“My wish is for this book to wander in my stead, exist as a testament to existence, and credibly proffer the possibility of beauty as a balm for everyday sorrow.”
I chanced upon Nguan’s self published “How Loneliness Goes” from his Facebook posting on 25th April. Measuring at 10 inches by 10.5 inches and a print run of 220 signed and numbered copies, “How Loneliness Goes” contains 27 images. All the images were made in Singapore between 2011 and 2013 but his work exist without a beginning or an end, an exercise of wonderment of how life would unfold.
Nguan wrote, “My wish is for this book to wander in my stead, exist as a testament to existence, and credibly proffer the possibility of beauty as a balm for everyday sorrow.” “How Loneliness Goes” unfolds like a movie trailer. Each image could easily be stills from a film, carefully staged but not. They are testimonies to Nguan’s wanderlust and wonderful street photography, pacing the city with his camera and five rolls of 220 film.
While some photographers highlighted the print quality of “How Loneliness Goes”, I love the restraint Nguan exercised. Compared to his earlier tome, “Shibuya” containing 122 images, “How Loneliness Goes” seem un-ambitious with just 27. However, this translates into a tighter edit and a more resonating experience.“How Loneliness Goes“ allows us another opportunity to confront Nguan’s style of the decisive glance. It teases and leaves me yearning for more. While huge retrospectives are must-haves for collectors and students of photographers, “How Loneliness Goes” is a refreshing and timely work. Nguan photos are complex because they suggest a sense of mystery and longing. They serve as reminders of the fragility of human encounters that are easily lost if not photographed. More importantly, they remind us that there are subjects waiting to be photographed in Singapore, our home.
Text by Sebastian Song