Septian (Man of the Forest Series) (2012)
This series is part of a campaign in partnership with the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP). The three remaining coastal peat swamp forests of Aceh, Indonesia, namely Tripa, Kluet and Singkil, are among the most precious natural habitats in the world. They harbour the highest orangutan densities in the world and about 30% of the remaining 6,600 Critically Endangered Sumatran orangutans.
Ernest Goh is an artist and photographer based in Singapore. His current fine art photography work on the natural world is inspired by his childhood spent wading in the streams of his grandmother's rural village looking for fishes. He has also worked closely with non-profit organizations in documenting important events in Asia, including Altered Land on the aftermath and recovery from the 2004 Tsunami in Aceh, for which the series was awarded the 2012 ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu Discernment Award in Singapore.
Goh's portraits of animals include those of ornamental fish bred in Singapore, juvenile orangutans in a rescue centre in Sumatra, and chickens bred for beauty pageants in Malaysia. The wave of a wing or fin, the flick of a tail and the cock of a head are captured by Goh, evoking human-like characteristics that a casual observer would not be able to immediately see. Indeed, the temperament and attitudes of the animals exude from the portraits, particularly in their facial expressions, pushing the boundaries established by humans in differentiating themselves from the animal world. Through the photographer's lens, we see characters that are familiar in faces that are unexpected.