Like the Shoemaker’s Elves who worked through the night, there are many volunteers that work hard behind the scenes to ensure the festival runs smoothly. In Singapore, nearly all art festivals call for volunteers while there are some festivals that are entirely run by volunteers. Volunteers of the Singapore International Photography Festival (SIPF) share with ArtZine about their love for photography and their experience as a volunteer at the festival.
“I am currently doing a diploma in Fine Art Photography at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. I heard about the SIPF from my lecturer who also prompted me to volunteer. To me, it would be good exposure to see how the industry is like and to get to know more people in the art scene.” At the festival, Serena did more of logistic work like painting the gallery walls and putting up prints. “On completion of painting 78 panels in 6hrs, 3 of us were relieved that it was done. It was a great achievement.” Through her work with the technical side of the festival, Serena honed “several technical skills such as using the lazer leveler and learned that different backing of the prints require different types mounting tapes.” When asked what she would like to see in future SIPF’s, she replied that she hoped to see works of different kinds such as pinhole photographs or photograms.
Favourites of the Festival
“Brea Souders (USA). I like her shot of a woman carrying a cat across the stream. She had successfully captured the relationship between the cat and the woman, showing how precious the cat was to the woman. I felt that because of this, the photograph stood out from the others in the series.”
“Frank Pinckers. He had all his shoots taken in a natural environment, and we get to view the simple life of rural areas through his images. I agree with his statement that film photography is full of surprises. It is uncontrolled and one can always expect the unexpected.”
Armed with her NikonD80 and Yashica FX-3, this young volunteer may soon see her own photos displayed at future SIPF’s. Click here to see one of Serena’s photos.
Mary Bernadette Lee
Photography is the entrance to worlds beyond imagination worthy of mighty contemplation & heartfelt appreciation.
“I was at Manesh’s Let There Be Light exhibition one evening and I happened to be casually reading the ‘Call for Volunteers’ notice outside the gallery. Jay (festival logistics manager) noticed and roped me in there and then.” It was her love for photography that inspired her to join as a volunteer. “The dedication and commitment I witnessed in the gallery and the printing studio motivated me a great deal. Here, were people who did not mind sacrificing their time, sleep and personal recreational time to give something to society without so much of expecting anything back in return. I volunteered because I wanted to be part of this festival; this phenomenal movement to bring photography to greater heights.”
With her Canon EOS 400D in hand, Mary’s passion for photography grew since her University days. While Serena helped with the logistics part of the SIPF, Mary assisted in “editing the writeups submitted by the photogs. So, the description you see in the programme booklets and write-ups up on the walls were my 2 cents worth of contribution to the festival. “Once, I stayed up to 5.30am. My eyes were almost closing but I was still typing away. Jay happened to see it and exclaimed, ‘Wah, Mary pro ah. Eyes closed also can type. I also want to learn.’ It is a mean feat, no doubt about it. The next day, I was this close to going about my daily activities with my eyes closed as well.
There’s room for the festival to grow though, says Mary. “Subsidiaries need to be more supportive. It is actually a giant step to embracing photography at a brand new level, internationally, regionally and locally. At future SIPF’s there should be “more exhibits of varying types like lomography, more workshops and more locals coming forth to submit their photographs. Perhaps it might be better to have the SIPF during the school holidays, not during the time when most students are having their exams.”
Favourites of the Festival
GMB Akash (Bangladesh) The images are very stark and jolting to my senses. I revel in the raw and real elements of pain, toil & poverty; intrinsically heartwrenching.
Han Tan. I love photos that have a ‘dreamy’ feel to it. I like that it has a poetic poignant element to it.
Take a look at one of Mary’s photographs here.
I have learned a lot about photography as an art form, as well as about the process of organising an international event.
“I had just arrived in Singapore not long before I went to 2902 Gallery for an opening and met Gwen (festival director). As she told me about the festival and her mission, I was immediately convinced. I share her passion and vision for the festival. With a strong passion for photography I felt that I could offer my experience and skills for a great cause. I saw an opportunity to support great people and to learn more about photography in Singapore and the region.”
Anke has helped at different stages of the festival, with a long task list. “I attended to various administrative functions, including coordination and liaising with artists and international contributors, meetings with sponsors and festival partners. Meeting the international contributors and artists and experiencing the shared passion for photography was amazing. The feeling of community and sense of support for something we believe in is something that I can’t describe.”
Favourite pieces of the Festival
International photographer: Vee Speers
Singaporean photographer: Tan Ching Yee
Photography, to Anke, is a way of life. “Seeing is opening your heart,” she adds. At future SIPF’s, she would love to see photographers using the opportunity to share and exchange. “I would like to see the Photography community become stronger and united, so that artists/photographers feel supported.”
Read more about the SIPF here.
Coming soon to ArtZine: A chat with Singaporean photographer Robert Zhao, a festival volunteer whose photos are on display. What was he involved in?