The colour red usually heralds luck and auspicious significance, especially within the Chinese community.

However, in certain cases, red seems to be the harbinger of bad news. Red Note is a photo series by Wilfred Lim which depicts exactly that. Taken in Pengerang (in the southeastern part of Johor), the series feature houses which have been affected by the land reclamation scheme from the upcoming Refinery And Petrochemicals Integrated Development (RAPID) project.

Houses marked for demolition are issued an official notice by the government in the form of a red note which is glued to the wall of each house. Wilfred photographed about 40 of these houses and most were occupied. They were to be demolished by the end of 2013.

A student of the School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University, Wilfred’s style of photography varies. 2020, another photo series by Wilfred depicts an array of seemingly mutated sea creatures as a result of environmental pollution. It is evocative of the approach many young, contemporary photographers such as Kyle Thompson and Alex Stoddard take on these days, where photo manipulations enhance the impact and context of the image.

“I want my works to be engaging and allow viewers to escape from reality and indulge in my imaginative world,” says Wilfred. He also wants people viewing his photos to take away a sense of curiosity or even nostalgia. “I believe that there is a child living deep inside everyone’s heart.”

Although he is currently pursuing his studies and career across the causeway, Wilfred’s deep attachment to Pengerang remains. “I grew up a kampung boy. I spent 18 years living in Pengerang before pursuing my career in Singapore. To me, Pengerang is a place where I feel deeply connected with,”

“The warmth among the people is hard to come by in the city I live in now. The demolition of cultural heritage and houses to me is a seriously destructive act not only to the villagers, but the environment as well. As an artist, I am trying my best to bring this issue to light through art making.”

Wilfred is evidently worried about the continuous destruction of his beloved hometown and the negative impact development has towards the environment. “Fishermen are forced to retire due to the construction of oil refinery. The inadequate amount of compensation, in the long run, will affect the life of villagers after relocation.”

So, he does the one thing he knows best. With the camera as his tool, he will continue showing different sides of the destruction happening in Pengerang. His next project will focus on the effects of relocation in the community as well as the dependency and connection between humans and their living spaces.

Lyn Ong

Red Note 1
Red Note 2
Red Note 3
Red Note 4
Bubble Bath, Self-Portraits
Lobster, Self-Portraits
Sepia Pelagicus, 2020
Octopodidae Bipunctatus, 2020
New House

Photos courtesy of Wilfred Lim. Find out more about Wilfred’s photos here. We first came across Wilfred’s series Red Note on The New Forward.