Wednesday, March 08, 2006

My first exhibit.

Ok, so.

The past week has been an awful amateur's nightmare of sorts, what with getting my prints done (the selection process was entirely unsatisfactory) and setting up (blue panels had to be covered with black cloth, because.. i'm just that fussy)... but what's done is done, and I am pleased.

It wasn't so at first though. When I was done with everything, I sat at a corner of the library feeling entirely exhausted and wanting to just fall asleep right there and then. I felt like a 9-5 job person who went clubbing every single day of the week. I looked at my photos cramped together on these tiny panels and I felt utterly unsatisfied. Both with the presentation and my work. Definitely not my best, I'll be the first to admit that.

But then the people trickled in. A lot strolled on by, rushing to the second floor to borrow books. But there were those who came forward and looked. I'd never studied people's faces so intensely before, but now I did. Are they reading the captions? What sequence are they looking at? Why is he squinting!?

And I was surprised and touched to see that all those who slowed down to look at the pictures came forward and took the time to read what I had written.

At one point, the library cleaner came and took a slow tour around the photos. She didn't seem to read the captions, but she excitedly pointed out Masiah to her colleague. "Ah you see you see! This one at Kembangan MRT!"

She seemed to feel an affinity with Masiah because they were both Malay, like she was proud her long lost sister was being featured.

And in a encouraging boost, Xiaoling dropped by to lend her support and smsed me later that she had overheard a man looking at the photos and remarking in Mandarin "ta men ye shi ren" ("They're people too").

And when a young boy I'd been observing actually stopped to read out loud quietly every single caption and text, I just teared lah.

I don't know how to explain it, but I guess this project must've meant more to me than I thought it did. It really matters.

So yes. I am pleased. It's not the prettiest exhibit, nor the most glamerous, but it did what I set out to do, and I really couldn't ask for more.

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