“How She Loves”
by Charmaine Poh
“How She Loves” is an ongoing series of collaborative portraits featuring queer female couples in Singapore. Made within a studio, the portraits consider the performativity that queer couples adopt as a result of societal codes, and the world they wish to reside in.
Using wedding props such as bowties, flowers, and veils, the couples play dress up, interacting with matrimonial tropes and constructed gender roles. Projected onto the backdrop are their parents’ wedding portraits, a visual reminder of the heteronormative histories that have shaped many LGBTQ people’s lives, and a juxtaposition to the future they hope to create.
Homosexual relations remain illegal in Singapore due to a colonial-era penal code, 377(a), which dictates that a man cannot have sex with another man. Women are not mentioned in the legislation. Couples who identify as non-heterosexual do not possess any legal or administrative rights in Singapore, affecting issues such as marriage, their ability obtain public housing, and hospital visitations.
This series was first initiated through a residency at the Exactly Foundation in 2018.
Charmaine Poh is a Chinese-Singaporean artist based between Singapore and Berlin. Her image-making practice employs ethnographic methods, focusing on issues of memory, gender, youth, and solitude in the Asian context. Often working with portraiture, she considers the performance of self and the layers of identity we build. She works with communities in a collaborative process that holds space for introspection, intimacy, and sharing. She is interested in the stories that make us who we are. She has showcased her work through platforms like the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival, the Singapore International Photography Festival, Objectifs Centre for Photography and Filmmaking, The Taipei Arts Festival, The International Center of Photography, Photoville, WeTransfer, Channel News Asia, and The New York Times. In 2019, she was recognized as one of Forbes Asia 30 under 30 — The Arts. She graduated from Tufts University with an B.A. in International Relations, and is currently pursuing an M.A. in Visual and Media Anthropology at the Freie Universität Berlin.