57 Eng Hoon St, Singapore 198892
+65 9798 5611
From 16 August to 30 September 2023
part of The Kampong Port Cities in Pre-Colonial Era presented by The Oval Partnership
part of AGAS GALLERY weekend 2023
The Ulu Track is a selection of photographs of Singapore kampungs, which were taken over 3 different periods of time, using 3 different techniques representative of the evolution of the medium.
The oldest one is a 1984 photograph of a kampung house in the midst of the rubber trees plantations that could then still be found in Ulu Sembawang. It was shot with black and white film and the hand tinted version of it was part of my first exhibition in Singapore, Singapore from BW to C in 1985.
The second series was mostly shot in the late 1990s with colour slides. By then the urban transformation of Singapore had reached the north of the island and I went to document the fast disappearing kampongs of Woodlands. These photographs are now part of my 2021 book Things I Remember, which gathers colour slides of Singapore shot in the last two decades of the 20th century, before the arrival of digital technology.
The last series is a 2009 digital documentation of Kampung Buangkok, done when this kampung had been identified and talked about as the last one in Singapore. These images had remained unused in my archives up to this unexpected opportunity to bring them to light.
Brought together by chance, these 3 series make an unforeseen summary of the evolution of our society, a telling parallel between the evolution of photography and urban space.
Gotong Royong is a Malay word that translates literally to mutual assistance. It invokes the spirit of community and the kampong. However, this phrase has become politicised and is often bandied about in an effort to harken back to a more communal ethos, something inevitably lost in the wake of modernisation. Marc Nair’s poem, Gotong Royong, is a conglomeration of scenes and memories of what Kampong Gelam was, writing not from the perspective of nostalgia but offering another way of seeing, of remembering.
The Exhibition runs until 1st October 2023
Venue: Fort Canning Centre, Singapore