Finding Harmony Between the Pyres of Varanasi and Singapore

Samsara is Alvin Ng´s personal perspective on the relationship between humans and our environment. By reworking his images, he creates a mystical scenario that explores the balance of the world and draws from concepts from Buddism and the ancient Chinese book of wisdom the I Ching.

Samsara is a visual reflection of my relationship with the balance of the world and its natural elements. First started in 2018 on a trip to the pyres of Varanasi, the work began in earnest in Singapore in 2020 at the time of the pandemic, where the world we once knew changed forever, casting us into the dark ocean of uncertainty and loss. Overwhelmed by the chaos of the world and the endings of connections once thought permanent, I turned inwards to question myself and the relationship I have with my surroundings as a means of escape and reflection.

Aided by the teachings of the Buddhist doctrines Anitya (Impermanence), Samsara (Cycle of life), and the ancient Chinese book of wisdom known as the I Ching, I began to comprehend the rhythmic cycle of all life and its harmonious connection with each other. As I immersed myself into my surroundings, releasing all attachments and existing simply as a living element in sync with all other living elements, I discovered a sense of tranquillity and realms of mystical mysteries. 

This impermanent state in which all elements merge and dissolve, birth and eventual death, creates a balance, an equilibrium cycle for all living things in our present world. Drifting away to the currents of the 'Flow', I follow its uncharted course, embracing the various forms of beginnings and endings, listening to the messages they whisper, and deciphering their meanings.

Words and Pictures by Alvin Ng

Alvin Ng is a Southeast Asian photographer living in Singapore whose work focuses on humanity's quest for spirituality, empathy, compassion, and the exploration of identities. Follow him on Instagram and PhMuseum 


This feature is part of Story of the Week, a selection of relevant projects from our community handpicked by the PhMuseum curators.

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