This triptych breaks the convention of portraiture. I wanted to present a new platform of conveying an emotional response towards the notion of identity. I feel that these three photographs carries a narrative of representing my viewpoint on the racial system in Singapore. I believe a self-portrait need not only reveal oneself, but more essentially, expose what lies beneath. In this one, I deal with reflecting an introspective look into my identity as a Singaporean, a Malay one. One that latches on the hope for an evolution in paradigm- a metamorphosis.
Being identified as ‘Malay’ on my identification card, I question the need for such a preordained classification, a direct demarcation between people of this multi-faceted nation. The series speak of a dance, a struggle, if I may, to break free from the societal stereotypes and prejudices. It aims not to condemn or instigate but rather to contemplate and reflect upon this crisis of identity.
The first piece expresses the whole idea of a chaos, a struggle as I’ve mentioned to fit the mold we have all been thrust upon. I observe the quivering allegiance of the youth of Singapore today to this system. I infused the idea of motion through the movements of the Malay traditional dance. How there is always a demand to identify, but is there really a need to?
The centre piece talks of how our race defines us here, how it is being spotlighted as though we are of museum artifacts. Being labeled, categorized, showcased in all our traditional archetypes (the ‘baju Melayu’, the ‘keris’, the ‘kain pelekat’). The choice to not reveal my face is crucial as it translates the whole idea of being judged by our ‘Malayness’ rather than our individual self.
The final piece is my hope towards this whole dilemma. Breaking free, to vanish. Only glimpses of this ‘Malay man’ is left for the world to see. An evanescence of this imposition of racial division.. I want to celebrate cultural distinctions without race being the main focus of this society. How we should celebrate differences and diversity but not make it what separates us.
Redux: Sunsets in Shah Alam
A series extended from the Malay Man series as part of the Shah Alam Biennale 2018

Two souls in love must be enough
to exist in separate carriages
oiling up worn out tracks
parting, inching closer
derailing , kissing
being at ease with rain
and unabated floods
with no dams
given in, involved with
taken, forsaken
for granted just like the canons 
of the wise songbirds, lost
oversung words, lusting 
a continental drift reaching a sufficient draw
in distance, in nearness, in between
in an auditorium where Goenawan dedicates
a river part to Latiff and our seats apart
i saw you melting in batik and all of these people
that don't have to be here in Klang Valley, 
in chaos and in cosmos
between bibles in Borneo and Mak Yong
lost in translations and constellations
veined on bodies entwined in an awkward
embrace that demands no arms
in self effacement and in sacrifice or otherwise
in Sapardi, in Parsi, in Palestine
in between arch of bridges
your shoulders, my spine
the Shah Alam sunset,
we unvoid ourselves to the
discourses and definitions
sermons and venoms that become
norms to be a kind of fake divine 
to be kind because love is
a hikayat you unceremoniously call myth
because the truth makes you feel
fear unsettling under your own
skin wounding of a conversation you have no part of 
so when strangers choose to become dams to our rivers
we learn to let them be,
but if one of us gives no damn
then what does it make us both
becoming the losing cause
unbecoming, because 
only two souls loving can be enough
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