Like Opening One’s Eyes For The First Time

I’m in a group photography exhibition at Objectifs! It’s a little different because I’ve never been asked to only exhibit photographs before. It’s always been in tandem with text or responding (often with text) to another artist’s photographs. My one solo exhibition, Slide & Tongue, in 2018 was a series of photohaiku, where the haiku was integrated into the body of the image. Maybe poetry has been a kind of refuge, an easier way to ‘read’ the image by providing an entry point, so when Ang Siew Ching, the curator of this exhibition, asked me to only send over images, I really had to trawl through my archives to find images that would fit into the theme and that would work without the safety net of poetry. The images cohere broadly to the idea of the liminal, juxtaposing the mundane with a kind of temporal humour located in object, emotion or action. I’m excited to see how my work sits alongside and dialogues with older, established artists as well as architects and film-based photographers.

The exhibition opens on 7 May. There’s an opening reception (sans F&B), from 4-7pm. I’ll be there to hang out and answer any questions about the work. As a satellite event to the exhibition I’ll also run a version of PhotoWrite, my writing/photography workshop, on 21 May at 4pm. Details forthcoming.

For more informationn about the exhibition and the other artists featured:

NLB Featured Author (March 2022)

I’m very stoked to be a featured author for NLB and to get a chance to discuss the thinking and process behind some of my books. Do join me for two book clubs where I’ll be discussing Vital Possessions and Spomenik as well as a chat with Ng Kah Gay, my editor at Ethos Books, where we’ll be discussing my travel poetry. All of these are going to be online, so there’s no restrictions on attendance.

Sign up here:

Katong Dreaming

I have a love affair with site-specific work. There’s something fundamentally challenging with responding ekphrastically to a found scene or image. So many factors are in the mix: chance, the time of day, the presence of unexpected elements and, of course, how inclined one is to linger or go off the beaten path into the back lane (or the country road).

This practice is a mainstay of my Instagram photohaiku practice, where I impose two control elements. All the photographs are taken, unposed, on the street. The second is that the poetic form is the haiku. These constraints enable me to create a consistent, coherent body of work that is concerned with how content speaks through form.

But beyond this practice, there are also various larger, collaborative projects that I’ve done in the form of walks and tours around various estates, such as Yishun, Tiong Bahru, Kampung Gelam and now… Katong. The latter is a rich site that blends commerce, history, migrant stories, food and Peranakan influence into a tapestry that sits beneath the ever-present spectre of gentrification that seems to have consumed Katong and Joo Chiat today. Change is the inevitable consequence of growth, particularly when we build on top of things, both literally and metaphorically, but we should also not completely forget the things that made us who we are. An awareness of older stories and traditions are invaluable in shaping the nexus of our identity.

And art is a more amenable entry point than the didactic dictates of history. So it has been a pleasure to work with fellow artists Mark Nicodemus Tan (tour guide, lyricist and singer), August Lum (composer), and Valerie Lim (dancer) in devising this musical performance tour that blends the lived history of Katong with imaginative elements of other seasons, places and times. More importantly, it leads us to question this whole trope of identity that seems to consume us as a nation. We don’t promise you the answer in this tour, but maybe, it is a way of coming to be, and become.

Katong Dreaming opens on 18 Feb 2022 and runs to 27 March 2022.
Tickets available at
Use pintupagar for $20 off the full ticket price ($68).

Architectural Poetry

So you are expecting a poem to fill in the struts and seams of your blueprint, poem poured like prayers from the concrete mixer of mellifluous words, proud in the casual confidence of a twin block, 30-floored monster of maximum acreage. A poem that hews to each sinew of square footage, that is angled to catch the sun and has a rooftop pool where scantily-clad haikus can lounge. Poem that rises from the surrounding foliage, transported from a willing nursery, poem planted right when the foundation stone, with its own secret epitaph of importunate child gods and incantations, was laid. Poetry is not your bitch to build upon, to lay your grandiose profit margins on, it is not your marketing device, it is not as opaque or esoteric as you might surmise. Poetry doesn’t want a penthouse at your property, it is not a blue sky, greenfield fantasy. A poem is not truly a joy if it doesn’t hold some sadness or irony, though you deem architectural poetry as a compliment, imagining a poem is the apotheosis of your construction, the apex of your belief (provided the poem keeps up with conservancy fees). The poem justifies slantwise, line breaks on every other floor, imagery leaks through unfinished rhymes on rainy nights. And what of the stanzas, the spaces to breathe? The poem asks only to be told in one breath: as fire alarm and basement parking, as drowsy security and rooftop garden; freehold fantasy.

