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Exhibition, Photography


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STATE OF CHANGE is a joint exhibition presented by DECK examining the significance of memory in a city-state where change is the only constant.

Featuring two independent projects that employ photography in the activation of memory, “Some Other Way”, by Nicholas Koh and Jiahui Tan, and “Singapore’s Vanished Public Housing Estates”, by Koh Kim Chay and Eugene Ong.

With the onset of constant urban renewal, is documentation our only form of resistance?

Some Other Way
by Nicholas Koh and Jiahui Tan

Some Other Way is an exhibition based on the imminent closure of the Sungei Road Flea Market on 10/7/2017. Notoriously known as the Thieves Market, the space will make way for residential and commercial developments. Many documental attempts have been made, mostly representing the market as a haven for stolen goods and discarded items.

Instead of presenting the space in the usual grungy black-and-white street photography style, this direction takes on a vastly different approach. Products collected from various hawkers are presented in a vibrant pop-art manner, a salute to the colourful decades of Singapore’s history. Most of the peddlers have not been given alternative spaces to shift.

Have we explored the options fully?
There must be some other way.

Singapore’s Vanished Public Housing Estates
by Koh Kim Chay and Eugene Ong

The 15 expunged estates featured in this exhibition were built by HDB’s predecessor, the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT).

As examples of low-cost housing meant to quickly alleviate the housing crisis after the Japanese Occupation, these buildings were simple, built to sound specifications and intended by the Colonial authorities to last at least 4 decades in tropical weather. Other buildings constructed a few years after the war explored the modern streamlined aesthetic in the 1940s, though many such concrete dwellings were ultimately considered to be of the austerity type. Most have been quietly effaced from local directories since the start of the millennium.

As pictorial records of our first homes in historically significant and newly emerging estates before Independence, the series of photographs are an invaluable window into Singapore’s changing housing landscape in the 50s and beyond.

Nicholas Koh began his photography journey with a borrowed DSLR and 2 weeks alone in New Zealand. Since then, he has photographed for Singaporean companies, been a finalist for two years running in EyeEm’s International Photography Awards, covered a 2 week desert ultra-marathon and contributed to print publications Be Movement and Voyage. SOME OTHER WAY is his first show.

Jiahui Tan runs award-winning, multi-disciplinary design agency Fable. Fable has been recognized at established international design competitions, such as the prestigious British Design & Art Direction Awards and also the Tokyo Type Directors Club. Various works have also been featured on Harper’s Bazaar, Monocle, Asia Pacific Design, Singapore Design Week, The Straits Times, It’s Nice That, Visual Journal, BP&O, The Business Times, For Print Only, American Institute of Graphic Arts, Mediacorp, Sandu Publishing, and more.

Koh Kim Chay devoted 38 years to the cutting and welding industries. As a youth, he would roam the streets of Old China Square looking for stamps from discarded envelopes. In a pre-digital world, washing stamps off paper and assembling them in albums were a source of fascination. Having fastidiously documented Singapore’s changing landscapes since the 80s, he is a recipient of NLB’s Patron of Heritage Award in 2006.

Eugene Ong is an experienced educator of 13 years, and is interested in city planning, architectural heritage and photography. His photographs on housing estates have appeared in 联合早报. Eugene Ong currently teaches writing at the Singapore University of Technology and Design.


Save Sungei Road Market – Walking Tour + Discussion by Post Museum
24 June, Saturday / 3pm – 6pm / Register here

Photography and Memory – Photowalk by Eugene Ong and Koh Kim Chay
1 July, Saturday / 3pm – 5pm / Register here

“Red Dragonflies” – Film Screening by Liao Jiekai
6 July, Thursday / 7:30pm – 9:15pm / Register here

STATE OF CHANGE – Exhibition Tour by Artists and Curators
8 July, Saturday / 3pm – 5pm / Register here

Songs About Place – Music Performance by The Diarists
15 July, Saturday / 7:30pm – 10pm / Register here

Concerned Minds – Public Talk by Mindy Tan, Koh Kim Chay, Fable
22 July, Saturday / 3pm – 5pm / Register here

Event Information

23 June 2017, 8:00am
22 July 2017, 5:00pm
DECK Gallery 1 & 2
120A Prinsep Street
Singapore, 187937 Singapore
Organised by DECK
6734 6578