Creative Works/Competitions

Bartell Prize: Ernest Tan (Class of 2019)

On 22 February 2019, Ernest Tan (Class of 2019) received the inaugural Bartell Prize awarded at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies’ Human Development Conference (HDC). An Urban Studies major, Ernest was awarded the prize for his capstone research project titled ‘Living Off the Land: Sand Mining, Property Rights, and the Preferential Option for the Poor in Kenya.’ His project focused on the causes of sand mining in a peri-urban village (a hybrid landscape comprising both urban and rural elements) in Kisumu, Kenya, where villagers have been mining sand since 1978. He conducted semi-structured interviews with different members of the community, including villagers, government officials and community leaders, in which he had a set of predetermined questions but would also allow the conversation to flow organically. Ernest attributes his ability to conduct multi-method research to the interdisciplinary focus of the Urban Studies programme at Yale-NUS College.

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Objectifs Documentary Awards Champions (Emerging Category): Dave Lim

The award enables photographers to work on new or existing projects, encouraging them to discover and tell stories about their native communities. It welcomes different creative approaches to non-fiction storytelling, from conventional documentary photography to visual experiments.

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Yesteryears – Sean Cham

Yesteryears captures 50 abandoned and forgotten places in Singapore through a series of in situ self-portraits. The buildings photographed are in different states of ruination, from the crumbling roofs of Istana Woodneuk to the soon-to-be demolished Rochor Centre. These buildings represent the modern ruins of post-independence Singapore, an era that lives not only with progress but also the fleeting ruins left in its wake. In a city that is ever modernising and growing, there is barely any room for the ruin. Buildings that are deemed obsolete will be torn down to make way for something bigger and better. But in the face of the storm called progress, as German philosopher Walter Benjamin expounded in ‘Thesis on the Philosophy of History’, it is important to retain our historical consciousness.

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First Storeys (The Future of our Pasts Festival 2019) – Sean Cham

First Storeys interrogates the “kampung to metropolis” narrative, focusing on the period of large scale resettlement in Singapore from the 1950s to the 1990s. Through a speculative theatrical installation, the piece surfaces lesser-known stories surrounding the process of resettlement. The installation was housed in 300 Jalan Bukit Ho Swee, the former Bukit Ho Swee Community Center. This was also the site of the Bukit Ho Swee fire in 1961, a turning point in the housing narrative of Singapore, which left more than 16,000 people homeless.

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