“Let’s build the city with words”
With the tagline, “to build the city with words”, LiteraCity is a cultural and literature mapping project of Kuala Lumpur. The project aims to open an unconventional discourse, particularly in challenging the ideas of development that often neglects the human dimension to build a more humanized city.
I met Zikri Rahman, Ridhwan Saidi and Nurul Aizam recently at the Kuala Lumpur Literary Festival where they had a booth. Established in November 2015 by the three friends, LiteraCity is a literature based text and cultural mapping project.
Zikri is a quantity surveyor by profession but early this year, decided to work full-time on the LiteraCity project. Zikri is also a writer and podcaster for various portals like Project Dialog, Jalan Telawi and Roket Kini. I observed him while he talked about the project to visitors to the booth. His passion for literature and knowledge was obvious.
Ridhwan Saidi is an accomplished author of 6 novels and a book on poetry. His interest includes short films, photography and painting.
Rounding off the trio is Nurul Aizam, who publishes Moka Mocha Ink, a publication featuring alternative fiction. She is also the editor of NOORZINE, a magazine which she says is under hibernation!
In Zikri’s words, “the project maps neither the contours of the earth, nor the coordinates of a place. It does not want to know what already physically exists. Most importantly, the LiteraCity mapping project aims to uncover the layers of meaning – for this is how literature operates – where the project revolves around three aspects. Space, the building of space and the interpretation of Kuala Lumpur’s body of literature in its process.
In the one year since LiteraCIty was established, more than 150 works of literature with Kuala Lumpur as a backdrop from around 45 years have been studied. More than 30 individuals representing artists, writers and cultural activists in various fields were interviewed, forming a holistic view in mapping the movement of literature and culture in Kuala Lumpur.
The project includes a website with a bibiliographical system for literary works with references to Kuala Lumpur. Literary tours, publication of book and cultural maps are also planned. Of particular interest is the map created to highlight areas in Kuala Lumpur referenced by various books. LiteraCity’s most recent interaction with the public being their booth at the inaugural Kuala Lumpur Literary Festival which was held at Art Printing Works in November, 2016.