An Ocean of Possibilities

4 11 2014

In An Ocean of Possibilities, we may find a sea of change. A photography exhibition brought to Singapore through a collaboration between Singapore International Photography Festival (SIPF) and Noorderlicht International Photo Festival in Groningen, An Ocean of Possibilities features the thought provoking works of 34 internationally acclaimed photographers who find unlikely forces for change in the midst of  the trials and tribulations of tragedy, conflict and upheaval.

Finding out how a camera obscura works in An Ocean of Possibilities.

Hands-on in finding out how a camera obscura works in An Ocean of Possibilities.

It is a theme that SIPF Festival Director, Gwen Lee, says that Singapore is no stranger to, having overcome many obstacles in charting its course through to an improved future. To Ms Lee,  the ocean “signifies a test of our courage, imagination and capabilities to take the path less trodden”, a path that is taken by the subject in the works.

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The exhibition at the ArtScience Museum, which opened on 31 October 2014 and will run until 28 December, sees over 200 works – photographs and videos, on display. Among the photographs are the works of two Singaporeans, Zhao Renhui and Lim Weixiang in the 34 that have been selected from over 1000 submissions.

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The works that I thought were especially provoking are those of Alex Masi, Ana Galan, Matthew O’Brien and Loulou d’Aki. Masi’s Bhopal Second Disaster is particularly so in examining the continuing fallout of the Bhopal disaster, 30 years on, through a series of haunting images. In all this, Masi finds hope in adversity, a hope that a population abandoned by those who should be making wrongs right, have found from within.

Photographs from Alex Mesi's Bhopal Second Disaster.

Photographs from Alex Masi’s Bhopal Second Disaster.

d’Aki also finds hope in the future – through the faces of the youth of the Middle East and in their dreams and ambitions in Make A Wish, while O’Brien finds beauty in the common folk of Colombia in lives where the threat of violence and misery is ever present through a series of Polaroids in No Dar Papaya. In Galan’s In a Quest for Utopia, we are made to take a look at a Myanmar, which in spite of democratic reforms, continues to be dominated by the politics of the past half a century. Galan’s work sees a homage paid to activists who in continuing a fight for freedom put their lives and their own personal freedom at risk.

Ana Galan's portrait of Nay Yee Ba Swe with the words of Article 37 of the Burmese Constitution superimposed.

Ana Galan’s portrait of Nay Yee Ba Swe with the words of Article 37 of the Burmese Constitution superimposed.

Polaroids from Matthew O'Brien's No Dar Papaya.

Polaroids from Matthew O’Brien’s No Dar Papaya.

Loulou d'Aki's Make A Wish - hope for the future seen in the faces of the youth of the post Arab Spring Middle East.

Loulou d’Aki’s Make A Wish – hope for the future seen in the faces of the youth of the post Arab Spring Middle East.

A quite enjoyable part of the exhibition are the interactive activities that Hands On Lenses, curated by artscientist Isabella Desjeux, that visitors can participate in. Participants will be able to make their own magnifier, understand how a camera obscura works and use their smart phones to take photos of magnified objects. Hands On Lenses workshops will be conducted by Isabella Desjuex on 8 and 9 and 22 November, 13 and 20 December. In addition to this, Marina Bay Sands’ resident photographers will be conducting two courses, Photographing Stories on 23 and 30 November and Shooting Travel Photos like a Pro on 13 December.

Hands on Lenses.

Hands on Lenses.

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In addition to this, ArtScience Museum will also be organising a free symposium on 8 November, Digital Frontiers: Exploring the context of Digital Imaging. This will see academic experts in the art and science field, Dr Vasillios Vonikakis from Advanced Digital Sciences Center and Associate Prof Oh Soon-Hwa from Nanyang Technological University exploring how digital photography has changed our perception of images today. The session will also include a discussion on how technological advances have spurred greater progress in key areas within the artistic and scientific domains.

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More information on the exhibition and workshops can be found at the ArtScience Museum’s site and also the SIPF website. A exhibition guide can be downloaded here.

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The ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu 2014

12 08 2014

The prestigious photography award that recognises the Singapore best of the best in photography, the ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu, returns for a fifth year. As with the award of the previous years, an exhibition of works of the award nominees will be held, this time around in conjunction with the Singapore Night Festival at the Stamford Gallery of the National Museum of Singapore from 20 August to 5 September.

Lavender Chang: Eldest Daughter (2011)

An additional highlight of the exhibition will be an interactive room on which Martell and ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu 2013 winner Sarah Choo have collaborated on. The presentation will attempt to draw parallels between both photography and cognac making and is intended to convey the message of how discernment in the details is important to both.

