Katherine Chan Sim-Kuen - Cleaner’s Life
Katherine Chan Sim-Kuen received her Diploma in Design – Visual Communication at the Lee Wai Lee Technical Institute in 1995. She then graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Photographic Design from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in 1998 and with a Master of Fine Arts in Media Design and Technology from the City University of Hong Kong in 2007. Katherine’s works have been showcased in the United Kingdom, Japan, China and Hong Kong, and she has participated in several exhibitions and screenings, including “APO – 12 Oil Street: Casting I Online Exhibition & ART HK12” (2012), “Young Portfolio – Photographs by the Next Generation” Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts in Japan (2003), “The Royal Photographic Society’s 146th International Print Exhibition” (2003-04), the public screening of the “19 Lives through 19 Eyes” documentaries (2004) and “The 2nd BBU International Student Film, Television & New Media Works Exhibition” Award Screening (2004). She has received the Silver Award at the Hong Kong Institute of Professional Photographers (HKIPP) Awards in 1999 and the Bronze Award in 2001. The Silver Medal given by the Royal Photographic Society in Britain (2003) and the Outstanding Documentary Award at the Second BBU – International Student Film, Television & New Media Works Exhibition in Beijing, China (2004). Katherine’s works are collected by the Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts in Japan, the Hong Kong Heritage Museum and several private collectors.
Considering the subject of poverty, I grew up in a poor family and therefore I have first-hand experience on how life is without money. Articles or objects that were considered extras, or that were left behind by other people, were treated as treasure by us. As I grew up, I developed an appreciation for the patience of cleaners. Their job is regarded by society as lowly, but it is a very, very important job. If it not were for those unsung heroes, it would be difficult to imagine what Hong Kong would be like. In my project, I want to understand more about the working poor’s jobs through their office spaces and in their rest areas in order to record the truth about their treatment. To illustrate how they are ignored by society, but worthy of respect. So that viewers will think about issues of giving and receiving, and reflect on treasuring what we have – respect and equality.