Objectifs Documentary Award 2023 Recipients

The Objectifs Documentary Award champions Objectifs’ mission to broaden perspectives through image making, by supporting original voices in visual storytelling in Singapore and the wider region. The Award enables photographers to work on new or existing projects, encouraging them to tell stories about their native communities. It welcomes different creative approaches to non-fiction storytelling, from conventional documentary photography to visual experiments. Projects may be presented in still images or use multimedia.

Successful recipients will be given professional and financial support to work on their projects over a 6 month-long period. The final works are exhibited at Objectifs in 2024.

The awardees were selected by the following panel of 5 jury members:

  • Ng Swan Ti, Managing Director of PannaFoto Institute and Exhibitions Director at Jakarta International Photo Institute. Emerging Category Mentor for 2023
  • Roger Nelson, curator, art historian, and Assistant Professor of Art History in the School of Humanities at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Open Category Curator for 2023.
  • Muhammad Fadli Documentary Photographer and Producer, Emerging Category Mentor for 2022
  • Siddharta Perez Curator, Educator and Organiser, Open Category Curator for 2022
  • Chelsea Chua, Programme Director, Objectifs

OPEN CATEGORY – Choulay Mech 

Choulay Mech is an artist, documentary filmmaker, and freelance journalist living and working in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She is passionate about environmental and animal rights issues and human-interest storytelling. Trained in journalism with the Cambodian Center for Independent Media, her reports have been published in Southeast Asia Globe, Voice of Democracy and CamboJA News, and The Washington Post.

Project description

Choulay’s project investigates the impact that the rapid rate of development has on the forests in Cambodia. The project focuses on the dwindling population of wild elephants, which have a long history in Cambodia and are central to the ecosystem.

Follow Choulay’s work on her website or on Instagram @mechchouly


Phương Nguyên Lê is a Vietnamese photographer studying in Naarm (Melbourne). He focuses on what it is like to be young in this strange world. Constantly dealing with themes of ancestry, ethnicity and sexuality, Phương uses photography to cater to his inner curiosity and reflect on his sense of self. Phương is currently interested in exploring the occupying space between documentary and art photography with projects that concern his surrounding communities.

Project description

Phương’s project about the Vietnamese diaspora in Australia is centred on Sunshine, an inner-city suburb in Melbourne well-known for its vibrant Vietnamese community. The work looks at inter-generational difference, the community’s connection to Vietnam and his own position as a foreigner in Australia.

Follow Phương’s work on his website or on Instagram @phuong.io.


Kaleb Sitompul is a freelancer specialising in film directing and photography in Indonesia with a background in Film Studies and Directing at the Jakarta Institute of Arts and experience under a one-year mentorship at Pannafoto Institute. He is interested in the stories of local people outside Java, and has been focused on exploring stories and issues in North Sumatra through the visual mediums of photography and film since 2021. He has also created an alternative visual (photography and film) community with his colleagues in Medan named Sekelakfoto and kinocolony.

Project description

Kaleb’s project will examine the impact of commercial deforestation on indigenous communities living in the Toba forest region. The project seeks to spark discussion about the importance of preserving the forest for future generations.

Follow Kaleb’s work on his website or on Instagram @kalebsitompul.

The selection panel also gave special mentions to the following individuals:


Ri is a queer photographer based in Myanmar and is a co-founder of Thuma Collective, initiated in 2017 which includes six Myanmar women photographers who are dedicated to visual storytelling.

As a queer visual artist, her stories entrenched upon being part of a community, queerhood and intimate relationships. Asides from this, she works with visual poems, landscapes and stories that have connection to her country’s complex political situations.

Follow her work on instagram at @immortality_of_a_crab


Euginia Tan is a multi-disciplinary writer based in Singapore. She has experience in various creative forms including poetry, prose and theatre. Her third poetry collection, Phedra (Ethos Books) was nominated for the 2018 Singapore Literature Prize. Her play-writing credits include Holidays (under mentorship of Joel Tan), Tuition (Twenty Something Theatre Festival), Modest Travels (produced by Tan Kheng Hua for Uniqlo), Fortunes (The Necessary Stage Playwrights’ Cove), The Rat Trap (Gateway Theatre Artist-In-Residence). The Rat Trap was nominated at the 2022 Straits Times Life! Theatre Awards for Best Actor (Lim Kay Siu).

Hu Qiren (b. 1983) is a visual artist whose practice explores the myriad forms of image making, incorporating a wide range of media, including photography, video, installation and performance. Expressing a vibrant visual vocabulary inspired by his own identity and tradition, Qiren synthesizes cultural binaries, while incessantly challenging notions of authenticity, belief and value systems.

Follow Qiren’s work on his website and on Instagram @renz_n_co.


Geela Garcia (b. 1998) is a Filipino freelance photographer and multimedia journalist based in Manila, Philippines. Her photographic work, which documents stories of women, food sovereignty, and the environment, aims to write history from the experience of its makers.

Follow her work on her website and on Instagram @geelagarcia