In the 1800s Singapore, Chinese and Indian coolies arrived to seek a living. They were involved in hard labour, and suffered much hardship. As Wai Lin Coultas, a former teacher, editor and freelance writer, wrote in her article The Coolies of Singapore, “We should celebrate the mass migration of coolies into Singapore. They gave this country the manpower needed to create the foundations that enabled us to go from third world to first since achieving independence.”
Most of the works in charcoal and oil, depict the lives of coolies in the 1800s. Oon used archival photography as source material. She approaches her subject with a cool distance, self-aware of the cultural filters and underlying power dynamics of archival processes.
OVER/TIME is a tribute by May Oon, to the unsung heroes (past and present) who often perform back-breaking jobs and who are not given the respect and compassion they deserve.
Venue: The Private Museum, 51 Waterloo Street #02-06, Singapore 187969
Hours: 10 am to 7pm from Monday to Friday, and 11 am to 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday.
When: 3 - 17 Jul 2015,