Photography Cinema

Alecia Neo: ramah-tamah

Image Maker
Alecia Neo
Alecia NEO develops long-term projects that involve collaborative partnerships with individuals, communities and networks. Her socially engaged practice unfolds primarily through photography, video, and participatory workshops that address modes of radical hospitality, reciprocity, caregiving, and wellbeing to explore issues of identity and the search for self. Her recent projects include Care Index, an experimental platform that collects and features diverse practices of care performed by people from all walks of life. Care Index was initiated in December 2020 as part of the larger artistic research project on care practices, building on a previous collaborative project Between Earth and Sky, which was developed with a group of caregivers in Singapore. She is the co-founder of Brack, a platform for socially engaged art, and Ubah Rumah Residency in Bintan. Alecia was the recipient of the Young Artist Award in 2016.
Place of Origin
In Malay and English with English and Chinese subtitles


Tracing the evolution of regional hospitality rituals performed by women and centred around the better leaf, ramah-tamah explores how the ancient act of chewing on a betel quid reverberates through our past, present, and future. Rites and symbols associated with betel leaf practices across South and Southeast Asia are evoked by two performers who engage in an unspoken dialogue of bodily correspondences, hand gestures, encounters and partings. The voice-over weaves together pantuns, written and recited by octogenarian Peranakan Baba GT Lye, and women’s stories that speak of rites of passage, acts of kinship, and the labour of caregiving. Pulsing with different tempos, ramah-tamah enacts a cross-generational dialogue about legacy and ageing, autonomy and women’s never-ending quest for aliveness.

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