Picturing the Pandemic: A Visual Record of COVID-19 in Singapore is an exhibition that provides an intimate look into life in Singapore in the “new normal”.
“The exhibition is a tribute to everyone who is living through this pandemic with fortitude, empathy, and compassion,” said Ms Chung May Khuen, Director of the National Museum of Singapore.
The institution aims to co-write history with the community as it encourages the public to contribute to the Collecting Contemporary Singapore initiative with personal stories and objects that encapsulate shared moments amidst the global crisis. This is done in hopes to build the National Collection further by educating posterity with retrospective views and learning points from this significant episode in our history.
Commissioned photojournalists Bob Lee, Edwin Koo, How Hwee Young, Brian Teo, and Zakaria Zainal – as well as filmmakers Dave Lim and Adar Ng acted as voices for the vulnerable and unsung heroes. The exhibits span five themes – A Day in the Life, Essential Workers, New Ways of Living, Making Visible, and The Spaces Between Us – showcasing the pandemic experience of these people.
No story left untold, and no sacrifice, unrecognised.
“The pandemic has certainly changed many things and created a new ‘normal’ in terms of how people work, play, and interact with each other. It has also brought many social issues into focus, for example, the living conditions of migrant workers and social assistance for the homeless,” said How Hwee Young.
In the wake of social and cultural upheaval, these artists have created a candid collection offering a glimpse into the social bonds, tenacity, and resilience forged across diverse communities in Singapore. With a myriad of measures put into place to curb the epidemic, there was a real threat that this visual history would never be recorded.
Nevertheless, these featured artists have managed to compile anecdotes of the lives of everyday people from retired cleaner Zulkifli Atnawai, to tireless frontline workers, and even our national para-athletes. Producers of The Spaces Between Us, Adar Ng and Dave Lim, attempt to reconcile this physical disjoint; stitching a multitude of existences, livelihoods, and being into a photographic quilt-work of a nation.
As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, the National Museum of Singapore welcomes members of the public to contribute objects, stories, and creative responses to the pandemic.
The exhibition is ongoing until 29 August 2021. Admission is free.