Wilfred Lim: Superhero (From the series ‘Self Portraits’, 2013)

Jeannie Ho: Brunch Is The Order Of The Day (From the series ‘All In Between’, 2012)

Also to look forward to during the period of the exhibition is the visit of Martell Heritage Ambassador Christophe Pienkowksi, formerly a chef at the Chateau de Chanteloup (where Martell entertains its guests). Pienkowski’s gastronomic expertise and knowledge of Martell cognacs lends to the expert pairing of different cuisines with the various marques of Martell cognacs for which he will share and make recommendations. 

Eugene Soh: Venus & Grace Edition 30 (2012)

During the period of the exhibition, visitors will also be able to complete the Martell experience at a pop-up bar that will serve Martell cognacs and cocktails.

Ang Song Nian: Detour No. 3 (From the series ‘Many Detours : Washed-­‐out & Interrupted’, 2011)

The nominees for the award this year are:
  • Ang Song Nian
  • Eugene Soh
  • Jeannie Ho
  • Ken Cheong
  • Lavender Chang
  • Neo Xiaobin
  • Wilfred Lim
More information on last year’s awards and winners can be found at this link.




Annie Leibovitz at the ArtScience Museum

19 04 2014

On now at the ArtScience Museum is Annie Leibovitz – A Photographer’s Life, 1990 – 2005, a retrospective showcase featuring some 200 works of celebrated photographer Annie Leibovitz. The exhibition, which made its debut in Brooklyn in 2006, offers visitors a glimpse not just at works that will instantly be recognisable, but also right into the personal side of Ms. Leibovitz’s life with many portraits of the people who she had been close to.

Annie Leibovitz, through the crowd of reporters and photographers at the ArtScience Museum.

Annie Leibovitz, through the crowd of reporters and photographers at the ArtScience Museum.

It is the people who are close to you – staying close to home, that Ms Leibovitz advises photographers to do. It was one of several insights provided by her as she brought guests on a preview of her exhibition earlier this week, during which she spoke not only about some of the famous images such as that of the pregnant Demi Moore, but also about what is found in some of her more personal work. It is from this personal side that we were to discover her favourite is from – a photograph she took of her mother, an unsmiling portrait of which her father was initially rather critical of.

Annie Leibovitz on her favourite photograph - an unsmiling portrait that she took of her mother.

Annie Leibovitz on her favourite photograph – an unsmiling portrait that she took of her mother.

A rather interesting story that Ms Leibovitz did share was of  infamous portraits that she took of Queen Elizabeth II in 2007 – a commission she got some 5 years after she had first written to the British monarch’s press secretary for an unrelated shoot. The press secretary had remembered the letter when on the look out for an American photographer to take portraits of the Queen in the lead up to an intended visit to the US – which Ms. Leibovitz does say can be a lesson in perseverance. The shoot during which the Queen wasn’t apparently in the best of moods, did in the eyes of Ms Leibovitz, show the sense of duty that the Queen did have.

Annie Leibovitz on her portrait of the Queen.

Annie Leibovitz on her portrait of the Queen.

Annie Leibovitz – A Photographer’s Life 1990-2005, which has toured the US, Europe, Sydney, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sydney and Seoul, will be on at the ArtScience Museum from 18 April until 19 October 2014. More information on the exhibition and on ticketing can be found at the ArtScience Museum’s site.

Many instantly recognisable works of Ms. Leibovitz are on display.

Many instantly recognisable works of Ms. Leibovitz are on display.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the ArtScience Museum will be running a series of Portraiture Photography courses starting in June 2014. The courses aim to offer enthusiasts with a keen interest in portraiture photography a better understanding of the techniques and approaches to capturing the portraits. The courses, over seven weekends from June to October 2014, will be conducted by Steven Yee, a trainer with Knowledge Bowl Training and Consultancy and are priced at S$200 per course, booking for which can be made from 23 April 2014 through all Marina Bay Sands ticketing channels:

  • Course 1: Portrait photography using available lighting and artificial lighting [14 and 15 June; 13 and 14 September]
  • Course 2: Candid and formal portrait photography [28 and 29 June; 27 and 28 September]
  • Course 3: On location styling (lighting, make-up, styling, posing) [16 and 17 August]
  • Course 4: Documentary portraiture (informal photography in settings) [12 and 13 July; 18 and 19 October]

 

 

 

Annie Leibovitz at the ArtScience Museum

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Celebrating Orchard on National Day

10 08 2013

Celebrating Orchard is an exhibition of photographs I helped the National Heritage Board (NHB) put together for a National Day event. The one day exhibition at the Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza offers perspectives of Singapore’s well known shopping district, commonly referred to as ‘Orchard’ through  a series of photographs – those of eight individuals including myself who have made first impressions of the street and its environs at different periods of its development, post-independence.


