Being Together first started as a part of a long continuation body of work that focus on my relationship with my family.
I wanted to create a very basic family portrait with a memorable experience for all members. I want the process to be ‘inclusive’ of them and their willingness to participate is an important part of this project. Also, the marking of time is always a consistent consideration in my projects.
In this case, I want to show the technology aspect of the time we are living in. Skype naturally comes to my mind as I came from a generation before the existence of such technology. As for my parents, they’re only experiencing it for the first time at a very late stage in their life. With that in mind, I start to devise my project around the possibility to include this detail.
Being a purist, I have always maintained a strong and stubborn emphasis to my work process. It is of utmost importance for the photo session to be real time instead of a photo composite. The orchestration of such session can be challenging but intriguing. Honestly, we have no idea how the shoot will turn out until we get connected and turn on the projection. I love the fact that regardless of how prepared I am, there’s always that uncertainties in the process. Such uncertainties fuel me.
After I had worked on the portraits with my family, I started thinking that this will be a great opportunity to extend the series to include other families. Why? This will allow us to have various family portraits for further analysis, observing the various underlying dynamics among them.
I decided to focus on purely Singaporean families to allow more accurate comparison due to similar cultural backgrounds. It was difficult to convince Asian families to participate in an art project, exposing themselves to the world. I see this challenge as a necessity as I want the series to be very singularly focus.
This body of work is widely published on newspapers and magazines in different countries and also shown on various websites and social media sites. It caught the attention of the Skype team and they approached me for a collaboration together. They have been very respectful to my art process and gave me total freedom on what I want to do. After numerous conversations, I came onboard and we created four unique family portraits.
Right at this moment of writing, I have been invited to an exhibition in Florence at Centre for Contemporary Culture Strozzina titled ‘Family Matters‘ with my Being Together series. I will be exhibiting alongside Thomas Struth, Nan Goldin, Hans Op de Beeck, Sophie Calle, etc. Yes, I am humbled, honored and elated :-)
Photographs & Text: John Clang, Singapore | Website: www.johnclang.com