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Louisa Violet
Photograph: Louisa Violet

Artist spotlight: Louisa Violet’s self-portraits are a reflection of the eccentric times we're living in

The local photographer's works evoke the themes of insomnia and isolation, perfectly captured in black and white

Dewi Nurjuwita

Isolation is a common theme this year, with many around the world being forced to sit with themselves and recognise the feelings that come to the surface. Many artists, poets and photographers have sought inspiration from the weird times we're living in, weaving them into their works. Among those is local photographer Louisa Violet, who like many others in Singapore's creative industry, struggled with the cancellation of jobs over the past few months. And so she dived into her passion project, where she translates the topic of 'isolation' into her self-portraits, something she's delved in for years.

“My work centres around the themes of insomnia and isolation. I'm sure everyone's experienced the feeling of lying in bed and being unable to sleep. It’s a very isolating feeling and I wanted to express those emotions," she shares. "I feel that self-portraiture is a really great way to explore myself as an individual and to really understand what I’m going through. That’s the reason why I decided to start this series." 

Her latest series, Disquiet, was shot in various spots in Singapore over a one-year period. Naturally, some were taken right after our 'circuit breaker', where the city-state was slowly blooming back to life. From scenes at home to abandoned reservoirs and eclectic-looking staircases, Louisa cleverly uses each location as a backdrop for her black-and-white self portraits. 

“This series was a way for me to really understand my emotions," she opens up. “I feel like I really connect to black and white. There's so much going on in colour. But when photos are in black and white, you're forced to look at the details of the photo. It brings forth a certain mood that colour distracts you from." 

After going through the ebb and flow of this year and turning her setbacks into art, things seem to be looking up for the young photographer. Louise has been chosen as one of the winners of this year's Young Talent Programme, an annual programme which provides a platform for talented young artists to be spotted by galleries and art institutions. She joins two other local artists – Daisy Toh and Nuridah Rostam – to showcase her series at ION Art as part of the programme.

Her favourite photograph, if she had to choose? One taken at an abandoned reservoir.

"I found this structure really interesting and thought there was no way to get across to it. I composed the shot and thought it was really beautiful, and I loved the added challenge getting there," she shares. "It evoked a strange, dystopian feeling. It felt really reflective of the times we’re living in. Uncertain, strange, with everyone wearing masks. It’s an isolating structure." 

More artist interviews: 
Daisy Toh's creations are inspired by nature's hues
Aisha Rosli shares her struggles as a young fine artist in Singapore
Interview with Lim Tze Peng, Singapore's oldest living artist

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