This feeling is kind of pink

I am jogging down Havelock Road,
eyes set on the pavement
as it hugs a curve into Outram.
On my left, the hotels are dark,
unsighted beasts who have lost
their purpose to live and have chosen
to hibernate in resignation.
Some days I imagine they are chasing me
and it makes me run a little faster. 

The day is at the cusp of dusk, between
light and darkness, when the hues turn
misty-gold and the sky unlocks in Pantone
possibilities. Today it is a spread
of soft vermillion, peach and pink,
a painter’s improbable background
when so much of what we remember
of the sky is an intense blue, searing,
bounded by skyscrapers.

Down the unblocked length of the road,
a vista opens up and I slow down
to be serenaded. It is not every day
that I get to see the sunset, after all.

And that is when I see her.
A young girl, standing on the traffic island,
a shrubbery-strewn, overgrown triangle
bordered by a low barrier. She stands
on the uneven sidewalk, a brown paper bag
on the ground a short distance from her.
She is holding up a large, pink heart, perfectly
shaped, clearly hand-cut. She is wearing
a sun dress that’s the exact colour of the heart.
Facing the Holiday Inn hotel, she moves
forward and backward, trying to hold up her sign
to show the writing on the other side.
I make out the word ‘love,’ briefly. It is impossible
to see who she’s waving her heart at. 

The hotel has an impenetrable brown facade,
giving nothing away. The windows are tinted
by distance and long hours, where leisure
turns into labour and the hope that one
always has breath and the strength
to look out for love. And now I stop jogging 

completely, because this is all at once
touching and futile, this gesture of kindness
as fleeting as the sunset. But this feeling
is kind of pink, the same pink as the TraceTogether
token that nestles in the waist pocket of my shorts,
a small, rectangular beeping pink that connects me
to everyone else, reminding us of the city,
its closeness and how we are never far away
enough from each other, except when we are
separated by the width of two roads, hotel windows
that won’t open and a sunset that comes too soon. 

Ghim Moh 65:24

Sometimes it’s necessary to change the way you look at things. Just because. It’s why people shoot in black and white, stripping the colour out of their viewfinder. There’s a simplicity to a monochromatic image. The focus is on composition, on contrast and the interplay between light and shadow.

These images were shot on the GFX50R in the 65:24 aspect ratio. It replicates a wide panoramic 65x24mm negative, which is similar to two standard 35mm frames side by side. I used the 50mm f3.5 lens for a 40mm full-frame equivalent field-of-view. The photos were surprisingly wide, nevertheless, but kept a street-style aesthetic because of the focal length.

Three Rooms

My new exhibition/installation, Three Rooms, has opened at Projector X: Riverside. The entire space is a durational (18 month) pop-up concept by the folks from the Projector. It’s been a fruitful few months conceptualising the exhibition, which was made possible by the largesse of Karen Tan, founder of the Projector and enabled by the rest of the Projector’s capable, cheerful and inventive team.

What is Three Rooms

First, another question. What was before Projector X? Two years ago, the X Entertainment Club, a night club that was heavy on Carlsberg, Chivas and dancing girls closed abruptly, literally overnight. Clothes were strewn everywhere. Work permits were left in unlocked drawers. Posters for a grand re-opening were rolled up on the floor. A ledger with a list of big-boy spenders lay open on the table.

Everything was locked up and left, as is, for almost two years. I was asked by artist Yen Phang and Karen to drop by when the team had just taken over the space to see if I had any ideas for it. Immediately, I offered to document the space as it was and as it would change over the coming months. The bar area would be painted over and the bars stools and high tables would be piled up to make room for regular tables and chairs. In another large, contained space that was formerly the dance floor, leather couches surrounded a high stage, dusty with memories and leftover streamers. Under the stage, a life-sized Santa slept on his side, forgotten from a long-ago Christmas. This space would become Neon, the new theatre for the Projector. The entire club was Pompeii-like in its abandoned glory and stasis, down to the huat kueh offering sitting innocuously on the bar counter.

And then there were the three rooms. The staff lounge, the office and the dressing room. These were gloriously abandoned, chock full of detail and a veritable trove of memories. Of course, it was also foolhardy to want to keep them intact, but… that’s what we did. So, in addition to photographing the interiors, I decided to write a short piece of fiction for each room, using details I found to offer a glimpse of interlocking narratives in the months before the club shut down.

Besides the stories, there’s also a plan to create more work, maybe even a book, from the rest of the photographs, so this won’t be the end of the project!

For a more detailed read on the ethos and thinking behind the entire space, check out Home Ground Asia’s article here. 

You can head to The Projector’s website to buy tickets for a movie, or visit the space at Riverside Point for a drink or two and check out the rooms. 

Sub | Dom

A twin cinema poem that responds to the current discussion surrounding the Substation, Singapore’s first independent arts centre and an incredibly nurturing and necessary space for generations of young artists practicing all genres of art.