SIIA Chairman Simon Tay was the special guest at the opening of Requiem: By the Photographers Who Died in Vietnam and Indochina.
The exhibition features more than 300 photographs taken by photojournalists who were killed or reported missing. The exhibition is a memorial to the men and women on both sides of the war who gave their lives covering the conflict. Several photos in the gallery were taken just minutes before the photographer behind the lens was killed.
Speaking at the launch, Simon Tay said the Vietnam War was not just a single conflict, it also symbolises an entire era for South-east Asia. The end of the Cold War has brought Vietnam and Cambodia into the ASEAN community. But the images in the exhibition serve as a powerful reminder of sacrifices made in the region's long journey.
Among the photographers featured in the exhibition are three Singaporeans, part of a small band of local journalists who left the calm of Singapore to tell the story of the conflict through their photos.
Charles Chellapah (Chellapah s/o Canagaratnam) was killed by a Vietcong mine while trying to rescue wounded. Terrence Khoo and Sam Kai Faye were caught by snipers while crossing a field.
Their images were among thousands gathered by photographers Horst Faas and Tim Page, who were themselves wounded in Vietnam. They decided that the works of famous photojournalists like Robert Capa and Larry Burrows would hang alongside the work of unknown and lesser-known photographers.
Tim Page said every time Requiem opens in a different city, he learns more about his lost friends. Until the show came to Singapore, little was known about Charles Chellapah, Terrence Khoo and Sam Kai Faye. But now their families have come forward, sharing recollections of their loved ones.
Requiem: By the Photographers Who Died in Vietnam and Indochina is presented by the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) and Month of Photography Asia (MOPAsia). The theme for this year's Month of Photography Asia festival is the relationship between images and memory.
The exhibition is at NAFA Galleries 1 & 2, from this week until 21 August 2011. Admission is free.