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Young Singapore Photographer Elsa Wong On Remaining Optimistic

Twelve creatives give us their perspective through never-before-published works that reflect their frame of mind mid-circuit-breaker. Here, Elsa Wong, the photographer and member of fashion collective Youths In Balaclava shares hers.

The work

“I shot this series of images for a book titled An Intimate Orchestra: The Anatomy and its Mechanics that I created for my final-year project as a Fashion Media and Industries student at Lasalle College of the Arts. The book’s premise: An individual’s body is very much like an organic machine with both an empathetic side and a more mechanical side that helps keep it alive and upright.

In a way, it is like a show for one; an intimate and tenacious orchestra (and the book set out to express this visually). I was very hands-on with the project, creating the garments and props. I was unafraid to carry out my plans even though I was on a student budget. It all reminds me of the tenacious spirit my friends and I had in school, finding ways to achieve our big ideas with nothing seeming impossible.

Read More: At Lasalle, A Different Kind Of Graduate Fashion Show For Its Class Of 2020

I think this spirit applies to any challenges and it motivates me in a situation like this pandemic, when we should all the more step outside of our comfort zones. It’s possible to be creative in any situation and find inspiration anywhere.”

On the disruption of current projects, and working around it

“I had a few projects I was working on that was disrupted by the pandemic, some had to be postponed till the circuit-breaker is over and some were ongoing that needed a change in approach to complete the project.

One of the projects was for Pure Ever, an art collective, we had recently done an exhibition in collaboration with I_S_L_A_N_D_S called PrayPal. We had been working on the exhibition since March and as we were nearing the opening date, the circuit-breaker was announced and we knew that we would not be able to have an opening. We had intended for the works and installations to be viewed in their physical space. However, until the circuit-breaker ends, no one will be able to view these works physically.

Read more: Using Clever Product Design To Battle The Coronavirus

We had to think of solutions of how we could bring the exhibition online and still create an immersive experience. In that short time, which was about a week, we scrambled together ideas and modes of capturing our work. We had planned a Facebook Live stream with a panel discussion on a software called IMVU – you can create your avatars and join the room – and added a 360-degree capture of the works and the space. We installed a CCTV so we could view the space live on the Facebook stream.

We stuck to the programme of the showcase as much as possible, even holding an artist talk on Facebook Live a few weeks ago to go more in-depth into the works and installations. This created a more intimate space for the artist and the viewer – even though it’s virtual.”

“The pandemic has shown that a sense of optimism is important.” – Elsa Wong

On how essential the arts is

“The creative industry is filled with different communities and there are always new and innovative ways to involve everyone and to make sure that there is a safe space both online and offline. It has allowed many to be able to find peers they can connect with and give them a sense of belonging. Creative people can be optimistic and imaginative. The pandemic has shown that a sense of optimism is important, especially, for those who have lost work and all the things they looked forward to have become lost opportunities.

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The fashion industry has always been hyper-functional and adaptive to any situation and bumps. There are pros and cons when it comes to how they handle situations – the cons usually show the uglier side of the industry like its treatment of workers. But seeing how the fashion industry has responded to the pandemic, it creates a solution and something to look forward to in the future. It serves as an inspiration for aspiring creatives and designers that you do not have to put creativity on hold and that it can be used to make a change if you actively seek to.”

This article first appeared in the June 2020 Collaboration Issue of FEMALE.