By: Diana van Oort
A friendly, wrinkly face greeted me, when I looked at the announcement of the exhibition. This was something I wanted to see. Looking at all these beautiful, old Asian faces in both black and white and color evoked different emotions.
Sometimes you felt joy, hope, saw wisdom, other times sadness and a deep loneliness. Coming of age is an exploration of senescence, the state of being old.
Nothing can dim the light which shines from within. Maya Angelou (born 1928).”
David Tay Poey Cher, President of the Photographic Society of Singapore, and former CEO of Singapore Press Holdings Magazines, traveled two years through Asia to capture the different stages and aspects of ageing. He has a deep appreciation for common elderly people who are often forgotten and overlooked. ‘Because they evoke an emotion. Most people appreciate pretty images, but it is emotional images that move them’, David explains.
A guide told me the interesting stories behind the photographs. Following the tradition of street photography, David took his time, he talked to the people, listened to their stories and only then he made his photographs. He didn’t want to be just a passer-by. ‘By working closely with my subject, I aim to remove any barrier between us, and instead build rapport and trust. It is about the honesty of the moment, taken mainly in the streets or places where they live. I like what I see in daylight, hence no artificial lighting was used.’
Sadly these stories were not added to the exhibit, since David wanted people to experience their own emotions and to make up their own stories. For me it would have given more depth to these personal and intimate photographs that touch and move you. You can feel the compassion and the respect he has for his subject.
Ageing is a topic that comes up more and more, since we as a people are getting older. And also more and more in combination with: who is going to pay for all the extra care old people need? How can old people lead meaningful lives? Other than in most Western countries, the majority of old people in Asian countries depend on family and friends for food, shelter and care. Not having a caring family or friends can have dire consequences. Not just materially, but also socially: the loss of self-worth and belonging can be devastating. Community work, wherein David is also active, tries to combat this negative trend in society.
Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or to be deserted by them, for the test of a civilisation is the way it cares for its helpless members. Pearl S. Buck (1892 – 1973).”
Address: Soka Exhibition Hall, Ground Floor, Wisma Kebudayaan SGM,
243, Jalan Bukit Bintang,
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03 2144 8686
Date: 9 – 24 June, 2012
Time: Open daily, 11.00 – 18.00