Finding soul

Charlene journal 9 Comments

Belgrade, Serbia I’m presently consumed by wanting. There’s garden variety wanting that happens all the time: the new laptop because the close-to-4-year-old one I have is having trouble drawing enough juice to power processor heavy tasks. All the books in my wishlist. More money. Less body fat. To ride the Trans-Siberian Express. And so on. Then there’s must-have-or-will-DIE kind of wanting. Utterly irrational, especially since the object of desire is completely inconsequential. The last thing I remember wanting with that sort of ferocity, is the pair of skates in the photo above. Brand spanking new K2 Fattys, Scott Crawford edition. One of my friends took this photo in the old Bishan Skate Park, circa 1997 (cropped to hell so you can’t see my dorky helmet – that’s my best friend Serena in the background, trying not to laugh too hard). It was such a …

Foggy Ground

Charlene journal 8 Comments

The most ordinary of things are rendered strange by fog. Self, other, sight, direction. Landscape and memory. This Danish summer had been untypically sunny as it always is when I am there; the day before, crop fields undulated for miles in the clear air, bare and golden after the harvest. This image is part of a larger essay that I have up on Kage Collective. Check it out.

Street hawker

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I’ve never seen street hawkers in Singapore, where I grew up. By the time I was old enough to actively think about my surroundings, they were gone, relocated to ubiquitous hawker centers found all over the island. Scenes like this never fail to make me think of home though. Not the sense of place, but situation. A communal meal with my family in Kuala Lumpur or Malacca, where we did eat on waysides, the fractures of our lives bound by ritual.

Public Passage

Charlene journal, vagabonding 15 Comments

My earliest photographic project, and the only one that’s stuck after all this time, is the one that revolves around public transport. It currently lives on Instagram. I’ve spent most of my life riding buses and trains, so it seemed natural to shoot on them when I got a camera. I was working in Perth (Western Australia) when I started taking pictures on my daily commute to and from the office. It started out as something to distract myself from where I was headed, and the dread of what awaited me at journey’s end, and eventually got me re-engaged with where I was. I lived in Perth for a decade and a half, and never got beyond its sunny, social, extroverted face. Shooting the elements that made up the city’s exterior didn’t get me any closer to …

A night at the opera

Charlene journal 2 Comments

I came across a beautiful set of portraits that Chia Aik Beng made of the Teochew Opera troupe, Lao Sai Tao Yuan recently. I have returned to this series a number of times, compelled by the intimacy of his portraits, and this facet of Singapore I’ve had no contact with. Then chance stepped in. After some hours wandering around the Ramadan bazaar in Geyland Serai the other night, Flemming and I found ourselves in front of a big red and white striped tent with a performance by the very same troupe in full swing. We sat down a while to take it all in. This was my first time watching a Teochew opera. I didn’t understand the language, nuance behind the make up, gestures and various stage elements. But its story was universal enough for the gist of the tale to come …

Thieves Market, Sungei Road

Charlene journal 3 Comments

My father used to bring me to the Sungei Rd Thieves Market on weekends, to have a browse. You never knew what you would find there. The market used to cover a much larger area than it does today, with most of it already eliminated by the construction of the expanding rail system. What remains will eventually surrender to the same fate. Picture: Fujifilm X-T10, 35mm, JPEG only.

Memory, dog

Charlene journal 2 Comments

“Daisy never left my side. We took long, long walks into the fields surrounding our farm… That is my happy place in my mind, my home, refuge when the shadows catch up and it is time to run again, when, like now, I am homesick for a home that no longer exists, when I have time-traveled too much alone for too many years on too many planets, when the world spins too fast, when I am lost in a great sea of darkness. Then I walk into the field. With Daisy.” – To Be a Kid Again: Luke and Chewie Flemming relives an old memory, with Ben. It may just be particular affinity, but there is great comfort to be had, with a dog.