Picturing social change

Picturing social change

Improvements to social support for migrant workers in Singapore have been ongoing for years, but artist Sean Cham, 24, feels that more can be done to better their welfare.

“Every other week, I still read about migrant workers not receiving proper treatment or suffering workplace injury and unfortunate mishaps,” he says.

In a bid to bring to light the circumstances of these workers, who are often hidden behind noise panels, safety barriers and the walls of private homes, Cham embarked on the photo project, This is Where. The series, shot in 2018, comprises gently satirical photographs of migrant workers posed against construction sites.

A work in Cham’s photo series, This is Where.

The photographs will be exhibited as part of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2019 and displayed as advertisement panels at selected bus shelters in Singapore.

On the unusual location for the photo exhibition, Cham says he hopes the accessibility of the bus shelters will allow the photos to reach a wider audience, and in turn raise public awareness of migrant worker issues and inspire people to act and effect change.

In his conversations with the migrant workers he photographed for This is Where, many of them mentioned that although they are happy to be working in Singapore, they also struggle with challenges such as fitting in.

This is not the first time Cham has trained his camera lens on the migrant worker community. He photographed them in 2015 for his photo series, Singapore Dream, in which he depicted their aspirations.

He says: “If we can celebrate samsui women and majies, we should also recognise the efforts of their modern-day equivalent – our foreign workers.”


Details on This is Where here.

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