Month of Photography Asia

Month of Photography Asia
Month of Photography Asia
MOP Asia logo medium.jpg
Generic logo since 2009
Logo of MOPAsia 2011

Month of Photography Asia (also known as MOPA and MOPAsia) is an international festival of photography organised in Singapore since 2002.

The festival serves as a platform to promote photography both as an art form and as a creative industry. Each year, Month of Photography Asia is curated along a specific theme and presents works by the best of international and Singaporean photographers in relation to the year’s theme. The theme for 2011 was Memory.

Over the years, the festival has become the annual photography event in Singapore to discover exciting new images, impactful photographs, as well as classic images that have become part of the history of photography. It has also become a known platform for the discovery of emerging Singaporean or Singapore-based photographers through its Out of Focus group shows, as well as for the recognition of established photographers from Singapore with a prominent body of works through the ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu photography award. The festival's main line-up of exhibitions is complemented by both public programmes (which include round tables, master classes, talks, portfolio reviews, screenings, tours and workshops) and in conjunction events.



Logo of MOPAsia 2010
Logo of MOPAsia 2009

The festival was first established in 2002 as the Month of Photography in Singapore, on a joint initiative by the Alliance Française de Singapour and the National Arts Council. It was inaugurated in presence of Jean-Luc Monterosso, director of the European House of Photography (Maison Européenne de la Photographie, a.k.a. MEP. Phish Communications was brought in by the Alliance Française to manage the 2003 edition of the festival, called "A Journey towards month of Photography 2004", as it was intended as a bridge to the larger festival edition planned for the next year. Phish Communications managed it again in 2004, before becoming the full-fledged festival organiser in 2006. In 2007, the festival took the name of Month of Photography Asia (known as MOPA or MOPAsia), thus acknowledging its role as a regional platform in Asia.

Curatorial theme

From 2004 onwards, a curatorial theme was introduced to provide the backbone of each edition of the festival:

  • 2004: Popular Pleasures through Photography
  • 2006: Le Regard Documentaire
  • 2007: Wanderings
  • 2008: Still/Moving: Photography & Cinema [1]
  • 2009: Engaging Asia [2][3]
  • 2010: Praxis
  • 2011: Memory

Out of Focus

In 2006, the festival started a series of group shows called Out of Focus dedicated to emerging Singaporean or Singapore-based photographers who have not had a solo show yet. The first edition of Out of Focus was curated by established Singaporean photographer Tay Kay Chin. Subsequent editions in 2007, 2008 and 2009 were curated by Objectifs: Centre for Photography and Filmmaking, which became one of MOPAsia's most regular partners.

Residency programme

In 2008, the festival initiated an artist residency programme in partnership with Lasalle College of the Arts, with the support of the French Embassy. Alain Fleischer was the first photograph in residency in 2008, followed by Françoise Huguier in 2009.


In 2009, the festival included a new component to its line-up of exhibitions: InsideOut, a project that aims to allow the audience to see Singapore through the eyes of migrant workers to foster mutual understanding. First launched in 2006 in conjunction with the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival, the project was revived again in the 2009 edition of MOPAsia as InsideOut II [4] and continued with its third installment in 2010 as InsideOut III.[5] Volunteer photographers guided migrant workers on using photography to document their daily lives, meeting once a week over three months for lessons and guided field shoots. Armed with basic digital cameras, the participating migrant workers embraced the opportunity to show a slice of their lives and Singapore from their perspective. Such images created a platform for creative dialogue in order to humanize the perception of migrant workers in Singapore.

ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu photography award

In 2010, the festival included as part of its programme the newly created ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu photography award. This juried prize established by Martell Cordon Bleu in conjunction with the Month of Photography Asia is aimed at recognizing the most outstanding photographer in Singapore who has shown originality of vision, presented thought-provoking ideas, explored new concepts and demonstrated a commitment to his/her art through the use of the photographic medium. It honours the totality of the artist’s body of work and his or her art practice. A total of thirteen photographers were nominated at the first stage of the competition. From among the thirteen, three have been selected by the award’s international jury to proceed to the final stage. The three photographers were Francis Ng, Jing Quek and Sherman Ong. All three photographers had solo exhibitions of their selected works held at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Lasalle College of the Arts. On 17 June 2010, a jury of local and international judges (including Martin Parr and Agnès de Gouvion Saint-Cyr) convened to determine the winner ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu award. Sherman Ong was announced the winner of the inaugural ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu at the opening of the exhibitions on 17 June. The award consisted of a cash prize of $30,000 as well as an art book of the artist’s works to be published within the year of winning the award.[6][7][8] In 2011, the profile exhibition was held at Millenia Walk and presented a selection of eight photographers nominated at the first stage of the competition. Out of these contenders, three photographers (Sean Lee, Zhao Renhui and John Clang) were selected to the final stage of the competition, ending with the prize to be awarded to Sean Lee on 1 July 2011, as part of the festival.

