A View from Inside
The romantic notion of home paints it as a nurturing, safe place; a haven or refuge from tensions that disturb the outside world. It is a space of comfort and belonging, of warmth and affection. It is where one feels at ease the most, and as the old cliché goes, a place like no other.
In this exhibition, Yeo Kaa unsettles the sense of security and content felt at home through an outward gaze that exposes the perils and menaces hidden or distant from one’s comfortable abode. The phrase “from the comfort of my own home” draws irony from the stark contrast between inside and outside conditions, with the outside as the site of danger and harsh realities of life. Central to this opposition is the attempt to confront the vantage point of a privileged existence—being sheltered or immune from the difficulties and suffering of others by virtue of one’s social position. The home here refers not only to the immediate household, but extends to larger communities—from posh apartment buildings to gated, self-contained residential zones—which similarly detach society’s privileged few from the experiences of the common people. Recent events, such as the ongoing pandemic and the string of calamities that besieged the artist’s native Philippines, have rendered the disparity between the lives of the rich and the poor more pronounced. The works interrogate this gap and the former’s filtered encounter of the latter’s struggles.
The disjuncture among lived realities shaped by social inequality is conveyed in the glass enclosures that blur the depicted imagery in each work. On a remote control’s cue, clear images of natural calamities like floods and forest fires, pollution and environmental decay, are revealed, shifting the audience back and forth between the shielded view of privilege and the more vivid and gripping accounts of difficult life out there. Like the white overlay that covers the scenes of tragedies and devastations behind it, privilege may sanitise one’s picture of reality and disengage us from the plight of society’s margins. These pieces remind us to constantly assess the lenses through which we access the wider world, and to look beyond our positionalities that may conceal truths outside the convenience of our social spheres.