Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Aik Beng Chia | Lao Sai Tao Yuan

Teochew opera, or Chaozhou opera, is one of the many variants of Chinese opera, and originated in Chaoshan region in south China. It was popular in Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore. 

Chinese opera is a popular form of drama and musical theatre with roots going back to the early periods in China. It is a composite performance art mixing various art forms that existed in ancient China, and evolved gradually over more than a thousand years, reaching its mature form in the 13th century during the Song Dynasty. It evolved to include various art forms, such as music, song and dance, martial arts, acrobatics, as well as literary art forms to become Chinese opera.

Above is a photo slideshow by Singaporean photographer Aik Beng Chia of Lao Sai Tao Yuan, the only group that survived all these years. It was formed in early 19th century and is the oldest remaining Teochew Opera in Singapore.

Photos © Aik Beng Chia-All Rights Reserved
I liked the way that Mr Chia juxtaposed the portraits of the Teochew opera performers side by side; the monochromatic ones in their daily street clothes, and the colored ones in their costumed regalia.

Aik Beng Chia started photographing the daily lives of people on the streets of Singapore in 2008. Since then, these images have earned him a strong following on Instagram numbering over 20,000. They have also caught the attention of UK newspaper, The Guardian, which let him take over the Guardian Travel Instagram account for a three-day special feature on Singapore as seen through his eyes. He has also been invited to be a contributor to Everyday Asia on Instagram, and his works have been exhibited and published internationally.

Aik Beng started the “Singkarpor” project in 2011, and of the thousands of photos taken since, a carefully curated collection will be shown at its exhibition. In 2013, he launched his first monograph "Tonight The Streets Are Ours" published by the Invisible Photographer Asia, which showed Singapore's Little India after dusk.