Final fortnight to view photo and video works from three collections (1/3)

Still Moving –  A Triple Bill on the Image, yes, photo and video art from three collections, namely:

Afterimage: Contemporary Photography from South East Asia (in collaboration with the Singapore International Photography Festival);

Time Present: Contemporary Photography from the Deutsche Bank Collection;

and last but not least, Image and Illusion: Video Works from Yokohama Museum of Art.

The four-month long exhibition currently held at SAM@8Q, the annex of Singapore Art Museum, is coming to a close on 8th February 2015. There are about 50 pieces/sets of works to be seen and I promise there will be at least one that will leave a special and lasting impression on you.

Afterimage has a lot of social stories to tell, past and present, including natural and man-made crises. There is also the perpetual question of whether photography is a real proof of time, I see the question being asked by John Clang’s Time (Wall Street) and Time (Chinatown) (level 2 gallery).

Then there is a sweet yet “touchy and scratchy” representation of relationships between loved ones, and we are all guilty of trying to control the one(s) we love in one way or another at some point in time, causing frustration or even rebellion, Liana Yang’s What My Pussy Loves (staircase between level 1 & 2) tells it all. Then again, it’s still an overload of lovey-dovey at the end of the day, you will love the pink wall!

The clean-cut presentation of manipulated photographs of striking orange and blue by Yee I-Lan attracts my attention immediately. Perhaps because the concern behind this work indeed deserves some long-overdue attention.

Yee has been writing up statements, and one of them has been made the title of and encrypted into this work. You really don’t have to be a genius or a master code-cracker to see it. Step back and start using your senses.

the sun will rise in  the east and deliver us from this long night Yee I-Lan

The work,  The Sun will Rise in the East and Deliver Us from this Long Night (level 1 gallery), may be seen as an expression of the grievances of the marginalised Malaysians living in Borneo, whereby the Borneo part of Malaysia is commonly known as East Malaysia, versus the Malayan Peninsula a.k.a. West Malaysia; Yee sees it as “a form of visual incantation that she recites during her engagement in political street demonstrations in Malaysia, hoping that The Sun will Rise in the East…”, a daily affair that we take for granted, yet it can actually be something some people have been hoping for in their whole life.

interlocking arms with the other physical elements of the embrace filtered by a blue surface

interlocking arms with the other physical elements of the embrace filtered by a blue surface

With regards to the interlocking arms in an embrace, the wall caption says, “…domination is always the politicians’ remit played against people’s empathy and compassion on the ground, as manifested in the act of embracement, physical and metaphorical.” I don’t really get what the caption means, the act of embracing in each of the photos does remind me of my wonder about the extent of sincerity whenever I see politicians embracing each other in the news though.

Before moving upstairs to more works of Afterimage, let me show you Michael Shaowanasai’s two photographs of himself, entitled Portrait of a Man in Habits 1, as well as Portrait of a Man in Habits 2 (level 1 gallery).

The former (larger self-portrait) depicts Shaowanasai, a practising Buddhist and a gay man, in rather heavy make-up with a smile, dressed in a monk’s robes and holding a pink girly handkerchief.

The latter (smaller self-portrait) is a follow-up piece in response to the larger piece being rolled up at the exhibition Alien (gener)ation in Bangkok in the year 2000, after the larger photographic work stirred controversy and causing a protest from the Thai Buddhist Association.

portrait of a man in habits 1 and 2 Michael Shaowanasai

Now imagine this, you see the larger photograph on show in an exhibition, and then it is rolled up, so you can no longer see it. Very soon afterwards, you see the smaller photograph put up next to the rolled up larger one. Look at his facial expressions, and I leave the rest to you.

In part 2/3, I will tell you about a couple more works of Afterimage, followed by an introduction to the Deutsche Bank’s showcase – Time Present.