Ruth Phng Keng Hwa

Temporary Residents

lumen prints

In my project "Temporary Residents", I photograph the lived spaces of my grandparents, using the alternative photographic technique of Lumen printing. Through this method, I explore an anticipation and acceptance of impermanence and death, aiming to convey that we should come to accept that the deaths of love ones can happen at any time, so that we may appreciate, love and care for them the best we can while they are still alive.

While taking these photographs back at my home country of Malaysia, I felt nostalgic. Nostalgic... maybe, because the spaces that I took were the spaces that my grandparents occupied and walked in. But they weren't the spaces they walked in since childhood. The house I stepped through, snapping the spaces of my grandparents, was a renovated space. Through my lens, their essence was captured, yet was never really there, to begin with. They have only entered recently, and will stay temporarily, until they move on again.

Spaces meeting, spaces walked in, spaces left. Yet, the spaces in itself were never really there.

And it is this that I wanted to explore; that ephemeral, temporal space they lived in so that I will be able to reach in and provide a remembrance of them. To show that they were, for the parts of my life that they inhabited, important to me, and will live on in me. In time, my grandparents will die, and in time, their traces will eventually fade away. But just because we forget the spaces they walked in, doesn't mean they weren't there. This will be how I will remember them, to show them that I loved them, still love them, and will continue loving them, beyond material boundaries.