Trade Life was done for Artwalk Little India 2015 and is based on a district in Singapore called Little India.
For such a small district, the diversity of businesses in Little India is amazing. One can find industrial manufacturing and boutique hotels on the same street. It is this diversity of trades that the work seeks to touch on. The diversity gives Little India its character and soul.
I experienced this diversity first hand, when I visited my grandfather’s factory when I was a child. The factory was a shophouse that was a dirty old space filled with discarded electronics. There were so many that it choked the shophouse entrance and extended out into the yard. Old Chinese men sat along the hallways of junk and stripped old electronics of their copper wires and other recyclable materials while truckloads of more junk were unloaded by Indian workers. That’s what I remember of my grandfather’s scrap metal business along Dickson Road before it moved its headquarters to a bigger building. My grandfather would sit in a tiny office slightly bigger than a toilet cubicle, maintaining his books and ensuring that the junk his workers collected is properly processed to make a profit through recycling.
In Trade Life, I chose to focus on the hands of people because it is how these people earn their living. I wanted the hands to have a life of their own, changing from tools to living entities within their own rights. A living creature providing a living for the people.
In order to create this entity, I needed to take the hands out its original context while retaining its function. I had to distort its form. I found that I could achieve this by mirroring the image. While the hands worked, it created quick shifting organic shapes that looked like alien creatures. However, it was not the effect of the mirror that gave the hands that characteristic but the movements itself.