|Empty beds in hospitals, Institutions by Eiffel Chong|
Southeast Asian photographs community started year with the series of talks 'imag(in)e sea initiated and moderated by photographer and curator Zhuang Wubin, who organised first meetup by inviting Malaysian Eiffel Chong to speak about his three 'Institutions' series at Singapore 'Select Books' cafe and store at 51 Armenian Street on the 19th of January.
Eiffel Chong's Institutions exploration started in 2005, when he spent a lot of time with his grandmother in A&E department at one of the hospitals in Malaysia. Since then he started to photograph different departments from puerperal to morgue - interiors, equipment, furniture, random objects as clock on the wall, religious images, flowers basket on the floor. Everything get special meaning being captured from contest and highlighted at the photographs. As per example, clock on the wall means stopped time for many people, that is equivalent to death. New born baby welcoming flowers turn symbol of death being offered to the ground. Showing different departments in Hospital series represent circle of human life from birth to death and make artist itself and viewers to think about transiency of life.
There is something special about Eiffel's Institutions works - he never put persons inside the shot, as he noticed, it's interesting to see, how image of hospital bed can turn on different memories in each person. Somebody will remember car accident, others - their relatives or children. Empty beds photographed in various departments also mean death from different desease. To author's mind, the moment he put human figure at the picture narrowing the prospective, he will immediately relocate attention to it from viewer's own thoughts and memories. It will also turn place from being institution in general to particular hospital, where that patient could be found at some moment of time.
Zoo series are even more interesting at this point stated by Eiffel, as there are no animals at the spaces captured to photographs, but outdoor interiors even make us to think about human not being free, as barbwire placed to prevent bear from escaping reminds about prison for human. Although, zoo interiors are full of nature, it still shows, that zoo is institution, as puts panther to jungle environment with trees and shadows instead of desert with sand dunes.
Third part of Institutions series is devoted to police and consist of series of passport pictures found by author at the police station. The specialty of the series is weather and time, that partly destroyed policemen photographs making it impersonal, and allowing only to see lineaments. As per author's idea, everybody associate features with policemen types or characters from signature movies based on his or her own experience of dealing with that human institution. Some reminds of the photographs were curiously transformed by weather and sunshine, that you can imagine signs of bad death or crime scenes in it. Some will feel sense of nastiness. Material for police series - passport photographs were destroyed by nature, that also shows how fragile human life is. The artwork was completed unusually fast, as only started in 2012, and already has been chosen for Chobi Mela VII, the oldest photo festival in Asia, where Chong will be the only Malaysian presented. Usually it takes one-two years to complete series, as he works through watching things and situations. Photography is very intimate process for Chong, that is also one of the reasons not to include there real people, but concentrate on human being.
Chong's series show how important institutions are in human life, it's not necessary bad or good, but if those who see photographs, feel discomfort and bad sense, then it shows their own bad experience of dealing with that institutions. Author also noticed, that working with various Institutions has brought him further in his research and broaden his horizons as he got to see open heart surgery for 14 month old child, or found, that doctors are not always being serious and can laugh and joke during their work.
Next Imag(in)e sea talks will be organised with support of Invisible Photographer Asia
|Select Books @ 51 Armenian Street, Singapore|
|Eiffel Chong speaking about Hospitals Institutions series @ Select Books, Singapore|
|Empty bed for new born babies, Hospitals Institutions series by Eiffel Chong|
|Surgery empty bed, Hospitals Institutions series by Eiffel Chong|
|Zoo without animals by Eiffel Chong, Institutions series|
|Eiffel Chong speaking about Police Institutions series @ Select Books, Singapore|
|Police Institutions series by Eiffel Chong|