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Picturing the Pandemic: Conversations with the Curators

As part of Picturing the Pandemic, our curators sat down for a chat with the photographers, filmmakers and some individuals who were photographed for the project.

In this series of candid conversations, they discuss a selection of stories featured in the exhibition, in addition to their challenges, experience of and responses to the pandemic, as well as their inspirations and hopes for the future.

Click here for more details on the Picturing The Pandemic exhibition!


A Child’s Home-based Learning Experience
Brian Teo & Tay Kailin
In conversation with Miriam Yeo

When Singapore entered its circuit breaker on 7 April 2020, schools and lessons moved online. Tay Kailin stayed with her godbrother Brian Teo and his family while her mother, a single parent, went to work in essential services. Brian took photos of Kailin almost every day during this period. His photographs give a glimpse of the circuit breaker period through the eyes of a child, as well as the challenges of adjusting to home-based learning.

Find out more about the close relationship between Brian and Kailin, and how they have adapted to life during the pandemic as a family, in this heartwarming chat with our curator Miriam.

Unsung Heroes
Bob Lee & Fave Tan
In conversation with Iskander Mydin

Some essential work is strenuous, highly sensitive, or takes place in challenging environments. This is part of everyday life for Fave Tan, a mortician at Life Celebrant Pte Ltd, who eases the grief and loss of families dealing with bereavement.

Photographer Bob Lee took this photo of Fave as she continued to work during the circuit breaker. His photo series, Unsung Heroes, remind us of the workers who kept society going during the pandemic. Our curator Iskander joins Bob and Fave in conversation about the challenges of essential work, and the behind-the-scenes considerations that led to this photograph.

A Reclusive Ramadan
Zakaria Zainal
In conversation with Vidya Murthy

During the circuit breaker period, the various communities in Singapore continued to celebrate and commemorate religious events and festivals, including the month of Ramadan from 23 April to 23 May 2020. Zakaria Zainal’s compelling photographs in his A Reclusive Ramadan series document how Muslims in Singapore coped and adapted with observing Ramadan during the pandemic.

In this conversation with our curator Vidya, Zakaria shares his thoughts on recording the experiences of the Malay community in Singapore, as well as his inspirations and challenges while undertaking this project.

Edwin Koo
In conversation with Daniel Tham

On 10 July 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, Singapore’s electorate headed to the polls for the nation’s 13th General Election. In his GE2020 series, Edwin Koo captures the unique ways in which candidates attempted to campaign and connect with people, both on the ground and online.

Join Edwin and our curator Daniel, as they discuss Edwin’s motivations for documenting the elections in Singapore since 2011, especially with this year’s unique circumstances, and the challenges he faced while on the ground.

Transit Point @ Margaret Drive
How Hwee Young
In conversation with Priscilla Chua

The outbreak of COVID-19 has exposed the plight of the homeless in Singapore. In this difficult time, volunteers and community groups have rallied to help people who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. One such organisation, Transit Point @ Margaret Drive, was set up to provide shelter for displaced families and individuals, even expediting their opening to offer a bed for people stranded here after the implementation of Malaysia’s lockdown measures.

Together with our curator Priscilla, How Hwee Young discusses her inspirations for covering Transit Point and the challenges she faced as a photojournalist during the pandemic.

Zulkifli Atnawi
In conversation with Rachel Eng

The circuit breaker measures introduced on 7 April 2020 disrupted many day-to-day activities, including grocery shopping, and were particularly difficult for vulnerable communities such as the elderly to adapt to.

One of the stories in Zakaria Zainal’s photo series, Deliver, follows Zulkifli Atnawi, a retiree who − together with his family − stepped in to purchase, pack and distribute food to those in need when the circuit breaker began. In this video, Zulkifli speaks to our curator Rachel on his motivations to reach out to his neighbours, and about his family’s initiative, which is now known as Project Hills and has raised more than $10,000 for the community.

The Spaces Between Us
Adar Ng & Dave Lim
In conversation with Priscilla Chua & Rachel Eng

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on everyone in Singapore, some more so than others. The Spaces Between Us by filmmakers Adar Ng and Dave Lim documents the diversity of the people who have had to contend with new rules and challenges, and the ways in which our daily habits and processes have changed in response.