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“Small-Town Stories”
Yeo Workshop

Yeo Workshop is proud to present the photography and research of Zhuang Wubin’s 小城故事 | Small-Town Stories. This is the first time the artist’s work will be presented in a gallery setting, featuring not only limited editions of his prints, but also his field notes, as well as a box of collected photographs and artefacts affectionately referred to as a ‘portable museum’ that viewers can browse.

Despite their longstanding presence, the histories of the rural Chinese communities in Southeast Asia have yet to be written. And this may affect the legitimacy of their belonging, cautioned political scientist Mary Somers Heidhues some two decades back. Since then, there have been various attempts by historians and anthropologists to address this gap of knowledge.

This project takes Heidhues’ caution as the starting point. It aims to collect/aestheticise stories and artefacts of these Sinophone communities using photography, text and video. Broadly speaking, Zhuang is interested in the Chinese who live in places that are no longer considered the primary cities of the region, including semi-rural towns and locales in the countryside. Their forefathers first arrived at these places as indentured labour, political refugees or energetic mercenaries. Over time, they fashioned identities and cultures that differed from people of their ancestral lands and the places where they settled. Visiting these sites today, it becomes easier to understand Chinese-ness as something fluid, contingent or temporary.

Zhuang Wubin

Zhuang Wubin (b. 1978, Singapore) is a writer, curator, educator and artist.

As an artist, Zhuang uses photography and text to visualise the Sinophone communities in Southeast Asia. As a writer/curator, Zhuang focuses on the photographic practices in Southeast Asia. A 2010 recipient of the research grant from Prince Claus Fund (Amsterdam), Zhuang is an editorial board member of Trans-Asia Photography Review, a journal published by the Hampshire College and the University of Michigan Scholarly Publication Office. He has been invited to research residency programmes at Institute Technology of Bandung (2013) and Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong (2015). He is the contributing curator of the biennial Chiang Mai Photo Festival (2015, 2017).

  • Zhuang Wubin

    Zhuang Wubin