Pose and click. Click and post. Photography has evolved into the most accessible medium of our time, especially with the proliferation of smartphone cameras and social media. However, as we snap away to capture moments of everyday life for personal use, to what extent is photography shaping the way we view the world, and how we want others to view ourselves?
Living Pictures: Photography in Southeast Asia spotlights 150 years of photography in the region, tracing the functions and influences of the compelling visual medium. The exhibition features the evolution and diverse display of some 300 works – ranging from colonial archival images, studio portraits and documentary photography to photo albums, social media photos and modern interventions, both offline and online. Visitors can look forward to court photos of Thai royalty by one of the first Asian photographers and photographs of the Vietnam War by late Singaporean journalist Terence Khoo alongside images by former Associated Press photographer Nick Ut, who photographed Napalm Girl (1972), and international acclaimed British photographer, Don McCullin.
Starting with photography’s first arrival in Southeast Asia in the mid-1800s, the exhibition will show how photography had its beginnings as a tool of European exploration before it took on a more local, cosmopolitan perspective through studio photography. Greatly employed to prompt discussions of social issues, capture historical events, snapshots of daily life and the realities of wars, photography also had a role in the development of visual culture in Southeast Asia.
Setting itself apart from the usual photography exhibitions, Living Pictures showcases its photos in a variety of modes and mediums, including an immersive 3D installation work by Vietnamese artist Dinh Q Lê which features over 500 individual photographs, and a retail shop of photo postcards to bring home as a souvenir! Visitors could also jump into the photobooths and zine-making areas to spark your creative freedom or engage live with four notable photographers from the region – Nguan, Shwe Wutt Hmon, Veejay Villafranca and Agan Harahap – on the Gallery’s Instagram page (@nationalgallerysg).
The opening weekend (2 – 4 December 2022) will feature an enriching line-up of artist talks, presentations and curator tours to elucidate photography’s influence on visual culture and history.
Venue: Singtel Special Exhibition Gallery, City Hall Wing, Level 3, National Gallery Singapore
When: 2 Dec 2022 - 20 Aug 2023, 10am - 7pm
By: National Gallery Singapore