pencil, colour pencils and a ruler. Registration and a payment of RM20 is required.
WORKSHOP: TANAH & AIR: WEAVING THE RIVER TOGETHER
Date: Sept 16, 10am to noon
This hands-on workshop is open to children and adults alike to express their understanding of what the river means to them. Participants will have the opportunity to add their own artwork, each symbolising either ‘Tanah’ or ‘Air’, into a gigantic loom that represents Klang River. Registration and a payment of RM20 is required.
Venue: IWK Eco Park, Pantai Dalam
Date: Sept 16, 7.30am-10.30am
Here's a programme for the early birds. Did you know that World Cleanup Day is also celebrated on Sept 16? Show your love for Malaysia by taking action to keep her clean. And what better way than by plogging, which involves jogging while picking up any litter that you spot.
Every step you take and every piece of litter you pick up becomes a symbol of hope that reflects our commitment to preserve not only the Klang River, but also the heartbeat of our community.
More info here.