Facts and figures

Logo of MOPAsia 2007 & 2008


  • Shirlene Noordin, director from 2006 to 2010
  • Shirlene Noordin and Raphaël Millet, co-directors in 2011

International guests

The festival has consistently hosted international guests from all over the world, either for an exhibition, a talk or a residency:

Involvement of Singapore-based industry professionals

The festival has seen the involvement of Singaporean and Singapore-based photographers and industry professionals like:

  • Tay Kay Chin
  • Gilles Massot
  • Emmeline Yong
  • Ernest Goh
  • Tan Ngiap Heng
  • Kheng-li Wee
  • Bryan van der Beek

List of photographers exhibited

Solo shows

Group shows

  • William Klein, Helmut Newton, Frank Horvat, as part of the Fashion Photography exhibition in 2002.
  • Edouard Boubat, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Willy Ronis, Robert Doisneau, Bey Hua Heng, Foo Tee Jun, Goh Peng Seng, Eric Goh Wee Seng, Lee Tiah Khee, Tan Lip Seng, as part of the Humanist Photography exhibition in 2002.
  • Denis Roche, Mary-Ann Teo as part of the Photography and Literature exhibition in 2002.
  • Alejandra Figueroa, Martial Cherrier, Koos Breukel, Anne Favret, Patrick Manez, Gilbert Garcin, Pepijn Provily, Liza Ryan, Mark Segal, Eulalia Vallderosa, Céline Van Balen, as part of the Donation Foundation NSM-Vie exhibition in 2002
  • Candice Koh, Tan Ngiap Heng, Tay Kay Chin, Wee Kheng-Li, Terence Yeung, as part of the Young Singaporean Photographers exhibition in 2002.
  • Ken Seet, Gilles Massot, Jean-Christophe Ballot, Sha Ying, as part of Facets exhibition in 2002.
  • Ernest Goh, Ming, Terence Yeung, Ken Seet, Wee Kheng-Li, Mable Lee, as part the collective Mini MOP exhibition in 2003.
  • Ernest Goh, Ming, Sherman Ong, Tay Kay Chin, Chua Chye Teck, Wee Kheng-Li, Lim Kok Boon, Gilles Massot, Franck Pinckers, Tan Ngiap Heng, Terence Yeung, as part of the Singapore Pop Shots exhibition in 2004.
  • Orlan, Denis Darzacq, Natacha Lesueur, Pascal Monteil, Bettina Rheims, Jean-Paul Goude, Pierre & Gilles as part of the Pop Culture exhibition in 2004.
  • André Kertész, Willy Ronis, Gabriel Loppé, Keiichi Tahara, Jean-Luc Moulène, Edouard Boubat, Philippe Grunchec, Claude Dityvon, Jean-Christophe Ballot, Brassaï, Jean-Claude Gautrand, Marc Riboud, Holger Trulzsch, Thérèse Bonney, Lucien Hervé, Mimmo Jodice, Michael Kenna, Jean-Paul Charbonnier, Godefroy Ménanteau, Frank Horvat, Henri Manuel, Paul Géniaux, Jan Auvigne, Jean-Jacques Salvadot, René-Jacques, Marin Kasimir, Martine Franck, Jahan, Eugène Atget, Jürgen Nefzger, William Klein, Izis, Michel Séméniako, Ruth Mayerson-Gilbert, Bogdan Konopka, Suzanne Doppelt, Jean-Loup Sieff, Marie-Paule Nègre, as part of the Objectif Paris exhibition in 2007
  • Robert Capa, René Burri, Werner Bischof, Eve Arnold, Philippe Halsman, Dennis Stock, Bruce Davidson, Elliott Erwitt, Burt Glinn, David Hum, Erich Lessing, Inge Morath, Bruno Barbey, Nicolas Tikhomiroff, Herbert List, Ferdinando Scianna, Guy Le Querrec, Constantine Manos, Erich Hartmann, David Seymour, W. Eugene Smith, John Vink, Harry Gruyaert as part of the Magnum Cinema exhibition in 2008
  • Bertrand Meunier, Jiang Jian, Xing Danwen, Johann Rousselot, Samuel Bollendorff, Thierry Girard, Muchen & Shao Yinong as part of the Changing Asia exhibition in 2009
  • Sean Lee, Zhao Renhui, John Clang as part of the finalist exhibition of the 2nd ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu photography award in 2011
  • Robert Capa, Larry Burrows, Jean Péraud, Henri Huet, Huynh Tanh My, Gilles Caron, Terry Khoo, Sam Kai Faye, Sean Flynn, Dana Stone, Dickey Chapelle, etc., as part of the "Requiem" exhibition in 2011

The Out of Focus exhibition series, created in 2006, has helped put the limelight on emerging Singaporean or Singapore-based photographers:

  • Terence Tay, Julia Nah, Joe Nair, Soyun Lee, Teo Chee Sern, in 2006
  • Matthew Teo, Sha Ying in 2007
  • Geoffrey Pakiam, Gozde Zehnder, Ng Sze Kiat, Chen Shi Han in 2008
  • Then Chih Wey, Dyn, Jean Loo in 2009


