Far Apart, Close At Heart

Emotionally arresting photo exhibition reconciles geographical gap between families Guilt (Mum), 2010

By Grace Yeoh, Photos by John Clang (Courtesy of the National Museum of Singapore)

If you have loved ones overseas, be prepared to revisit the ache of separation.

In his latest exhibition “Being Together: Family and Portraits – Photographing with John Clang”, Singaporean photographer John Clang explores the theme of “Family” by looking at Singaporeans’ sense of identity, rootedness and connection to their families both in Singapore and abroad.

Divided into five series of works, such as “Being Together”, “The Moment”, “Fear of Losing the Existence”, “Guilt”, and “Erasure”, the photos possess an unprocessed quality, revealing the raw emotions behind each photo.

There is a stark melancholy running through Clang’s works, but there are two that will stop you in your tracks.

Firstly, “Guilt”, which depicts Clang’s remorse towards his family for leaving Singapore to pursue his career 14 years ago, successfully captures every parent’s innate fear of their child possibly leaving home to build a life of their own eventually.

Secondly, the final photo in “Being Together”, which harnessed Skype technology to merge images of Clang and his parents, is reminiscent of the painful decision every child makes if they pick individual pursuits over familial obligations.

You might choke up, or you might even feel the overwhelming urge to call your loved ones overseas. Regardless, you come away with a calm induced by catharsis, and the realisation that there isn’t a photographer who understands the human condition better than one who breaks his heart in order to heal ours.

Being Together (Parents), 2010

 

 

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