Note from Singapore International Photography Festival 2012, part 1

The 3rd Singapore International Photography Festival 2012 opening at National Library Building. Singapore, 5 October 2012. Photo: Budi Dharmawan

The 3rd Singapore International Photography Festival 2012 opening at National Library Building. Singapore, 5 October 2012. Photo: Budi Dharmawan

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.

SIPF Director Gwen Lee (2nd L) introduces the 2012 festival curators on her left (L–R): Alejandro Castellote, Patricia Levasseur de la Motte, and Zeng Han. Singapore, 5 October 2012. Photo: Budi Dharmawan

Some of the festival guests: the tall guy on the left is Seok Jae-Hyun from Korea and the woman in black dress is Format Festival’s Louise Clements from U.K. Singapore, 5 October 2012. Photo: Budi Dharmawan

Two friends from Angkor Photo Workshop 2009: Miti Ruangkritya (L) from Thailand and Huiying Ore (R) from Singapore. Both studied photography in the U.K. Singapore, 5 October 2012. Photo: Budi Dharmawan

Oscar Motuloh of Galeri Fotojurnalistik Antara (GFJA) from Indonesia, is also seen at the opening. Singapore, 5 October 2012. Photo: Budi Dharmawan

Gwen Lee, the Festival Director. Singapore, 5 October 2012. Photo: Budi Dharmawan

Akiq Abdul Wahid (L) and Wimo Ambala Bayang (2nd L) of MES 56 from Indonesia pose with SIPF 2012 Special Showcase artist Thomas Sauvin (R) and his family. Singapore, 5 October 2012. Photo: Budi Dharmawan

Young Indonesian photographer Willis Turner Henry (C) who now lives and works in Singapore has her photographic series “Cimed/Cina Medan (Medanese Chinese)” exhibited at the festival. Singapore, 5 October 2012. Photo: Budi Dharmawan

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.

Jake Verzosa (The Philippines) — “The Last Tattooed Women of Kalinga”

Manuel Vazquez (Columbia) — “Theatrum Mundi”

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.

Anida Yoeu Ali (Cambodia/United States of America) — “Buddhist Bug Project”

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.

Ji Hyun Kwon (South Korea/Germany) — “The Guilty”

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.

Kee Ya Ting (Singapore) — “Inquisitive Investigations”

Kerry Skarbakka (United States of America) — “The Struggle to Right Oneself”

Shen Chao-Liang (Taiwan) — “Stage”

Hu Qiren (Singapore) — “Mian Xiang: The Art of Traditional Chinese Face Reading”

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.

Norihisa Hosaka (Japan) — “Burning Chrome”

Joel Yuen (Singapore) — “If there is something strange about me, I am not aware of it”

To see more and learn about the works, click the images and you will be directed to each artists’s websites. ∎

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2 thoughts on “Note from Singapore International Photography Festival 2012, part 1

  1. Pingback: Note from Singapore International Photography Festival 2012, part 2 | Budi N.D. Dharmawan

  2. Pingback: Note from Singapore International Photography Festival 2012, part 3 | Budi N.D. Dharmawan

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