Dis(place)ment

By: Elizabeth Heng

This was a photo series I put together for my Documentary Photography class, where we were tasked with taking photographs of the urban environment that showed a sense of place.

An issue that has been on my mind for some time now is that of how the elderly fit into modern Singapore. Singapore progresses a rate that’s perhaps too fast: in two generations we’ve gone from kampungs to a concrete jungle, and I can’t help but think of whether the elderly are able to keep up with this fast-paced development. This thought first crossed my mind when I was in Tiong Bahru and found it odd that I saw so many elderly people in the gentrified estate when it hit me that they were here first, before the cafes and the accompanying hipsters. Tiong Bahru is a housing estate with a high proportion of elderly residents, so how weird was it that I felt that the elderly were more out of place in their own neighbourhood than the young people around?

These photographs are my way of exploring the issue of how the elderly fit into our city, and of challenging my own perceptions of our seniors. I hope that the elderly will continue to remain relevant in society’s eyes — the generations above us are so many things we cannot be, and we have much to learn from them. I hope you’ll take the time to ponder on this and draw your own conclusions.