Conceived in July 2013, ‘Salvaging the Sentimental’ started off as a project which to locate and archive photographs from personal family albums of the Peranakan Chinese community in Singapore. As most photographs are kept in family albums and personal ‘archives’, this project calls for participants willing to contribute and share not only images but also memories and anecdotes that accompany the photograph. ‘The Portrait Project’ (2014) will now look at the practice of portraiture as a wider tradition.
An independent project established as part of the author’s doctoral thesis (The Production of Portraiture under the Patronage of the Straits Chinese in Colonial Singapore). A large aspect of the author’s doctoral work addresses theoretical issues on private and institutional archives and the importance in documenting the ‘life biographies’ of portraits. As colonial Singapore cannot be talked about separate from the Straits Settlements (Singapore, Malacca, Penang) and other colonies, the author also draws material from other colonial constructions, with some references to the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), Victorian England and Imperial China. However, nominating Singapore as a locus and geographical point of reference.
This project hopes to eventually form a register of memoirs with an accompanying archive of photographs from personal family albums not only to contribute to the study of portrait photography but also provide insight into the histories of collecting, and the life biographies of the photographs told by their present day ‘guardians’.
This project hopes to form a digital database of containing ‘visual narratives of the past’, a collection of ‘living chronicles’.
Hence, the crux of this project is to document these vestiges while it is still possible. Portraitsofthestraits.com envisions to culminate into a database of photographic material accompanied by oral histories documenting
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