Photography collective Platform publishes two books by 50 Singapore-based photographers

Photography collective Platform is launching two books featuring the work of 50 Singapore-based photographers

An image of Sembawang Hot Spring by Graciela Magnoni (above) and another of a foreign worker in Singapore by Jimmy Sng. PHOTO: JIMMY SNG/GRACIELA MAGNONI/+50/PLATFORM
An image of Sembawang Hot Spring by Graciela Magnoni and another of a foreign worker in Singapore by Jimmy Sng (above). PHOTO: JIMMY SNG/GRACIELA MAGNONI/+50/PLATFORM
Their photographs are featured in the +50 books, published in addition to the TwentyFifteen series of photography books (above). PHOTO: JIMMY SNG/GRACIELA MAGNONI/+50/PLATFORM

A grassroots project to promote Singapore photography that used $4,000 in seed funding to publish 20 photo books will culminate in the launch of two more photo books next Monday.

The project is helmed by photo- graphy collective Platform, whose founders, photographers Tay Kay Chin, Darren Soh, Ernest Goh and Leonard Goh, started the TwentyFifteen initiative in 2013, to support established and emerging photo- graphers here.

They published the 20 books by Singapore photographers, such as award-winning photojournalist Sim Chi Yin and arts photographer Tan Ngiap Heng, over two years, with the final TwentyFifteen book coming out last December.

From the start, Tay and Soh wanted the project to be a community effort and did not seek state funding. Three well-wishers donated money to get the project going and sale proceeds of each book were used to fund the costs of printing the next book.

The collective also sold limited- edition photography prints of the 20 photographers to fund the project.

Although the collective never set out to make money from the project - the four founders and project manager, photographer Bernice Wong, 27, were not paid - it found that it had $25,000 in the bank after the 20th book was published.


  • WHERE: Objectifs - Centre for Photography and Film, 155 Middle Road

    WHEN: Next Monday, 7.30 to 9.30pm



Tay and Soh, who had already planned for two more books in 2014, decided to use the surplus money to publish the two new books.

Tay, 50, tells The Straits Times: "Since the money came from the community, it is only right that it benefits the community too."

The two books featuring the works of 50 Singapore-based photographers will be launched next Monday at the Objectifs - Centre for Photography and Film in Middle Road.

Tay and Soh titled this series +50 as it features the works of 50 more photographers. The books are titled +50a and +50b, and cost $25 each. The complete set costs $40.

Tay says: "We know many foreigners who have lived and worked here and have meaningful bodies of work about Singapore. To not include them would be to ignore a very important aspect."

The photographers in +50 were either invited to take part in the project or were chosen by a panel of jurors, which include photo- graphers.

They come from all walks of life, from 16-year-old Sherman Tham, who took photos of his grandmother's daily life, to Dutch freelance photographer Patrick van Dam, 45, whose series This Temporary Landscape captures spaces such as construction areas and void decks here.

Van Dam, who also designed the two +50 books, says: "When I looked at all these photos, they gave me a behind-the-scenes look at what Singapore is about."

One early TwentyFifteen supporter was Mr Richard Merrells, 62, who runs a graphic design company and gave about $1,000.

"It was a small amount, but it was more important to give my moral support and for them to hear that it was a good idea," he says.

Tay says that 25 well-wishers pre-ordered the complete TwentyFifteen book sets at $500 a set. Each book had a print run of 500 copies and all unsold books have been donated to Objectifs for supporting the project.

Architect Tan Kay Ngee, 59, spent more than $2,000 on two complete sets of the TwentyFifteen books, as well as limited-edition prints. The books are on display at his offices here and in Istanbul, Turkey. He intends to approach museums in Istanbul to exhibit the works.

He says: "The images bring out the daily lives of Singaporeans and are done with a special Singaporean sense of humour, which surprises many foreigners who think of us as a bunch of disciplined, hardworking workers."

Ms Diana Leng, 40, chief financial officer of an oil and gas company,gifted some prints she bought to friends who have moved abroad.

She says: "I wanted them to take a piece of Singapore to their new home. I guess you could say they're displayed all over the world now."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 21, 2016, with the headline Photography collective Platform publishes two books by 50 Singapore-based photographers. Subscribe