The Room Within – This is Home

bedroom low res

The Room Within

“I should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.” – Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

With The Poetics of Space as a point of departure, the installation looks at the significance of objects in people’s homes, and by extension, explores the occurrences within the walls of the physical home. The work is about our human response to our immediate environment: about what gets seamlessly absorbed into our everyday routines, and what we subconsciously neglect. The objects we possess have a variety of qualities: they are functional, sentimental, or both. What can we not bear to part with? What has come to represent us as people? What, at the end of a long day, do we come home to?

Our homes, in turn, conjure up different images in our minds. They are a place of refuge, of solace, and of joy. They are also, at times, places of fear, and of entrapment, and of heaviness. They have undoubtedly played a part in shaping who we are.

Through objects and their stories, the installation maps the various narratives that exist in Queenstown, from elderly Tanglin Halt residents to young people reaching the brink of adulthood.

Exhibition Poster

The second part of the This is Home initiative is a series of multimedia mapping experiments presented by seven artists working in collaboration with Queenstown residents. The works explore the meaning of home through maps and mapping processes.

The exhibition will move to Queenstown proper in March, which will provide more opportunities for interaction with the neighbourhood’s residents.

A big thank you to Genine and Jan of MATT3R, My Queenstown, and friends who helped me with set-up and/or took precious time off their schedules to attend the exhibition. I am so grateful for you.

 

Objects, Mapping, Home

Life has been extraordinarily busy, and it will only get busier over the next few months. But I am thankful.

This Saturday, as part of a Brack x Matt3r x My Queenstown initiative, I’ll be sharing a bit about my project on documenting the objects in the homes of various Queenstown residents.

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Saturday, 5 Dec, 2pm, The Recess.

Open Call for Project + Opinion on Photography and Singapore Politics

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(Photograph courtesy of my family; poem by yours truly.)

Getting the ball (finally!) rolling on a video/photography project about what it means to be a woman in Singapore, and I need the help/participation of the generous folk of the interwebs:

I’ll be asking a bunch of related questions, and you can ask me questions in return. You’ll then have the option of becoming more involved by being photographed or filmed, if you wish.

I’m looking for people with a wide variety of perspectives, regardless of age, ethnicity, sexuality, or gender (take note!). However, the participant should either be Singaporean or residing in Singapore.

Interested participants can say hi at psxcharmaine@gmail.com, and we’ll get started from there. All information will be kept confidential, and will never be published or showcased without your permission.

Crossing fingers, xx
Charmaine

P.S. You can refer to my website at http://charmainepoh.com for a selection of previous work I’ve done.

I also had the opportunity of contributing to an opinion piece on Singapore photography in light of our recent general elections. Along with the insights of many other Singaporean photographers such as Darren Soh and Sim Chi Yin, I gave my take on the scene as I saw it. Here’s an excerpt:

“For many young photographers, it would be their maiden chance to photograph anything of such political height. Over the last five years, the feasibility of photography as a mode of communication has culminated in a new generation of photographers who are experiencing a newly found awareness of government and its effect on the national consciousness. Regardless of media affiliation, photography was used as a tool not only to recognise the protagonists and antagonists of the rallying stage, but as a means of obtaining an understanding of the rarely politicised atmosphere that took over the country for nine days..

…However, the immediacy of the photographs also brings into question the need for sustained, long-term political awareness. What is the role of the image after the furor has simmered down?

…What is usually unseen during the other days of the year, and in the next four years to come, is just as important.”

The full opinion can be found here: http://invisiblephotographer.asia/2015/09/19/sgphotography-pragmaticpolitics/

Thanks Ox Lee for thinking my opinion worthwhile!

A Poem and Two Exhibitions

In June, I had the opportunity to write a poem for Donna Chiu’s latest photo essay, Somewhere Only I Know, published on Invisible Photographer Asia.

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A series using photographic collages, the series explores Donna’s life and thoughts about family, womanhood, and identity.

Somewhere only I know,
Beyond the pages of a bedtime story,
Your early breakfast,
Our wedding rings.

My girth is widened
By years and motherhood
Years of motherhood.
I run my roughened palms
On my stomach, and upwards
The nerves of my neck
Holding up worlds
I never imagined
As a child.

I drifted
Along the coast
To here,
Where I wake up each day
To the hum of your patience
Steadfast, this rope
Holding me over places lived
And to the promises
We said we would
Keep close.

But cast far out
Are the rest of them
Father, mother, sister-
Place a finger on the spinning globe
That I cannot catch
And in our living rooms
There are oceans between us
That my bridge cannot reach
And it is not merely
Beyond grasp.

The sands slip through
My hands can only
Hold so many
I dream-ache, shake
Off a thought
As my head weighs down
Lie low, hushed still
For the next daybreak.

The work can be found here: http://invisiblephotographer.asia/2015/06/18/somewhereonlyiknow-donnachiu/

Thank you for allowing me to collaborate with you on this beautiful piece, Donna.

I also have two ongoing exhibitions in Singapore, the first being part of Noise Singapore’s Collective Dreams pop-up at One Raffles Place. Organised by the National Arts Council and Objectifs, the exhibition showcases work from a young generation of Singaporean photographers. I’m showing a few photographs from my Learning to Leave series.

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It’s open till the end of August, so do check it out! Big thanks to Noise, NAC, and Objectifs for featuring my work.

More information can be found here: https://www.noisesingapore.com/Happenings/2015/7/30/PopUp-Noise-Collective-Dreams

The second exhibition is at Artistry, as part of the Shooting Home reunion group show. I’m showcasing a related series of work, this time entitled Prologue.

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The childhood home, like kin, is an inheritance borne not out of choice nor effort, but sheer happenstance. It is the literal starting point of our life stories, the knot from which the rest of the thread unravels. My childhood home, and my early experience within its walls, shaped me indelibly, for better or for worse. 

I moved away when I was eight, and returned after 16 years to document the remarkable emotional resonance of place.

The exhibition will be up until 13 September. Thank you to my Shooting Home friends for setting up the show for me while I’m away! The least I could do was write the exhibition text:

Any Other City is a photographic exploration of the inescapable, contemporary city, where residents confront anonymity, boredom, secrets, space, and transience. The works interpret life in concrete, from architectural renderings of physical landscapes to emotional responses to our urban psyche.

The Facebook event page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/713307052148562/

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