Photographs I exhibited:

Reflections

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I love how reflections can sometimes offer interesting perspectives such as these reflections I captured off an Orchard Road shop window, which does represent how I see Orchard’s transformation over the years since my first impressions were formed. The street is now one that is rich in flavour and colour. Full of excitement, it now has an appeal which goes far beyond the shopping and dining venues it is known for and is very much where Singapore comes alive.


The Motor End

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An early impression I had of Orchard was of its car showrooms. Several were found at the ‘Motor End’. It was where my father was to purchase the first five cars he owned from. Three were from Borneo Motors (two Austins and later a Toyota), as well as one from Universal Cars (a Ford) and another from Malayan Motors (a Morris). The building which housed Malayan Motors is one which has survived and is currently occupied by MDIS.


Runway Orchard

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Orchard has always been one to celebrate fashion. Back in the 1960s it became home to trendsetting designer and hairstylist Roland Chow when Roland’s opened on the street. The internationally recognised fashion hub now celebrates in a big way, shutting itself to traffic one evening a year when it transforms itself into a fashion runway for Fashion Steps Out @ Orchard.


About Celebrating Orchard

Orchard Road or ‘Orchard’, as the street and its surroundings is commonly referred to, has over the years offered very different experiences to its many visitors. Lined with car showrooms and several memorable places to shop at the point of Singapore’s independence, it has become a focal point of the new and exciting Singapore. It is where the heart and soul of Singapore can perhaps be found.

Celebrating Orchard explores the famous street through the eyes of eight photographers, who having had their first impressions of the street made during different periods of its development, offer a different take on Orchard Road.

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Other photographers who exhibited:






First Journeys, Last Goodbyes at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station

5 09 2012

For anyone interested in visiting Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, you will be glad to know that it will be opened for a motoring heritage exhibition this weekend (8 / 9 September 2012). Beside the vintage car display that will be put up by the Malaysia Singapore Vintage Car Register (MSVCR), there will also be a chance to take rides on vintage mini-buses and scooters as well as revisit one of the main reasons why many visited the station before its closure – food. As part of the event, there will be an exhibition along the wider theme of transportation heritage for which the National Heritage Board (NHB) which has organised this event has invited me to help put together an exhibition of photographs from the community on the railway and the station. For this, I have got a group of various people that have an interest in the railway and the station to reflect on the journeys made and the last goodbyes that were said in a small exhibition ‘First Journeys, Last Goodbyes’. The exhibition will be opened from 10 am to 5 pm on both days and there will be free shuttle buses at half hour intervals from Tanjong Pagar MRT Station through the day. For those interested in learning more about the station’s history and architecture, guided tours of the station will also be conducted on both days.

A last goodbye on 30 June 2011.


About First Journeys, Last Goodbyes

For close to five decades after Singapore’s independence, the Malaysian railway continued to operate through Singapore on a piece of Malaysia that cut a path into the heart of Singapore. It was perhaps one of the last physical reminders of the common history that the two countries shared.

The southern terminal at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station completed in 1932, was modelled after Helsinki’s Central Station to give it a grand appearance for its intended role. That role, the grand southern terminal of a pan-Asian railway and a gateway to the Pacific and Indian Oceans, was one it never got to play, serving instead as a focal point of any rail journey into or out of Singapore.

The station best remembered for the high vaulted ceiling with huge panels of batik styled mosaic murals of its main hall was one that saw many visitors over the years. That, the experience of the station, as well as the many personal journeys taken through the station would have left a deep impression.

First Journeys, Last Goodbyes brings a few travellers each with a personal story to share of their journeys, journeys on railway or through the station … journeys that will take a long time to be forgotten …

Contributors to the community photo exhibition are Zinkie Aw, Francis Siew, Loke Man Kai, Tan Geng Hui and myself.


Information received on 7 Sep 2012 on the weekend public tours of the station:

The tours will be conducted by PMB’s Volunteer Guides. No sign-ups are required for the tours. Public tours will be:
• Sat, 8 Sep: 2pm, 3pm and 4pm.
• Sun, 9 Sep: 2pm and 3pm






The ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu 2012 Award

22 08 2012

The Martell Cordon Bleu Heritage exhibition to mark the 100th anniversary of the celebrated name in Cognac and the ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu 2012 Photography exhibition drew to a close this evening. The closing of the exhibition at the Timeless Capsule , a temporary art gallery outside ION Orchard, also saw an awards ceremony during with the winners of the ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu 2012 awards were unveiled. Besides the top prize which was won by Edwin Koo, there were Discernment Awards given out to two photographers, Jeremy San and Ernest Goh and for the first time, an Eternal Discovery Prize based on public voting created for the centenary celebration, awarded to Wesley Loh. The title prize brings with it $30,000 in cash, a trip to Cognac, France and the chance to publish a photography book of his works, the Discernment Awards carries a cash prize of $8,000 each, while the Eternal Discovery Prize is worth $1,000 and an exclusive Centenary Limited Edition set of Martell Cordon Bleu.

Edwin Koo came prepared with a speech …

The winners were selected from nine nominees and picked by a jury of international and local judges who looked at the strength of the photographer’s portfolio, a body of work that shows a coherent vision, unique points of view as well as skillful and well-developed artistic expression. This year’s jury consists of Madame Agnes de Gouvion Saint-Cyr, photography curator and writer; Mr Ian Berry, Magnum Photographer; Ms Emmeline Yong, Partner, Objectifs Centre for Photography and Filmmaking; Ms Bridget Tracy Tan, Director, Institute of Southeast Asian Arts & Art Galleries, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and Ms Charmaine Leung, Director of Marketing, Pernod Ricard Singapore.


About ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu

Organised by Pernod Ricard Singapore, ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu is an annual photography award that recognises Singapore’s most outstanding photographer. As part of Martell Cordon Bleu’s centenary celebrations and to pay homage to this celebrated cognac that has given its name to the award, ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu 2012 was organised around the centenary theme of Eternal Discovery. New elements were introduced to the third edition of ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu.


About the winner Edwin Koo’s portfolio

Edwin Koo (image provided by ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu).

Edwin Koo’s three series, Dreaming of Phayul, Paradise Lost and We Would Be Heroes, shares an overarching theme of “A Strange Place Called Home”, where the concept of home and homeland is explored. Dreaming of Phayul examines the hopes and dreams of Tibetan exiles yearning for a “fatherland” that is no longer theirs, while Paradise Lost, set against the backdrop of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, is an investigation into the notion of physical paradise as home. Meanwhile, We Would Be Heroes dwells on the heroic ambitions of young Nepali men and women to free their homeland from feudalism, only to end up estranged from home as the civil war ended.


A selection of Edwin Koo’s works (images provided by ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu):





A timeless capsule

3 08 2012

Step outside ION Orchard, it would be hard not to notice a temporary structure that has made an appearance close to the corner where Orchard Road and Paterson Road meets. What will probably draw one to it would be the name ‘Martell Cordon Bleu’ – which celebrates its 100th anniversary with an exhibition which traces the history of the celebrated cognac to its origins in 1912 as well as featuring old shipping invoices and newspaper advertisements which provide a link to its presence in Singapore that dates back to the 1930s at the structure named The Timeless Capsule which will be opened to the public from 3 to 22 August 2012 . It isn’t however just the celebration of Martell Cordon Bleu’s centenary that makes it worthwhile to visit what has been touted as Singapore’s largest art gallery, but also another joy – one that celebrates the works of nine nominated ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu photographers – in an annual photography award organised by Martell Cordon Bleu for which the nine will vie for the top prize of $30,000.

Mr Paul-Robert Bouhier, Managing Director Pernod Ricard Singapore introducing The Timeless Capsule.

The photographers have been shortlisted by an expert panel that comprises Ms Kelley Cheng, Creative Director of The Press Room; Mr Russel Wong, celebrated Singapore photographer; Mr Milenko Prvacki, Senior Fellow at LaSalle College of the Arts; Mr Edmund Wee, managing and creative director of Epigram books, and ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu 2011 winner, Mr Sean Lee. They are Mr Albert Lim, Mr Edwin Koo, Mr Ernest Goh, Mr Jeremy San, Mr Roy Zhang, Mr Sam Kang Li, Mr Tristan Cai, Mr Wesley Loh and Mr Yian Huang. Their works are being exhibited in non print form – through the use of a multimedia format. In addition to the cash prize, the winner of ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu will also receive the ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu trophy, a trip to Cognac, France and an opportunity to publish a book of his photographs. The two runners-up will each be honoured with the Discernment Award and cash prize of $8,000. In addition to this, a Eternal Discovery prize worth $1000 has also been introduced this year for the centenary, which will be awarded to the photographer who has obtained the most support through public voting. Votes can be cast online at www.icon-martellcordonbleu.com or at the ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu exhibition in The Timeless Capsule.

