Artist: Lavender Chang
Lavender Chang (b. 1983, Taiwan) is obtained her BFA (Honours) Degree in Photography and Digital Imaging from the Nanyang Technological University, School of Art, Design and Media in 2011.
As a Taiwanese citizen and Singaporean Permanent Resident, Lavender explores issues of identify in her work; but through the eyes of a young immigrant artist in Singapore.
2011 – 2013
Archival fine art inkjet prints
I came across this work when I visited Sensorium 360 degree, an exhibition of Southeast Asian and Asian contemporary art that aims to move beyond vision to ‘see’ the world through the other senses, and to experience it in-the-round, at Singapore Art Museum (SAM); and was captivated by the movement of the naked subject against time stilled and distilled.
The suit of time-based photographs, taken through the night when the subjects were fast asleep, was Lavender’s approach in the form of an authentic documentary to explore the realm of one’s existence/non-existence during stages of sleep: demonstrating the transcendency of the inert human body as time and light change.
Interestingly, beyond those 2D images, their time-based nature allows the work to transcend as a performance: the inert bed becomes a stage for the subject to perform in the motion of time, as expressed by the changing light, the paradoxical state of consciousness. As a result, I feel that this is what that magnifies and challenges the audience to question harder about our existence through this ‘unconsciousness’ or ‘consciousness’ as the audience view the whole process in the most conscious state.
In this series of work, Lavender questions the role(s) of young contemporary Chinese women as we witness the erosion of traditional roles shouldered by women to take on responsibilities that used to be taken up by the eldest son in the olden days.
Contrast to the work above, this is a more straightforward approach undertaken by Lavender to demonstrate a serious societal issue faced by us. There is strong symbolism behind the layout of the image. For instance, the position of the hands of the parents on the head of the elder daughter against the surface is one very direct means to present the idea of pressures and responsibilities being pushed to the helpless daughter lying there with no way out. There is this deep gaze of helplessness staring in the centre of the image and the reflection seems to function literally as a reflection of who we should be. Interestingly, the hands are only laying there and do not show much force and it brings me to ponder: since when did this erosion began and how subtly it is taking place. In all, the set-up appears to be rather soft but it does bring out the artist’s strong issue.
Block 12, My Territory, My Dignity
This is a series of 7 photographs depicting one-room HDB flats that were primarily leased to single, old and needy elderly.
In this work, Lavender wanted to people to see how these occupants decorate and organise their homes which in turn provide insight into their personalities. Shattering the common belief that these elderly live in poor and bad conditions, Lavender sought to shed a more positive outlook that they are living in dignity as we view them through the lens of their own homes.
This is definitely an interesting take by depicting occupants that have been most commonly stereotyped. While the real issue of whether the majority population of these elderly are indeed living in undesirable conditions is once again debatable and unrepresented in these works, I have to admit that the initial response evoked was rather a simple and direct enlightenment of the personality of the occupant in general.