Photograph it before it's gone

That's pretty much the spirit behind my friend Kay Chin's ongoing photographic project, Enbloc: Collective Memories. He's setting out to document old, and not-so-old, homes in Singapore which have the en bloc sword of Damocles hanging over them.

(The term "en bloc", for my dear foreign readers, is Singapore shorthand for the recent phenomenon of property developers snapping up entire housing projects, so that they can tear them down and build obscenely profitable new condominiums and the like. Their formula is usually simple: replace the existing units with 3-4 times as many smaller apartment units on the same plot of land. As more of these projects have gotten underway, there's been much national hand-wringing and lamentation about the buildings of historical, cultural or simply idiosyncratic significance at stake.)

If you live in a residential development that's going under the en bloc hammer (or maybe 'wrecking ball" is the better metaphor), let Kay Chin take a picture of it and perhaps use it in a future exhibition or book, and in return you get a signed photograph of your favourite spot in your home.

I'm lucky in that all the places I've ever lived in Singapore are still extant, as are the schools that I attended (though the buildings might be put to other uses today). I'm pretty much a minority though --- most people have a story that begins with "My school was closed down ... " or "We used to live there but it was demolished to build ... "

Things have a short shelf life in Singapore. Even honking big buildings.


Related posts: Singapore, vividly yours

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