3rd August 2012. Written by Xin Li.
Some of you might know that I dabble in art, but nothing that I did is worthy of comparison as my twenty-three-year old comrade’s works. The Rhode Island School of Design student, Andre Wee Eng Keong was recently singled out by the Cathay Organization to organize an exhibition of his infra-red photography at the Cathay Gallery located in the Cathay Building.
The exhibition featuring about 20 plus experimental photographs was titled “In a Different Light” “explore the displacement in imagery that is created in infrared and black and white photography”.
The familiar is made unfamiliar to us by the displacement of objects and colours in images. Imagery then beings to assume a different identity that attempts to provide a new perspective or narrative as we see the world through a different lens. These new identities however exist in a constant flux that fluctuates between its original state and its new one.
This fluctuation represents the on-going search for definition, identity and belonging experienced when we are displaced.
In a Different Light.
The artist himself mentioned that infra-red photography was not his forte but Mu Yao who happened to visit the exhibition noted that the works were actually decent. Andrew was “generally impressed” by the works of his senior too.
Personally, I felt that a lot of thought has been put into the works and the titles itself. Certain works such as a Beam of Light plays with the aesthetics of the lights radiating from a tensile structure and the whole imagery is not unlike the burning bush mentioned in the Bible. Hence is a “Beam of Light” just a statement of aesthetics or a subtle reference to religion? No one knows and the exhibition tries to tickle the minds of its viewers by challenging the certainties of our almost prefixed minds.
The exhibition is a clear demonstration of the relationship between language and visuals, the work, Stillness, not only refers to the existence of an ex-sparrow that has ceased to be but also how stationary the lily pond was like its frozen in time.
I actually like it that the titles and the photographs are an item, beats the brainless (and abused to death) “Untitled”, “Abstract” or “Black and White; White” kind of titles (for God’s sake, language is such a beautiful thing and there are more than 171476 words in an English dictionary and they can exist in so many forms….even IMG_2342 gives an image a unique identity!)
Such works stand out from the collection. On the other hand there were some that can be yawn-inducing such as the National Identity which is a cliché take on red and white barrier blocks and shophouses making that usual statement of “is gahmen tearing down our heritage”. Not to forget Can You C?, a cheeky but otherwise overused subject matter of foreign workers that I am also guilty of.
Nonetheless, it is an exhibition worth seeing: the wordplay, the fresh take on photography (no not because its infra-red), the intriguing perspectives and most importantly, the whole experience of re-thinking about our die-hard perspectives of the world around us beats several bore-to-death photography exhibitions of Ansel wannabes or photographs taken with camera without eyes.
The works are for sale and if you are interested in Andre’s portfolio, you can visit his website at:
In a Different Light
The Cathay Gallery
3rd August 2012 – 3rd September 2012
Monday – Saturday, 11 am to 7pm.
Sundays and Public Holidays
Admission is FREE!