Republic of Pulau Semakau (A Story about People and their Trash)
The things we throw away tell much about who we are. Dustbins are, essentially, a part of one’s personal space, almost akin to a type of ‘identity autopsy’. Through photographs of trash and their environment, viewers are exposed to things owned and disowned by different people.
Pieced together, this body of work anchors to issues of waste management in Singapore — to realise that things we individually discard, will collectively contribute to Singapore’s only landfill on the offshore island of Pulau Semakau.
In 1999, after having exhausted the landfills on mainland Singapore, Singapore created a Semakau landfill by enclosing Pulau Semakau and a small adjacent island with a rock bund.
In this light, we, could all be considered “founders” of this reclaimed portion of the island. It has never occurred to us where all these rubbish end up in land-scarce and over-populated Singapore.
Hopefully these dustbins will serve as a reality check for us all.
About the Artist
Zinkie Aw [Singapore, b. 1985] believes that every click of the shutter, be it instinctive or deliberate, is an observation of life via photography. Her observations revolve around issues of identity, urban consumption, trends and the environment.
Her documentary and conceptual photo series are flamboyant ways of thinking out loud, and relating to her community and the ever-changing world at large on issues close to her heart that she wishes to share with the world.
But behind these photographs are also recurring themes that keep coming back to her. These works are the precipitation of careful introspection she has day-to-day, and reactions to the society that she lives in.