POVERTY ‧ Masters

WYNG Masters Award 2012 – Poverty FINALISTS ANNOUNCED. 2013 WYNG Masters Award Theme Revealed

(Hong Kong, 28th December, 2012) Over the last decade, Hong Kong’s rapidly widening wealth gap has resulted in an economically unbalanced and socially unequal city. The high level of economic disparity outstrips that of other eminent world cities. Amidst great affluence, 18.1% of Hong Kong’s population lives at subsistence levels. Failure of policy leaves many struggling to achieve a living wage and to maintain their dignity.

The WYNG MASTERS AWARD (WMA) for Photography is a non-profit project initiated to spark public awareness and to support interest in socially relevant issues of great importance to Hong Kong and its people. WMA’s mission is to stimulate discussion and to encourage the development of social responsibility in Hong Kong by employing the medium of PHOTOGRAPHY to explore these subjects. WMA’s theme for 2012 is Poverty.

The WYNG Masters Award 2012 announces its inaugural list of finalists. The recipient of the award will receive a cash prize of HK$250,000 and will be chosen from amongst the seven finalists whose work will be exhibited at Artistree (Hong Kong) in March 2013. A second finalist will be selected for the WYNG Poverty Project commission to create a photographic body of work highlighting a theme or subject related to poverty in Hong Kong. A grant of HK$250,000 is awarded for this project. The recipient of the award will be announced at the official opening of the WYNG Masters Award finalists’ exhibition.

In addition to announcing the finalists for 2012, the WYNG Masters Award reveals the theme for 2013, the second cycle of the award. The subject is AIR.


Katherine Chan Sim-Kuen – Cleaner’s Life


Katherine Chan, a graduate of City University’s Media Design and Technology Master of Fine Arts grew up in a poor family, and had a first-hand experience on how life is without money. Things that are extra or left by other people were treated as treasures. As she grew up, she developed an appreciation for the patience of cleaners, their job is regarded as lowly but is very important. In this series, she wanted to understand more about the working poor’s job in their office or rest areas, to record the truth about this group of people who are ignored but worthy of respect, so that viewers will think about giving and receiving, and reflect on treasuring what we have, respect and equality.


Michael Chan – Elite


‘Poverty’ as a social phenomenon and issue is hard to be summarized by a few photos. In this age of knowledge economy, good education is the key to helping our next generation ‘move upward’ and escape from poverty. According to Michael Chan, to fundamentally solve the problem of poverty in Hong Kong, the government must focus on reforming the existing education system. Hence, this series will focus on reflecting today’s educational problems.


Chan Wai Kwong – Record


Documenting is fundamental for a photographer and for Chan Wai Kwong, he is documenting things around him, and he leaves the meaning of the photos, their content or codes, up to viewers’ to interpret.


Stefen Chow – The Poverty Line – Hong Kong


Stefen’s work is not an emotional statement. It is an examination of the choices one would face living at the poverty line. He worked with an economist, Lin Hui-Yi to ensure factual and statistical consistency. They have since documented this project in 16 countries and cities across six continents, including Hong Kong. They are not trying to compare different countries’ poverty, but rather to have a starting point to understand poverty within a country’s context. For developed countries, where there is relatively updated household consumption data, they focus on the average daily amount that a person at the poverty line would spend on food. One frame. One person. One day.


Ko Chung Ming – ‘Cents’ Mansion


In his series of photos, Ko Chung Ming documented the fact that some families’ household income is less than $8,000, but they have to spend more than half of their income on rent. Not only do they have to save on expenses, they have to face all kinds of threats: fire hazard caused by too many electricity meters in subdivided units, rear staircases obstructed by storage or garbage – making it difficult for them to escape in the event of fire, poor hygiene conditions, and pests. People who live in ‘coffin rooms’ and cage homes do not have much hope for relocation. They often witness neighbors dying in coffin rooms and seem to have accepted that it will be their destiny as well.


Wei Leng Tay – North Point

North Point is a neighbourhood that has changed many times in the last few decades. North Point, like many other Hong Kong working class districts, is seeing quick gentrification with the building of luxury apartments and new stores amid the decades-old buildings and traditional shops. With this project, Wei Leng Tay is trying to see what happens beneath the surface, behind closed doors, when we stop and take a breather. How we handle living in a city that in the last decade has become increasingly expensive and difficult for many. Over the years, the project has seen people move as their homes have made way for new developments, new residents considered foreigners now living side by side with ‘locals’. This project North Point continues to look at how we live, and the ties we have in the neighbourhood to each other as we continue to deal with the increasing costs and price of living in Hong Kong.


Rufina Wu and Stefan Canham – Portraits from Above


In Portraits from Above, Rufina Wu and Stefan Canham utilize the tools of an architect and the tools of a photographer to document rooftop communities on five buildings located in older districts in the Kowloon Peninsula, slated for redevelopment by the Urban Renewal Authority of Hong Kong. Text records of the residents’ stories, measured drawings of each distinct rooftop structure, and high-resolution images of the domestic interiors of more than twenty households offer an unprecedented insight into the everyday life on Hong Kong’s rooftops.