An “Unspoken Life” Finds Its Voice

On December 15, 2017, Aidha launched its second photography exhibition under the banner of “Unspoken Life”. The opening night returned to the intimate Intersections Gallery on Kandahar Street, seeing members of the media and representatives from the Indonesian and Philippines embassies come together with corporate partners and Aidha supporters to celebrate the artistic creativity of foreign domestic workers in Singapore.

Written by: Alex Campbell

Special thanks to event sponsor Ken Cambie, Yvonne Chan, Chua Yi Wen and Chung Li Li and Lourdes Abela Samson. Competition finalist Ritchelle Mantiquilla shared her experience as a domestic worker – an experience that she captured beautifully in a black and white photograph of the child of the family she works for. Her image sets the tone for the year’s showcase, which aimed to curate images that present the lives of foreign domestic workers –beneath the surface, beyond the labels and through their lens.

The competition and exhibition ran in connection with International Migrant Workers Day and was opened to the public on 16th and 17th December 2017. In 2016, the competition saw over 80 photographs from women from Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, India and Myanmar. Last year, the competition drew in over 340 photographs! Consequently, the size of competition at this past year’s exhibition has upped a notch…seeing finalists Ritchelle Mantiquilla, Sugiarti Mustiarjo, Josephine Abay-abay and Hodijah Tan honoured as winners. The People’s Choice Award was particularly competitive this year, and ultimately went to Ana Rohana for her striking image of two fishermen as they prepared for an afternoon of fishing – an image that resonated with audiences, marveling at its clean composition and contrast, with a mirage-like effect. In keeping with the tradition established in the inaugural year of 2016, the finalists’ photographs were made available for sale at the event, with proceeds going to the “Gift of Education” fundraising campaign.

Responses to this past year’s competition and exhibition were once again wholly positive, and the over 100 visitors to the gallery expressed that they were impressed by the extent of creativity and photographic skills exhibited by the finalists, who conveyed a range of emotional breadth in their visual narratives. Aidha’s Communications Manager and competition judge, Ida Supahat commented: “I was blown away by the standard of the photographers. They understood the technicality, and also how to capture the story and emotion of the photograph really well!”

Several workshops ran as part of the event: Partner Sing Lit Station organised a Poetry workshop that was facilitated by local poet, Crispin Rodrigues; a live “Sketching Corner” was organised by Unstitching Boundaries; and a Photography workshop was run by Aidha volunteer, Elvin Ling, in conjunction with event partner Lensational, an NGO that aims to empower women through photography. Experienced Aidha mentors returned with the popular Money Management Game, which allowed visitors to gain a better understanding of Aidha’s mission and ways of empowering foreign domestic workers and low-income women through financial education.

This fantastic event would not have been possible without Aidha’s partners and volunteers, special thanks go to event partners Lensational, Sing Lit Station, Unstitching Boundaries and the wonderful Intersections Gallery. The 2017 “Unspoken Life” exhibition certainly raised the bar – setting a high precedent for even more exciting visual stories in this year’s upcoming Aidha’s 3rd Photography Competition 2018!

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