If history is totally related to the past, there would be no so-called contemporary problem or historical problem. However, many different contexts remain that are still affecting our lives. We cannot ignore historical problems, somehow we have to deal with them head on. People from every generation have their own problems as a result of history. As a “post-80s” man and a son of a stowaway, there is no doubt I identify myself as a Hong Konger. But in relation to China and identity, I find myself in a paradoxical situation. I often ponder on this issue even though it always confuses me.
Understanding my father’s experience of sneaking into Hong Kong has helped me to have a better grasp of my identity. However, I can only project based on his memories which are fragmented and indistinct, and other times based on his facial expressions and conversations.
Inevitably, the “past” is fading away, we cannot capture every moment of the past, but we can try to re-experience it and it might be the best method for me to rediscover my identity. From the personal history of my father to the collective memories of those stowaways interviewed by Bingan Chan, a Shenzhen journalist, my personal research does not only complement his but also allows my concerns to emerge at a personal level. I believe that part of forgotten history affects every stowaway and their descendants, and perhaps to an extent, the whole of Hong Kong. This is about identity, but more importantly, it determines what Hong Kong is, the core values that we often refer to.
This is an art project that is neither biographical nor documentary in nature. Perhaps currently it is a reflection of my father; but it could also be used to trace the origins of Hong Kong people or even linked to other things beyond my imagination.
Siu Wai Hang graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Creative Media from The School of Creative Media, The City University of Hong Kong. He went on to obtain his Master of Fine Art from the Department of Fine Arts, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. In 2014, he won the WYNG Masters Award on the theme of “AIR”. In 2010, Siu presented a solo exhibition “Metropolis Chlorophyll” (K11 Art Mall, 2010) and in 2015 he presented “The Elusive” (Lumenvisum, 2015). He has also joined a number group exhibitions, including “780S” (Blindspot Gallery, 2014) , “WYNG Masters Award Finalists’ Exhibition – GASP” (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, 2014), “Pingyao International Photography Festival 2013” (Pingyao, 2013), “Hong Kong Contemporary Art Awards 2012” (Hong Kong Museum of Art, 2013), “Hong Kong EYE” (Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, 2013), “Image on the Run” (City University of Hong Kong, 2013) and “Dine at Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate” (2009). His works are collected by The Legislative Council of Hong Kong, The Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong and various private collections. He currently lives and works in Hong Kong and teaches at various art institutes and universities.
Computers, electronics and mobile phones pile up on the streets of Guiyu, a small town of not more than two hundred thousand people in southeastern China. In ten years, the town has gone from being green and leafy to becoming one of the most polluted towns in the world, as millions of tonnes of electronic waste from Western companies have arrived from Hong Kong’s port.
The overwhelming majority of the population of this small town spends the day dismantling outdated electronics in illegal workshops, usually located in the basement of their homes. Interestingly, most of these devices were manufactured in China and after passing through more prosperous countries and cities, they return here to be dismantled. Despite knowing the terrible consequences to the environment and personal health (e.g. drinking water must be brought in from 30 kilometers away), lead, gold and copper are extracted without any protection and in appalling conditions with lack of ventilation. And, after further treatment, these materials are readied to be sent on to make copper cables, printed circuit boards and batteries. The most valuable components such as electronic chips, capacitors and screws are resold on the black market managed by mafia organizations that enrich themselves at the expense of the poorest. Unscrupulous bosses are reluctant to show the reality of this recycling and will do anything to protect their business from possible leaks to the outside world.
Albert Bonsfills was born in Barcelona in 1982. He studied photography at the Institute of Photographic Studies of Catalonia (IEFC).
Currently living between China and Barcelona, Albert focuses his work on unique and intimate stories that often go unnoticed, aiming to show how society is through documentary photography, and using documentary as a tool for reflection and to support the struggle for human rights. In an effort to understand the people he photographs more deeply, as part of his approach, Albert tries to discern their dreams and the things that make them cling to life.
Albert was selected for the 4th Lumix Festival for Young Photojournalism and was nominated for both Magnum Foundation’s Emergency Fund and the Joop Swart Masterclass in 2014. His work has been awarded the Premio Internazionale ON THE MOVE (2013) and the Renaissance Prize (2013). In 2011, he received a grant for young Catalan photojournalists to continue his work in Eastern China.
Albert’s works have been selected amongst the finalists in several contests and festivals and have been published, projected and exhibited in India, USA, Spain, Italy, Russia, France and the United Kingdom.
To pay for their substandard living environment, these underprivileged families – with average household income of less than HK$8,000 – must spend more than half their earnings on rent. Not only does this restrict their budget for food and toys for their children, these families also have to live with serious safety hazards such as potential fire threats cause by overloaded electricity wiring amongst subdivided units, blockage of rear fire escape staircases and poor hygienic conditions.
Over the years, Ko Chung Ming has received a number of photojournalism awards, including 1st prize Hong Kong Press Photographers Association – Focus at the Frontline 2007, People category and 1st prize in the Focus at the Frontline 2002, Features category. He participated in ‘Art Chat on Harbour’, a exhibition featuring Hong Kong and China artists at the Cattle Depot in 2004.
The roof is a maze of corridors, narrow passageways between huts built of sheet metal, wood, brick and plastics. There are steps and ladders leading up to a second level of huts. We get lost. Our leaflets in hand, Rufina knocks on a door. There is an exchange in Cantonese. Stefan stands in the background, the foreigner, smiling, not understanding a word. They hear us out, smile back and invite us into their homes.
