© 2017 Peter C Chen, Peter Victor King & Grey Margins. All Rights Reserved.

Caught the Westbound

2011-2012

1/6

When I first thought to hobo'in, hobo'in

I took a freight train to be my friend, oh Lord

You know I hobo'd, hobo'd, hobo'd, hobo'd

Hobo'd a long, long way from home, oh Lord

 

 - John Lee Hooker

 

This series catalogs the last days of the Keretapi Tanah Melayu railway in Singapore. The local rail line had been in operation for 79 years and had always served as a reminder of Singapore’s humbler beginnings and generational links to Malaysia.

 

Few things in this country can be said to still operate on a day to day basis after 70 years. Against this historical backdrop, the intention was to capture the patina of routine and finality that had become to represent KTM in Singapore up to the point of its closure. The idea was to explore whether distinct and iconic rail objects and textures could be used to embody a tradition that was approaching its end; a fetishistic nostalgia that is attempting to corroborate its worth in a world where antiquated technology is considered expensive and eccentric.

 

The stretch of rail corridor remained a constant uneasiness between the two governments after Singapore became an independent nation in 1965. An agreement was reached in 2010 to have the 26km stretch of land transferred over to Singapore and dismantling of the rail began immediately following cessation of rail operations on 1 July 2011.