Taeri Kim, Shaun Gozali, Danielle Gozali and Christopher Gozali with Silvana Sutanto’s photo of zebras crossing a river in Maasai Mara, Kenya
Silvana Sutanto had travelled to Kenya to photograph lions and cheetahs, Alaska to capture polar bears on her camera, and Japan to snap snow monkeys warming up in a hot spring in winter, staking out spots for hours at a time. In 2011, her pictures won a gold medal at the Royal Photographic Society Gold Medal Exhibitors’ Association International and the Image of the Year Honor Award by the Photography Society of America.
But the late Singapore-based businesswoman had never held a solo exhibition of her wildlife photography. More than a year after she passed away in a fire in Alaska, Sutanto’s photographs have been curated for a posthumous display organised by her three children in aid of the Silvana S. Foundation they established in her name.
The “Wild and Free Wildlife Photography Exhibition — A Tribute to Silvana Sutanto” comprises a selection of 15 works on show and for sale at the Visual Arts Centre, with the net profits going towards the Noah’s Ark Natural Animal Shelter.
We speak to Shaun Gozali, one of Sutanto’s sons, on what the exhibition means to her memory.
What was the process for selecting the photos for the exhibition like? What is it about these 15 photos that got them selected?
We first decided that the theme should be “Wild & Free” to introduce her as a person to the world. The next step was to find pictures that best matched the theme, and many of her wildlife pictures perfectly matched the theme. All the photos chosen were about wildlife in their natural habitat, undisturbed by the encroachment of mankind and modern society.
Which of the 15 on display is the most ‘Silvana’ or was a particular favourite of hers? Could you tell us more about the context that photo was taken in and why Silvana was partial to it?
The family trip picture was her favourite. She had waited for a few hours for the zebras to gather by the watering hole before composing and taking her shot. It reminded her of her own family and extended family when we went on family trips.
What does it mean to you and your siblings to hold this tribute exhibition now? In spite of the recognition Silvana received for her photography, why didn’t she feel she was good enough to hold an exhibition, and what did she feel she was still lacking?
We feel that this is the right time to introduce her and her work to the world, so that her legacy and memory lives on with her family and loved ones. She was always a shy person, and strove to be a better photographer every day, hence she always felt that she was not good enough to hold an exhibition.
Could you describe how Silvana first got into photography? What was it about nature and wildlife that spoke to her? For the photography trips she took, what were some of her favourite locations, species and moments, and why?
She was a casual photographer from 2002 to 2006, and started to learn photography seriously in 2006 when she joined the Photographic Society of Singapore.
She always felt that her wildlife subjects spoke to her directly through their expressions, as if to tell their story of family bonding, love, and friendship.
She always favoured places such as Alaska and Kenya, where she was surrounded by beautiful landscapes and wildlife. Her trip to Maasai Mara was one of her favourites, as she encountered many species of wildlife running wild and free there.
Could you share more on the upcoming projects at Silvana S Foundation and their beneficiaries?
We plan to hold more photo exhibitions in the future that will benefit both children and wildlife charities.
“Wild and Free Wildlife Photography Exhibition — A Tribute to Silvana Sutanto”
Until August 6, 11am–8pm daily
#01-02 Dhoby Ghaut Green; 10 Penang Road