Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Homescapes :: SG Heart Map

Visitor looking at Darren Soh's 'Facades'.
The photographs captured how "HDB typologies have evolved in 55 years in a collective portrait
of the orderly yet idiosyncratic spaces that the majority of Singaporeans call home."

Stopped by Block 99 Old Airport Road. Went to the early evening launch of 'Homescapes'. It's a pop-up photography exhibition curated by by Gwen Lee, co-founder of SIPF, featuring works by Ang Song Nian, Bob Lee, Darren Soh, George Wong Yung Choon, and Robert Zhao Renhui; with community participation from Raffles' Girls School Photographic Society.

It was nice taking a short stroll around the estate and peering up the blocks into the windows of the residents. I took loads of photos. Considering all these angles, luckily I affixed the wide-angle lens on the camera. Well, I've never seen this many DSLRs at one event attended by residents, curious on-lookers, both professional and amateur photographers. :P Importantly, I think it has reached out to everyone. What is home to us?

The photographic works wrapped around pillars and walls at the void deck explore what home means to each photographer. There's infrastructure and hardware, as well as 'heartware', humans, and flora and fauna. Robert Zhao's 'The Occupants' captured otters, bugs and birds in the most curious of urban nooks. There were buildings and structures, construction, and of housing estates. There were also photos of families in their homes, mainly their living rooms, smiling for the camera. There were a number of panels on the items people collect and display in cabinets too. Little knick-knacks that told different stories in the photographs by Ang Song Nian titled 'A Million Stories of Us'.

Spent some time staring at the different items in people's living rooms in Bob Lee's 'Memory Blocks'. He had photographed portraits of resident families in their common living space since 2009. It's a project of "social realism documenting the ways we live and lived". More than the humans per se, I was curious about what they had in their homes, satisfying the secret voyeuristic streak in me. In one family's living room, (The 'Lim Family at Strathmore Avenue') the walls were full of scale replicas and toys from the comics. There was a R2D2 sitting on the floor that reaches up to a human's mid-calves; a huge Millennium Falcon model sits in a glass case in the middle of the living room, and of course with 'May the Force be with you' in Aurebesh printed on the wall. Woah. Heh.

I grinned. Part of the definition of home would be eating or cooking food the way we remember it. What's more apt than this void deck that's just 100m from Old Airport Road Food Center that offers every taste of the yesteryears? Of course later on the friends and I went over for an after-event meal at the food center.

'Homescapes' is held till July 5 at the void deck of Block 99 Old Airport Road. It's right next to Dakota MRT station. Go take a quick look!

By now, the lyrics and melodies of Kit Chan's 1998 'Home' are unwittingly firmly lodged in my mind. Heard the song so many times that by now, I can play it on the piano and the guitar without intentionally tabbing out the score. Honestly, it's one of the more catchy 'new' National Day songs. There's Tanya Chua's 2001 'Where I Belong'. I don't remember all those after the ones we were forced to memorize in school, like the 1984 'Stand Up for Singapore', 1986 'Count on Me Singapore', 1987 'We Are Singapore'... And that rather lame 1990 'One People, One Nation, One Singapore' marking 25 years of nation-building.

This year is Dick Lee's 'Our Singapore'. Many of us were stunned when we first heard the song. Okaaaaay. Good luck to the emcees getting the crowd to mass-sing that at the National Day Parade. I'm not even going to try humming it. Wait, I can do the part 'oh-ho-ho-ho-oh-ho' towards the end. 

At the launch of 'Homescapes', as 'Home' blared loudly over the PA system, the volunteers and participants, who were perched upstairs at units, enthusiastically waved red heart-shaped balloons and flipped out red sheets to form two hearts at Block 99. As much as we rolled eyes at the activity, it did look good to the audience and through our camera lenses. Staged? Oh absolutely. We all cringed. Pride? Oddly, yes, fully.

Block 99 Old Airport Road.

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