No English? No Problem!

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Women: New Portraits by Annie Leibovitz

Today (Sunday, May 8) I went to the Annie Leibovitz photo exhibition at the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. Since one of my personal goals is to improve my photography, I thought it would be worthwhile to learn from a master, oops, mistress of the craft.

I was only armed with a humble iPhone and my lacklustre skill, so no comparisons hor...

 The exhibition was sponsored by UBS and it's a world tour which began in London in January. Other countries on the world tour include New York, Zurich, Tokyo and Hongkong.

The Exhibition Hall

While walking, I notice some light and movement inside the old ticket counter. What the...?

When I walked in, I realized they had created a reading nook inside. There were chairs and sofas and photography books from a wide variety of photographers for you to browse through.

While the area looked tempting, I couldn't stay for more than 5 minutes because it was just too hot! There were 2 reading nooks and both only had the standing air con unit for ventilation so the room became very stuffy and humid very quickly. 

This is the book which you can find her works from the exhibition as well as many more. I think I would rather browse it at Kino......

The print photographs displayed were of various well-known female figures from politics and the arts and others. I don't know if I can accurate pinpoint or describe the Leibovitz style but there were 2 points that struck me in the photos I saw:

She took photos of her subjects in their own comfort zones.
Adele was taken while seated at a piano, a prominent historian was taken while in her study, and a US ambassador in her office. The subjects weren't always the major focus of the photo and they were placed in a setting that expanded our understanding of them. So for example, in the photo of Adele, we do not see her just as Adele, we would see her as Adele, the Musician.

This is interesting because when we think of portrait photography, we always think that we should focus on the person and the face. Most commonly, we think of the studio shot, shot against a plain background. Leibovitz shows that a portrait can be taken out of the studio in order to show more of the character behind the face.

Her subjects show strength and vulnerability at the same time
I'm not sure if this was because of the rapport between the photographer and the subject or because of the subject chosen. Most of the women in the photos seem to show this contrasting dichotomy. Could it be because as working women, we are expected to be strong but yet we still have an inherent softness? Ah, I'll let my feminist friends argue that point out... 

Most striking were the 2 photos of Yoko Ono. One was a Rolling Stones cover which showed her and John Lennon in the same bed. The other was a close up of Yoko Ono's face. There seemed to be years of difference between the two but the captions will tell you that the photos were taken only 1 year apart. A few hours after the Rolling Stones cover photo was taken, Lennon was shot. And the grief and misery was clearly apparent on Yoko's 2nd photo.

All in all, I liked the exhibition though I wish that more photos were displayed and that they had better ventilation! If you want to visit, the exhibition is on till 22 May. Read more about the exhibition by clicking on these little highlighted words.

No comments: