A World Within.. - PhMuseum

A World Within..

Alvin Ng

2019 - 2021

Singapore, Singapore

‘A World Within..’ is a series that explores cosplay as a haven, giving life a sense of meaning and empowerment through the freedom of expression and choice, as shared by individuals within the Singapore cosplay community.

Each individual reflects a unique, intimate journey of self-discovery and acceptance, a sense of freedom to explore the wonders of their passion and dreams, away from the judgment of the real world.

Cosplay, or Kosupure in Japanese, is a visual performance art in which participants, also known as cosplayers, are decked out in elaborately designed costumes and props to represent characters from the massive fiction world.

Within the span of their performance, the reality of these cosplayers disappears and is replaced by the unique traits and personalities of the characters they embody, as they become real-life renditions of their chosen characters.

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  • Chris Lee, 38, portraying a character known as Saber from the Anime, 'Fate/Stay Night'.

    "My journey into cosplay has a deeper meaning; it is the way to express freely my choice of crossdressing. Since I was young, my mother has been telling me that I was supposed to be born a girl, and that became embedded in me; I sense that there is another self within and I was curious to explore that. So I wanted to have an outlet where I can dress up freely because, as you know, societal norms and people will give you a weird look on that. In a way, cosplay helps with that, and it’s also a way for me to show my appreciation to the characters that I like."

  • Chris Lee, 38, portraying a character known as Saber from the Anime, 'Fate/Stay Night'.

    "I would say that it’s a good justification to express my love for a female character and be free to explore the traits of the character. You feel comfortable, you like the look and “oh this is how I look like as a female” and when you go to events you’re supposed to bring out the characteristics of the character, so in a way, you have to touch a bit on your feminine side.”

  • Evelyn Goh, 26, portraying a character called Toga Himiko, from the anime, 'My Hero Academia'.

    “I’ve been on the receiving end of sexual comments, recently too! I think this especially why I like cosplay male characters because when you cosplay male characters they won’t come and bother you, but when you cosplay a specific female character, like in my own experiences, I experimented with a female character and I received so many comments like “omg that’s so sexy!/When are you going to do a sexy photoshoot with her/are you do the photoshoot in the bedroom?”

  • Evelyn's stuffed toy collection of her favourite Pokemon Mew tucked away at the corner of her desk.

  • Evelyn's open letter to the world on how cosplay feels like to her.

  • Evelyn Goh, 26, portraying a character called SCP-049 'the Plague Doctor', from the game 'SCP - Containment Breach'.

    "The cosplay world feels different from the real world, even though I try not to see it that way sometimes, but does it feel different. If I’m sitting here talking to you, it’s different from me sitting here in full cosplay with my friends. It feels like it’s a world on its own, a different reality but that is always fun and I like to that because I can be more myself than in reality. Like for an example, if I were to cosplay a villain character and have my friends who are all villains and we sit down and have coffee, it just feels like we’re in our own little story, our own little script and it just feels so good, like yea I belong here.”

  • Phoenix Tan, 26, portraying a character called Sasori from the anime, 'Naruto'.

    “It’s an interesting thing because when you’re cosplaying you’re basically not trying to be yourself, you’re trying to be someone else, to be the character. But I guess everyone in the community found a safe haven for them to be themselves through cosplay."

  • Phoenix Tan, 26, portraying a character called Sasori from the anime, 'Naruto'.

    "When they (cosplayers) are in front of the cameras, they act like the characters. But within their group of friends, they can be their normal self and share their interests and passion without being judged. I think it’s not about finding myself in cosplay but I found a haven there. It’s a way of expressing and heighten that personality that was there before.”

  • Dan, portraying a character called Kurosaki Ranmaru from the anime, 'Uta No Prince Sama.'

    “In my fangirl term, I call it true love; true love that I will find in a 2D world than I would believe in a 3D world. Because to me, true love in a 3D probably does not exist. My love for the character is internal, that no matter where I am, what I do, I may exit from the community but this love will stay forever and if anytime I speak of it or somebody talks of it, I’ll know that smile will always come back to me when I think about that character. To me that’s true love, nothing and nobody will tell me that’s not real.”

  • Dan, portraying a character called Kurosaki Ranmaru from the anime, 'Uta No Prince Sama.'

    “What I personally realised is, this community is made of 99% of people who are incomplete. Whether be it friends, family, themselves. Only 1% of them comes from a good background.”

  • Leon, a cosplayer in his 30s, portraying a character called 'Kamen Rider Decade' from the anime with the same name.

    “Personally I don’t get myself too bothered with pretending to be the character unless there's a photoshoot. It’s fun but if you’re gonna be all out and behave like the character on a normal day, it gives an impression to others that you’re living an imaginary lifestyle not linked to reality."

  • Leon, a cosplayer in his 30s, portraying a character called 'Kamen Rider Decade' from the anime with the same name.

    "To me, cosplay doesn’t change who you are, it’s just donning the costume of the character that you like, bringing it to life, and make good memories with it, that’s what it should be."

  • Seri, portraying a character called A2 from the game, 'NieR: Automata'.

    “I have physiological conditions that I can’t control, and have always wanted to try to find avenues not to fix nor to cure, but to deny their existence for a moment, that’s why I turned cosplay. I would say when I first started, it felt like I had achieved a minor step forward in life, it felt like an achievement."

  • Seri, portraying a character called A2 from the game, 'NieR: Automata'.

    "To be honest I find myself more comfortable in the cosplay world, be it whatever characters I’m playing, I find more comfort there than where I am now, maybe it’s because it takes you out of reality for awhile and you get to relax over there. I feel that it’s so merged with my life and at the same time so divided like it’s merged when I’m portraying the characters however I want, but the divided part is when I’m in the cosplay world, I’m not Seri anymore, and when I’m back in reality I’m me, and not anyone from there.”


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