Video by Charmaine Poh

YOUNG BODY responds to discourse surrounding the patriarchal gaze and the female body using found footage of my preteen body as a tween TV actor, as well as the process of Internet avatar creation as freedom-making.
As a young person, my body was consumed and dissected by an anonymous public on Internet forums. Ill-prepared for the language of desire and misogyny, I grew to detest my body until far into adulthood.

In this exercise, I re-examine this footage, reciting an article of legal advice pertaining to Singapore’s Protection from Harassment Act (POHA) , as a narrative arc of restitution. I continue re-writing the body through documenting the process of creating a digital avatar through a freely available website , questioning the options that we possess in determining ownership of our online selves, and if this offers any possibility for freedom.

I wish to thank Nirmala Seshadri for her invitation to respond to her oeuvre. Throughout her career, Nirmala has continuously chosen the harder path of challenging societal norms, often at the risk of her practice. For her vulnerability, steadfastness, and generosity, I have nothing but respect.

Charmaine Poh works across photography, film, and performance to create spaces for narratives that often lie in the margins. Central to her practice is considering the performativity of the everyday, the body, digital selves, and the use of tenderness as resistance and repair. Her practice often employs ethnographic methods in working with communities to establish processes of co-authorship and sharing.

She has exhibited her work at places such as the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival, the Singapore International Photography Festival, Objectifs Centre for Photography and Filmmaking, ArtScience Museum, The Taipei Arts Festival, Photoville, Instagram HQ, and The International Center of Photography.

Her work has been in publications such as  i-D, The New York Times, WePresent by WeTransfer, Artsy, CNN Style, among others.

In 2019, she was recognised as one of Forbes Asia 30 under 30 - The Arts.

She is the founder of communications studio Almost June.

Having lived in Boston and Berlin, she is currently based in Singapore.

© 2021 Charmaine Poh All Rights Reserved