Singapore International Photo Fest 2014: The Infinity and beyond

SIPF 2014 Open Call Showcase: Brazilian photographer Gustavo Lacerda’s Albinos series. — Photograph by Gustavo Lacerda
SIPF 2014 Open Call Showcase: Brazilian photographer Gustavo Lacerda’s Albinos series. — Photograph by Gustavo Lacerda

SINGAPORE, Aug 30 — With more than 800 works on display at a handful of exhibitions over two months, it’s impossible not to zoom in on this year’s Singapore International Photography Festival (SIPF) when it officially starts on October 3.

Now in its fourth edition, this is its biggest since the biennial event started in 2008. “That initial year was full of struggles,” recalled festival co-founder and director Gwen Lee, who is also the director of photography space 2902 Gallery, citing funding and sponsorship issues, and attracting audiences and media coverage.

But the reception for every edition has been so positive that for this edition, themed The Infinity, organisers have taken the big step of launching a Festival Village called DECK, a mobile container that will house certain exhibitions and a library, as well as a host of workshops. There will also be a slew of film screenings, artist talks and educational programmes to complement the festival’s exhibitions.

One key show is TYPES: After Becher, which will feature 20 works from influential German couple Bernd and Hilla Becher. These will be shown together with the works from six Asian artists, including brothers Ang Song Ming and Ang Song Nian, in a dialogue and discussion on the development of contemporary photography in Asia, said Lee.

Other exhibitions include two at ArtScience Museum: The ongoing Chinese contemporary photography show Flux Realities and An Ocean Of Possibilities in end-October. A community-drive show 100 Days Of Living: A Singapore Diary will be held at the National Library, while [email protected] plays host to a survey of South-east Asian contemporary photography titled Afterimage.

But the biggest show is the festival’s anchor Open Call Showcase. It will comprise 47 portfolios from 23 countries, chosen from more than a thousand submissions from 64 countries. The selection was done by former Institute Of Contemporary Arts Singapore director Charles Merewether, along with National Gallery Singapore curator Adele Tan, Indonesian curator Alexander Supartono and Singapore-based photographer Tay Kay Chin.

Of the Open Call works, Merewether observed: “There’s a very strong portraiture (thread). It’s very distinctive in the showcase. There’s also an emphasis on everyday life but, at the same time, (an emphasis) on the forgotten, the overlooked, the marginalised.”

The Open Call show will feature the works of four Singaporeans: Carrie Lam, Zinkie Aw, Darren Soh and Ore Huiying, and submissions have also come in from some unlikely places.

Lee noted how during the first edition, most submissions had come from Asia. As a sign of the growing global prominence of the SIPF, entries have come in from places such as Russia, Latvia and South America. “There’s a huge variety and diversity in the photographs,” she said.

“It has been exciting to see the festival grow in its ambition to be an international festival,” said Merewether, who noted the growth of photography in Singapore as well as the visibility of international exhibitions. “The festival is one way of growing that.”

SIPF 2014 runs from October 3 to November 11 at various places including DECK at 51 Prinsep Street. Festival passes at S$50 (RM126) at Eventbrite or the festival office. For more details, visit For more information on DECK, visit —

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