I have put up a little note and some photos of people I met during my visit to Singapore in my last post. Starting from this post, I will put up more notes and photographs from the 3rd Singapore International Photography Festival.
Singapore International Photography Festival (SIPF) started in 2008 as a biennial event. For its third edition this year, the festival features work by 50 international photographers—selected by three curators—and showcases them at six venues: National Library Building, The Substation Gallery, Selegie Arts Centre, Singapore Management University (Gallery and Concourse), Societe Generale Gallery at Alliance Française de Singapour, and ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands. Other than exhibitions, SIPF also organizes talk series at Singapore Art Museum’s Glass Hall, evening presentations at National Museum of Singapore’s The Salon, portfolio review, professional workshops, and student education, among other programmes.
I will start with photos from the opening at the National Library Building and the works exhibited there.
The National Library Building hosts works of ten photographers: Jake Verzosa, Manuel Vazquez, Anida Yoeu Ali, Ji Hyun Kwon, Kee Ya Ting, Kerry Skarbakka, Shen Chao-Liang, Hu Qiren, Norihisa Hosaka, and Joel Yuen. The exhibition is held at the library’s Plaza using containers for two reasons: (a) to actually house the exhibited works and (b) to reflect Singapore as a port city.
The simple portraits of old women with tattoos by Filipino photographer Jake Verzosa imply deeper issue. The tattoo of Kalinga is a vanishing art form as young people no longer practice it. For men to have such tattoo, they have to perform acts of bravery like winning tribal wars or fights. Fighting now can make one face criminal charges, but getting the tattoo without fighting is also embarrassing. For women, western values have changed their perception of “beauty”. These reasons have led Verzosa to document these last tattooed women of Kalinga.
In his series “Theatrum Mundi” photographer Manuel Vazquez explores how the city can be seen as a kind of stage where the crowd in it are all actors performing choreographed movements. The images in the series are results of montaging a number of single photographs. He plays with light and shadow to emphasize the feel of a stage performance, where the actors are under the spotlights and everything else is pitch-black.
In “Buddhist Bug Project”, Anida Yoeu Ali covers herself in caterpillar-like costume which has the orange colour of Buddhist monks’ robe. A Cambodian brought up in the U.S. and a Muslim from a Buddhist majority country, Ali creates the project to discuss about identity. The bug acts as a tunnel bridging two different worlds but can not be on either one; it is always caught in-between. The photographs are made from the growing performance project.
In the close-up portraits created by Berlin-based Korean artist Ji Hyun Kwon deals with her guilt by confronting what makes her feel gulty in a straight-forward manner: writing it on her face. She then applies that approach to a number of people from different nationalities. As the writing on their faces are in their respective local language—and characters—the English captions are important for audience to understand the work.
It is also interesting to note how Singaporean young photographer Hu Qiren’s work is displayed as an installation. The portraits are central to his work as it is about traditional Chinese face reading. But not only takes portraits, he also collects and then displays artefacts and old photographs from his subjects to prove the face reading theory. He connects the spots of the subjects’ faces (according to the theory) with the artefacts (the actual facts) using red pins and red thread. He claimed to have picked his subjects randomly among people he had known—which means not that random after all. During the slideshow presentation, he could not explain to a visitor’s question about whether the traditional Chinese face reading theory could have been proven if he photographed poor or unfortunate people he really met randomly on the street.
To see more and learn about the works, click the images and you will be directed to each artists’s websites. ∎