The Orang's Last Stand
(b. Vietnam, 1972)
Richard Streitmatter-Tran’s work addresses the diminishing natural habitat of orangutans, as human development nudges this endangered species closer to extinction. Without the trees of their natural environment, they are perched upon stands – holding out against imminent disaster below. Subject to outdoor elements, the sculpted heads serve as a cavity that living animals can inhabit over time. Orang in Malay translates to ‘people’, while hutan means ‘forest’. The discussion of orangs can thus extend to include the Orang Seletar – an indigenous seafaring people whose livelihoods are similarly endangered, with their traditional ways threatened by contemporary demands. This work follows on from Richard’s use of inanimate materials from Southeast Asia during his 2017 residency at the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore. His previous exhibitions include Prophilia at SPRMRKT in Singapore (2018); Departures at the de Sarthe Gallery in Hong Kong (2017) and The Decoy of Indra at Art Stage Singapore (2017).