The festival has worked in close collaboration with the European House of Photography (Maison Européenne de la Photographie, a.k.a. MEP) in its first year, and subsequently developed partnership with leading photo agencies like Magnum Photos and Rapho, as well as with the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation and the National Foundation for Contemporary Art (Fonds national d'art contemporain, a.k.a. FNAC) in Paris, anf the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. It has also worked locally with the National Arts Council (Singapore) (NAC), the Singapore Arts Festival, the Lasalle College of the Arts, Objectifs: Centre for Photography and Filmmaking, Migrant Voices, as well as the Cathay Organisation (with its Cathay Gallery). It also partners regularly with high commissions and embassies such as the United States of America Embassy, the British High Commission and the French Embassy in Singapore.[24][25][26][27]


The festival has partnered with the following venues reaching out to a variety of audiences:

  • Alliance Française Gallery in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
  • Atrium at MICA building in 2002
  • Art Seasons in 2002
  • Plastic Kinetic Worms in 2002
  • Plum Blossoms Gallery in 2002
  • Loke Wan Tho Gallery in 2002
  • The Substation in 2002, 2004
  • Singapore Art Museum, in 2002, 2004 and 2008
  • The Arts House at Old Parliament, in 2004, 2006, 2011
  • City Room at Basheer in 2006
  • City Hall in 2007
  • Post Museum in 2008
  • The Cathay Gallery (Cathay Organisation) in 2008, 2009
  • Night & Day Gallery in 2008
  • SMU Gallery in 2009
  • Asian Civilisations Museum in 2009, 2010
  • Lasalle College of the Arts in 2009,[28] 2010
  • Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts Gallery in 2010, 2011
  • ION Art in 2011
  • Artspace@Helustrans in 2011
  • shots café in 2011


Number of exhibitions

Between 2002 and 2011, the festival has held 47 main exhibitions, including 9 at the Alliance Française Gallery, 3 at the Singapore Art Museum, 3 at the Arts House, 2 at the Asian Civilisations Museum, 6 at Lasalle College of the Arts, 2 at the Cathay Gallery, 2 at the NAFA Gallery, 1 at the SMU Gallery.

Number of photographers exhibited

Between 2002 and 2010, the festival has exhibited the works of a total of 174 different photographers, from Singapore, Southeast Asia and the rest of the world, either in solo or in group shows.


  • 12,000 visitors in 2002
  • 35,000 visitors in 2004
  • 36,800 visitors in 2006
  • 40,900 visitors in 2007
  • 44,400 visitors in 2008
  • 45,500 visitors in 2009
  • 47,200 visitors in 2010

External links


  1. ^ Online article by Iola Lenzi about MOPAsia 2008 in TimeOut Singapore
  2. ^ Online article about MOPAsia 2009 in TimeOut Singapore
  3. ^ Online review about MOPAsia 2009 on Blankanvas
  4. ^ InsideOut II announced on Migrant Voices' website
  5. ^ InsideOut III announced on
  6. ^ Official website of ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu photography award
  7. ^ Icon de Martell Photography Award announced on
  8. ^ News report about ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu photography award on AsiaOne
  9. ^ Article about Pierre et Gilles Beautiful Dragon exhibition on
  10. ^ Steve McCurry's participation in MOPAsia 2009 announced on Channel News Asia's website
  11. ^ Steve McCurry's participation in MOPAsia 2009 announced on
  12. ^ Steve McCurry's master class in MOPAsia 2009 announced on PondMusings blog
  13. ^ Mattias Klum's exhibition on JamCanSing
  14. ^ Mattias Klum's photography seminar at the Asian Civilisations Museum
  15. ^ Mattias Klum's photography seminar at the Asian Civilisations Museum listed on GreenKampong
  16. ^ Mattias Klum's photography seminar at the Asian Civilisations Museum listed on
  17. ^ Mattias Klum's photography seminar at the Asian Civilisations Museum listed on the Photographic Society of Singapore's website
  18. ^ Article about Mattias Klum's exhibition on
  19. ^ Article about Mattias Klum's exhibition on Hardware Zone's blog
  20. ^ Press release about Alain Fleischer's "Time Exposures" exhibition on NHB's website
  21. ^ Presentation of the Marc Riboud exhibition China 1957-2002 on the CNAP's website
  22. ^ Presentation of Mattias Klum's exhibition Testament of Tebaran on
  23. ^ Presentation of Marcel Heijnen's exhibition Residue on
  24. ^ Presentation of Raymond Depardon's Errances exhibition in MOPAsia 2007 Wanderings on the French Embassy in Singapore's website
  25. ^ Presentation of Alain Fleischer's Time Exposures exhibition in MOPAsia 2008 on the French Embassy in Singapore's website
  26. ^ Presentation of Changing Asia exhibition in MOPAsia 2009 on the French Embassy in Singapore's website
  27. ^ Presentation of Bertrand Meunier's Erased video show in MOPAsia 2009 on the French Embassy in Singapore's website
  28. ^ Presentation of MOP Asia 2009 on Lasalle's website

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