The 5th Singapore International Photography Festival opened their first exhibition A room with a view on Friday 19th August at the Earl Lu Gallery, ICA Singapore at LASALLE College of the Arts. The exhibition, curated by Carol Chow, is a smaller adaptation of “A room with a view: Her-Hong-Kong-Stories through the Lens of Six Female Artists” exhibited last year in Hong Kong featuring six female artists: Joe Yiu Miu Lai 姚妙麗, Lam Wai Kit 林慧潔, Law Yuk-Mui 羅玉梅, Lau Wai 劉衛, Wong Wo-Bik 王禾璧 and Yvonne Lo Yuen Man 盧婉雯.
I had curated a Hong Kong & Taiwan Showcase last year for Angkor Photo Festival 2015, and a criticism I got was that I had not included a female artist. A fair call. Regrettably, our open call for the showcase did not see much responses from female photographers and artists. A room with a view was therefore a great opportunity to see what I had missed. I made it a point to see the works and meet the artists Yuk-Mui, Lau Wai, and Yvonne Lo who attended the opening. Joe Yiu, Lam Wai Kit and Wong Wo-Bik will be visiting in October. I had previously met Carol Chow, a lecturer and a researcher at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, during our Visualising Social Stories Hong Kong workshop in June.
A room with a view
Joe Yiu Miu Lai 姚妙麗
Joe Yiu Miu Lai (b. 1978, Hong Kong) uses photography and video to connect and document urban sites in Hong Kong. She is a member of Community Museum Project and ikai.org. Her project Gift (2010) records the reaction of people receiving gifts manifested of the conditions of urbanisation and development in Hong Kong, for example a lost view of the harbour. Returning Home (2013) is a documentation of her former demolished estate.
Lam Wai Kit 林慧潔
Lam Wai Kit (b. 1966, Hong Kong) works with photography and video. Her works often use combinations of images, video and text to question notions of place, self and photography. Which Things Were (Are) Allowed and Which Were (Are) Not is a diaristic record presented on screen, paralleling political surveillance and persecution in Germany and Hong Kong.
Law Yuk-Mui 羅玉梅
Law Yuk Mui (b. 1982, Hong Kong) uses photography, video, text and sound to create multilayered representations of personal experiences. She is a co-founder of the Rooftop Institute and a member of the artist collective Selfish Wild. On Junk Bay, King Lam Est. The Plant (1990–present) is a long-term multi-media meditation on land reclamation in Hong Kong and its effects on plants and biodiversity. The Yellow Portrait (2014), inspired by Eikoh Hosoe’s Ordeal by Roses, examines the intensity of the colour yellow over the glare of white.
Lau Wai 劉衛
Lau Wai (b. 1982, Hong Kong)’s photography explores traces of human presence and identity in historical sites, domestic and urban spaces. In Here (2012–ongoing) and Album (2014–ongoing), Lau Wai examines place and identity through conversations with family albums with vague depictions of her immigrant parents and their hometown and memories in the mainland.
Wong Wo-Bik 王禾璧
Wong Wo-Bik (b. 1949, Hong Kong) is a prominent figure in the Hong Kong photography scene as a practicing artist and co-founder of the Hong Kong International Photo Festival. Wong Wo-Bik’s complex myriad of imagery meditates on place, disappearance and post-colonial histories and identity. Coincidently, her photographs were inspired by a 1930s family portrait in a Singapore mansion, not unlike those in Hong Kong.
Yvonne Lo Yuen Man 盧婉雯
Yvonne Lo Yuen Man (b. 1957, Hong Kong) uses photoshop layering and collage to depict re-imaginings of spaces and places she has visited as an ordinary citizen. She is currently Assistant Professor at the Academy of Film, Hong Kong Baptist University. Hong Kong Stories (2009–2015), inspired by the surreality of American photographer Bea Nettles and printed on lined fabric, depict visceral, unseen qualities of places she has visited as a mother and wife.
A room with a view is good ice-breaker and introduction. To fully appreciate each artist and the breadth of their work, a visit to their websites and a one-on-one conversation is recommended. Curating an exhibition on gender was a chance opportunity, Carol Chow notes, and not a lengthened orchestration. Beyond gender, there is evidently a layered generational discourse in Hong Kong about its past, present and glaring future.
The exhibition showed that there is much to talk about between post-colonial Singapore and Hong Kong. A room with two views would seem to be a natural, desirable follow-up encounter…
Room with a view is now showing till the 16th October at Earl Lu Gallery, ICA Singapore at LASALLE College of the Arts. This year’s SIPF is looking to be the best edition of the festival thus far. Looking forward to Daido Moriyama and especially Li Zhensheng’s Southeast Asia debut exhibitions. More information on the Singapore International Photography Festival website: http://sipf.sg