Two Inadequate Voices


2IV is a platform for image-makers to recount and reflect textually on their stories of being out in the world whilst photographing.

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Ying Ang
Photography as a Means of Preservation.

We sell rice downstairs.

My father has lived and worked in this shophouse on and off since 1955. There are about 5 or 6 typewriters scattered around, a bicycle from the late fifties from the office boy (who still works for us, and who is still referred to as the office boy even though he’s in his 60s now), an abacus that was probably used to count the first dollars that came through the business and a single bed that my dad bought and assembled himself in case I ever wanted to sleepover.

I come to this “office” whenever I make a trip to Singapore. My dad and I trek up the musty stairs to his personal quarters at the top of the shophouse and by the time we reach his room, it’s so hot that he immediately has to strip down to his underwear in an attempt to cool off. It was 38 degrees in that room today. 90% humidity. I sit next to him and we talk about the news. He shows me videos on youtube. I read the paper and he plays solitaire for a while. I love being there with him. It’s a part of me. This place forms the foundation of my personal history that began before I took my first breaths, back when my father was a boy and when his parents were desperately and tenaciously sweating their way out of a pre-industrial poverty.

Now he is an old man and inasmuch as he still kicks my ass at tennis and golf, I am aware.. oh so aware of the passing of time, the aging of men and things, the dust collected on surfaces and the typewriters (how I love those typewriters) sitting unused and at the end of their ribbon.

The office boy is on leave today. His mother passed away a few days ago so he’s not coming back to work until next week. I open one of the drawers beneath an old television in my late grandfather’s office. There is a microphone plugged into a pale gold console. I turn to my dad with a questioning look. He smiles and tells me that the office boy comes in after working hours, when he thinks that everyone has gone home, and sings karaoke here by himself. Old Chinese love songs from the 70s.

Ying Ang is a Singaporean-born Melbourne-based photographer and author currently on the teaching faculty at the ICP in New York and is the Director of Reflexions 2.0. Her first photobook, Gold Coast, won the New York Photo Festival and Encontros Da Imagem book prize and was a finalist for Australian Photobook of the Year. Ying initiated Le Space Gallery in Melbourne and works on press stories for publications including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Time, Vice, and Huck.