Shadows of guests at the opening of The Timeless Capsule each with a glass of Martell Cordon Bleu in hand.

I did not have the time to view all the exhibits by ones that caught my eye immediately the most were the works of Edwin Koo and Yian Huang both of which I found to be extremely evocative. Edwin who has been using photography to tell stories since 2002 had previously worked in the local press before leaving for Nepal in 2008 where pursue his interest to document human displacement and political turmoil. His series, Dreaming of Phayul, Paradise Lost and We Would Be Heroes, features marginalised groups during his time based in Kathmandu, Nepal. In 2011, his works on the Swat Valley was exhibited in the Angkor Photo Festival. His works on the Tibetan exiles were also shown in Photo Quai, in Paris in 2011.

Refugees wait for tea at Sheik Yasin camp, Mardan, Pakistan by Edwin Koo (image provided by ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu).

Edwin Koo (image provided by ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu).

Yian Huang on the other hand had a background in management consultancy before obtaining his Masters degrees from Columbia in International Affairs and Journalism. He covered the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while in the Middle East and has been exhibited at Galerie Steph at Helutrans in Singapore, the Palais du Louvre in Paris, the Singapore Art Museum, and in galleries in Russia, Italy and the US. He has also been published in the Economist, Newsweek, the Peak, and Sports Illustrated; and worked for the Newark Star Ledger based in New York City, and as an intern at the Magnum Photo Agency in Paris.

Work of Yian Huang (image provided by ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu).

Yian Huang (image provided by ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu).

An interesting display in The Timeless Capsule is a specially crafted, one-off piece of the iconic Martell Cordon Bleu cognac bottle by the renowned House of Boucheron. The unique bottle – The Ultimate Jewel which captures the houses’ passion for transforming the finest and rarest of raw materials into either exquisite blends or beautiful, timeless jewellery. The Ultimate Jewel will make a few stops on its international circuit before it is to be auctioned in China at the end of the year.

The Ultimate Jewel (image provided by Martell Cordon Bleu).

The centenary celebrations also sees Martell Cordon Bleu embarking on a charity drive. This would be to raise funds for the beneficiaries of Community Chest. The Martell Cordon Bleu Centenary Charity Drive aims to raise a minimum of $128,800. For the drive 100 exclusive Martell Cordon Bleu Anniversary Gift Sets consisting of a Limited Edition Centenary Bottle, Standard Edition Centenary Bottle autographed by cellar master, Benoit Fil, a Limited Edition photo print and photography book by ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu 2011 Winner, Sean Lee, will be given in appreciation to contributions of a minimum of $1,288 each with all proceeds going to Community Chest.

The light show during the opening of The Timeless Capsule.

Several fringe activities will take place in The Timeless Capsule during the period, including a photography talk, An Eternal Discovery Revealed, on 6 August by the nine nominated photographers; a cognac and chocolate pairing session called Cognac & Chocolate: A Timeless Taste on 8 August (chocolate desserts prepared by the Singapore National Pastry Team will be paired with Martell Cordon Bleu for the public to sample the timeless taste of the cognac at the session). A photography book by ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu 2011 winner, Sean Lee, will also be officially launched on 16 August. All fringe activities are free to the public but registration is required as places are limited. The Timeless Capsule is open everyday from 3 to 22 August between 10am and 10pm. For more information about The Timeless Capsule, please visit www.icon-martellcordonbleu.com.

Claressa Monteiro performing at the opening of The Timeless Capsule.


About ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu – The Exhibition

3 Aug – 22 Aug, 10am – 10pm

The Timeless Capsule, Outside ION Orchard

Admission is free

ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu returns for its third year to recognise Singapore’s most outstanding photographer. In conjunction with Martell Cordon Bleu’s centenary celebrations, ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu will include new elements as part of this 100th year milestone. Curated around the centenary’s theme of Eternal Discovery, the photography exhibition will be presented in a multimedia format, thus taking photography appreciation to a whole new level. ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu will also be awarding the Eternal Discovery prize to the photographer with the most votes. The public can vote online at http://www.icon-martellcordonbleu.com.

The exhibition will be held in a specially constructed gallery called The Timeless Capsule outside ION Orchard. The Timeless Capsule will also host an exhibition on the heritage of the legendary Martell Cordon Bleu cognac as well as fringe activities involving art and gastronomy.