Be water, my friend. That is my take-away for Plug and Play 5 Slideshows at IPA Gallery.
Three speakers – Zhuang Wubin, Edwin Koo and Bob Lee – diverse in every way, and yet similar in many respect.
Slideshow 1: Sources and References: Towards a Historiography of Cambodian Photography, by Zhuang Wubin
When Wubin was introduced as a curator, educator, photographer,researcher and writer, he scoffed. Despite his devotion to the photographic practices within ASEAN, he is reluctant to accept praise. His presentation was on a show he recently curated for the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore entitled “Ruptures and Revival: Cambodian Photography in the Last Decade” (http://vimeo.com/38304123), it featured seven bodies of work made in the last decade, a first attempt to showcase three “generations” of Cambodian photographers within the same exhibition.
Like an ocean, Wubin’s knowledge is deep. His appreciation of the region’s diversity stands testimony to the many years he has spent traveling, studying and interviewing the respective stakeholders. From such understanding, he developed a deep-seated respect for our collective heritage. Hence he is ever ready to defend against any over-simplification and misguided perceptions. His every answer triggered fresh waves of awareness among the audience.
Slideshow 2: Paradise Lost: Pakistan Swat Valley, by Edwin Koo
Edwin spoke next, sharing his project entitled Paradise Lost: Pakistan Swat Valley. Made possible by the Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography, it was a breath-taking essay that exhibited a rare blend of courage and sentimentality. His projects of Pakistan, Tibet and Nepal all revolve around the theme of Home and the displacement of its occupants. Like a river, his works flow rapidly, yet yearning for a brief moment’s rest on shores just passed. Bold and ambitious are his photos, though the journey may only yield irony. For seeking so actively for home, one need only turn around.
Slideshow 3: Various Projects, by Bob Lee
Finally it was Bob’s turn to share. A total of five slideshows, his Holga project of eight European cities entitled Curiocity; his Getai essay ; his one-room flat project, his Living Stones Orphanage project; and his last wish project with the hospice. Though loosely edited, Bob exemplify humanity. Like a garden pond, un-intimidating and welcoming as a long lost friend. He entrusted us with his concerns as a freelance photographer, as a father and as a person. He spoke about life, its fragility and appreciation. The parting tale of one of gratitude, of how life’s greatest challenges can be so easily overcome by a good sense of humor and empathy for others.
With that, we come full circle. To quote a post on the Invisible Ph t grapher Asia blog, photography is never about the craft and the tools, it’s about humanity.
Text: Sebastian Song