The Vietnam War was said to be the first and possibly also the last war where there was no censorship. Print photographs and TV broadcast footage were reality shows of the losses on all sides of the conflicts. The world saw the works too of three brave Singaporean war cameramen, as shown at REQUIEM – By the photographers who died in Vietnam and Indochina.
Let us pay tribute to the late Mr Chellappah s/o Canagaratnam (also known as Charles Chellappah or Charlie Chellappah), Mr Sam Kai Faye and Mr Terence Khoo (also known as Terry Khoo), two of whom were killed this month 39 years ago in the line of duty. All of them had one mission of showing the reality of the suffering that war had brought upon the innocent in Vietnam and Indochina.
Requiem is a travelling exhibition about the photographers who died in Vietnam and Indochina, from the 1950s to 1975. Mr Tim Page, a photographer who survived The Vietnam War, co-founded the Requiem book and exhibition with Mr Horst Faas to honour the dead and missing.
After going through a series of unsuccessful missions of trying to honour his fellow photographers with a little shrine under a young Bodhi tree in Vietnam. Mr Page finally found a way to rest their souls by first publishing the book and later the exhibition – REQUIEM – By the photographers who died in Vietnam and Indochina. There was a very long and tedious search for all the lost photographs. But as karma has its way of helping those with the intention to help others, most of the photographs miraculously found their way to Mr Page. Some negatives and printing instructions were even in beer crates for years.
The war did not just bring grief and sorrow to the civilians caught in the conflicts. Many people were sacrificed and the press who were doing their job were not spared either. Till now some press members are still missing. Their bodies were never found.
An old poster for the missing press members.
As sad as it may be, the works of war photographers live on through the publications and press companies they worked for, whether or not they won any awards, whether or not the photographers’ names are known. They are heroes in the eyes and hearts of their loved ones.
A Life publication cover with a photograph of one of the dead photographers.
Setting up the Requiem exhibition was not an easy task. There are strict exhibition installation specifications for Requiem. The Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts Gallery 1 and 2 were selected to host this exhibition as they are the only gallery in Singapore which could meet the requirements.
|Photographer Mr Charles Chellappah. He died in action during the Vietnam War, 1966. Photo courtesy of the Canagaratnam family.|
|Photographer and TV cameraman Mr Sam Kai Faye. He was the first Asian to win the Best News Picture in the British Press Pictures of the Year Competition in 1954. Photo courtesy of Mr Sam Yoke Tatt, nephew of Mr Sam Kai Faye.|
|Photographer and TV cameraman Mr Terence Khoo. He was dubbed “The Dean of the Vietnam Cameramen”. He left money to the University of Singapore for awards to medical students from poor families. Photo courtesy of Mr Sam Yoke Tatt.|
This was the site where buddies Mr Terence Khoo and Mr Sam Kai Faye died in action during the Vietnam War, 1972. ABC News set up a fellowship in their name for Asian students studying at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Photo courtesy of Mr Tony Yasutsune Hirashiki and Mr Chin Kah Chong.
Bullet holes through Mr Sam Kai Faye’s cinecamera.
Mr Chin Kah Chong, war correspondent, PANA News Agency, during the Vietnam War, 1965. Mr Terence Khoo, Mr Sam Kai Faye and he were good friends. Photo taken by Mr Terence Khoo, courtesy of Mr Chin Kah Chong.
Mr Chin Kah Chong, possibly the only living Singaporean journalist who was at the Vietnam War. He is writing a book in Chinese about his Vietnam War experiences.
Venue: Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) Galleries 1 and 2, 80 Bencoolen Street, Singapore 189655
Nearest MRT: Bugis, Bras Basah, City Hall
Guided Public Tour
Date: Saturday 23 July 2011
Time: 12pm to 2pm
Registration required. Please email [email protected]m.
Dates: Wednesday 13 Jul 2011 till Sunday 21 August 2011
Times: 11am to 7pm daily
Co-written with and Artitute photographs by Suzzana Chew.