THE SINGAPORE INTERNATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVAL MARKED ITS FIFTH YEAR IN 2016, EXHIBITING THE NON-PROFIT BIENNIAL EVENT’S ONGOING MISSION TO SHOWCASE THE WORKS OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN PHOTOGRAPHERS THROUGH EXHIBITIONS, WORKSHOPS AND OUTREACH PROGRAMS.
For almost a decade, what the Singapore International Photography Festival (SIPF) has been trying to communicate and present to the public is not only the perceivable potential of many aspects of ‘photography’ as a form of media, but also the platform it has become for Southeast Asian photographers to express and critique something through their works which could eventually earn them international recognition.
The fifth SIPF taking place under the theme ‘The Archive’ explored how ‘public consciousness’ impacts or brings changes to the role of photography. The undeniable truth is that the line between the real world and social networks is now more seamless than ever, and photography is no longer merely a tool humans call upon to record historical events and capture memories.
The theme of the festival was presented through six main exhibitions including:
‘A Room With a View’ curated by Carol Chow Pui Ha that featured six photography artists from Hong Kong: Joe Yiu Miu Lai, Lam Wai Kit, Law Yuk-Mui, Lau Wai, Wong Wo-Bik and Yvonne Lo Yuen Man.
‘Daido Moriyama: Prints & Books 1960s – 1980s’ featuring the contemporary Japanese photographers images capturing Post–war Japan between the 1960s and 1980s that show a darker side of cities and life following the American occupation of the country.
‘Witness: The Archive of Cultural Revolution’ by Li Zhensheng of China documenting the 1966-1976 period of the Chinese Cultural Revolution through images captured while the artist, who has been described as “risking his life hiding away negatives that offered an unabashed account of China’s political situation under the rule of Mao Zedong,” was working as a photojournalist for the Heilongjiang Daily.
‘Roger Ballen’s Menagerie’ featuring images selected from the American photographer’s past three decades of work that “explore the staging of animal’s and human’s unexpected interventions.”
Largest in scope, an ‘Open Call’ exhibition featuring the works of over 40 artists from 18 countries, offering a diverse and thorough representation of both content, technique and the many perspectives from which today’s contemporary photographers are coming from, and focusing upon.
The highlight, however, seemed to be ‘The Archive as Conversation,’ an exhibition that invited seven artists to interpret and initiate dialogues between old and new media including Thailand’s Miti Ruangkritya who exhibited his ‘Thai Politics’ series.
If one missed the event entirely, the biennial’s website designed by Singapore-based H55 that captures the character of an ‘Archive’ in digital format with file folders replacing boxes and online platforms replacing galleries, is an equally worthwhile visit: