It is so fascinating to see people who showcase sheer brilliance with different forms of art. Be it music, dance, writing or photography, each artform is a powerful tool to either express yourself or simply explore society and more specifically, its people.
Meet Suraj Nongmaithem from Manipur, who is working as a design consultant in Singapore. He reached out to R&L, and we were more than happy to know more about him. His work takes inspiration from a mix of cultures – and at the same time, aspires to find a common thread that runs across each one of us – irrespective of where we come from.
- Hi Suraj, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m originally from Manipur, but I’ve lived all across India, thanks to my dad who’s with the Indian Armed Force. I am currently working as a design consultant for a company in Singapore. I plan to do my masters in photography from a fine arts college in Europe (currently awaiting an acceptance letter). I have also freelanced for Rolling Stones India.
- How did you end up working in Singapore, and how different or similar is their culture from that of others you have known?
I have a thing for travel. I think it comes from the fact that I have never lived in a particular city for more than three years. So, when I got the opportunity to work in Singapore, I grabbed it with both hands. I think it was a pretty good decision, considering it allows me travel to neighbouring countries like Thailand and Indonesia. Singapore is a beautiful country and I find people out here, really humble and polite. Living as a foreigner has its own perks.
Singapore being a hotpot of cultures from around the world, you get to meet people from so many countries and be friends with them. That’s the best part, and it gives me plenty of inspirations for my work. It is also interesting to know that the more people you meet, the more you realise that we are all the same. Coming from a small town in Manipur, I never felt like a foreigner. I have met so many people, who can instantly connect with my stories and vice versa.
- Enlighten us a bit about life in Manipur
To be honest, I have never really stayed in Manipur for more than a month – at once. But let me tell you, just like the natural landscape of the town – so bold, natural and unpretentious, people there are an interesting mix of traditions and an open mindedness to adopt the craziest of trends. It’s amusing to watch the strong influence of Korean pop culture on the local youths, and at the same time – share a tight bond with their own community people.
- So what are you working on? Share some insights about your photography.
Photography is special. For me, it’s a great way to tell stories about things/subjects that are important to me. I am currently working on an ‘Androgyny Series’ which I started as a way to understand myself , and to connect with like-minded people, that I often photograph as my subjects. Through my work, I want to show that we are one and the same – as a human race and it’s beautiful to be able to connect through our similarities – rather than focussing on our differences. At the end of the day, all I want is to be able to share cultural stories (mainly focussing on people) through my work.
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