The personal treasures, private rituals and aspirations of home
Alecia Neo is a photographer based in Singapore who, together with Samantha Tio, captured the production images of the TIONG BAHRU film.
Alecia often works in Queenstown, the old neighbourhood where her father runs his business and brought her up. Her work features people in their environments, investigating common human experiences of alienation and loneliness, dislocation and belonging, and the search for self.
As a child, her father’s rowdy hardware store was an introduction to almost everyone in the small community, by simply waiting and observing the customers. The greatest of all was listening to fascinating stories and gossip about her neighbours.
Says Alecia of her work: “I am most drawn to individuals with stories to tell, common people with imperfections. I see my own vulnerability in theirs. I love how photography allows me to form new relationships with people, and how it allows an entry point to the unknown.”
In her latest body of work, the Home Visits series, Alecia photographed Queenstown residents in their homes. Says Alecia,
Being one of Singapore’s oldest housing estates developed by the government’s public housing authority, Queenstown is populated with curious characters. Some have lived in this area all their lives, building a tight knit social group within the estate, while others are foreigners, making this place home temporarily.
I find myself being captivated by the way these individuals move and rest in their spaces. One central aspect of the work is the investigation of Home, the idea of ownership, identity and that of movement and the search for rootedness.
Our home contains personal treasures, private rituals and the aspirations of the owners and those who live in it. In this series, the idea of home is not simply confined to our houses, but also to spaces that people spend a great deal of time in, such that these spaces, such as the community karaoke club and wet market, have become an extension of the people themselves.
These images are the beginning of an attempt to delve deeper into the psyche and lives of people who have made their homes in Singapore. While the nation is often conveniently dismissed as monotonous and operating with clinical dentistry, the presence of these tender individuals appears enchanting.