Later, we look down at the building from a higher one across the street. The roof is huge, like a village. There must be thirty or forty households on it. From the outside there is no way of knowing what is inside. Whether they have Internet or not. Whether they have a toilet. And there is no way of knowing their stories.
Who makes a picture of this? Who keeps a record? Sometimes a newspaper will print an article, or an NGO will launch a campaign. Various government departments keep files on so-called “unauthorized building works”, coding the huts with permanent markers and photographing them. The files are not on public record, but residents may look at them to learn why their homes are to be demolished. Very rarely do rooftop residents document their own spaces: the family pictures we saw were taken standing in a field of sunflowers, or in a village in the mainland, or down on the street beside someone else’s car, smiling.
We walk up the stairs again. We no longer get lost in the corridors. We learn how residents modify and maintain their homes. There are people who have been living on the roof for twenty or thirty years who have helped to build the city. The new immigrants from Mainland China, from Southeast Asia, from Pakistan, continue to do so. In the seventies, they built the underground, and now they are working on the new tower blocks. Hong Kong’s older districts are being redeveloped. Some buildings are crumbling because they were built with salt water concrete. Others have to make way for taller ones that yield higher profits. Few rooftop residents would mind living in the new towers, but they cannot afford it. All are afraid of being resettled to the remote satellite towns, where there may be few opportunities and limited social networks.
We walk up the stairs again. The rooftop settlements are an urban legacy, telling the story of Hong Kong, of political upheavals in Mainland China, of urban redevelopment, of people’s hopes and their needs in the city.
The aim of this project is to photograph collected samples of roadside vegetation from several districts in Hong Kong located close to or in landfills, container yards, and urban areas. These include Lung Kwu Tan, Tseung Kwan O, Lau Fau Shan, Kwai Chung, Mong Kok and Causeway Bay. The plants were easily collected, because the roots and branches were weak and fragile due to the adverse conditions in which they lived. Dust, particles, and toxic gases block the sunlight, and stop photosynthesis, killing roadside vegetation. The same toxins that roadside vegetation absorb, is actually what we breathe on the streets everyday in Hong Kong. The death of vegetation is a reflection of Hong Kong’s abominable air quality.
Polluted plant specimens were photographed using a standardized typological photography methodology. Details of tiny particles and dust covering each sample of roadside vegetation are visible in each photo, emphasizing that vehicle emissions is a main culprit of air pollution in Hong Kong.
Beginning with her own identity as a migrant in Hong Kong, Tay asks of how these movements affect how one conceives of one self – how national and family histories and narratives converge with one’s memory, how everyday relationships affect us, how contemporary conditions, be they social, economic or political, create a discordant interiority, and how all these shape us. The imagery and audio text are presented unlinked, in layers that create different contexts for looking and listening, and in this way consider the mutability of these identities in transition that underlie the complex relationship between Hong Kong and China.
Excerpts of voices in project:
(Translated from Cantonese) …after they have been here for long enough, they forget. In my opinion, I feel my uncle has forgotten, my mum too. So then they take an entirely different position from Mainland Chinese on everything, and this adds to the sense of distance Hong Kong feels from China. Even people who were previously intimately tied to China will think they are different from Mainland Chinese, assuming ‘I am not the same as them’—as if they are watching the fire from the other shore…
You could say, the city has returned, but the heart has not.
(Translated from Mandarin) …it’s that they don’t really understand China. They don’t understand the level of vision and aptitude of our generation, which has undergone brainwashing but for whom it hasn’t worked. There isn’t enough interaction between us. Because of this, the two-way discrimination, added to the government’s own stupid on so many policies, there are fewer and fewer chances for interaction and understanding. If this is the case, then there isn’t much point in me staying here. When I came to Hong Kong, my goal was to become a global citizen. But I now realize that I’ve still ended up being a so-called citizen of the People’s Republic of China anyway…
(Translated from Cantonese) …I used to wonder—what am I doing here… What kind of person am I when I’m here in Hong Kong. All the interactions one has with the city—work, entertainment, friends, I had none of that. Besides having mum here, I lived like a solitary island. Back then, I struggled more with these issues, wondering whether I wanted to return to Hong Kong in the future. But later, perhaps as I grew up, I felt … it doesn’t really matter if I assimilate. As long as you have your own life, it’s fine; you don’t have to force yourself to become a “normal” Hong Konger…
(Translated from Mandarin) …My dad was in the army, so when I was born he wasn’t around… Initially, my mum was a government official in the township women’s department. She would go around to villages and give talks to raise women’s cultural awareness. Actually, I‘m not really sure—to me “women’s work” sounds rather abstract… When I still lived at home… I wasn’t so interested in family and marriage because I didn’t know what it was. But since I’ve left home, especially in Hong Kong, I’ve been able to slowly step out of my mum’s shadow. I can experience things and think about what I want, and feel things that are coming from me…
(Translated from Mandarin) …Since I was a child, I was taught in school not to participate in political debates, and to avoid all political activities. I felt that if I participated, something bad would happen. In time this has slowly become a kind of habit. I’ve become afraid…afraid of creating any negative outcomes for myself.
Although the state doesn’t explicitly say that if you speak out they will do something to you, in my heart there is a concern, and this worry creates a burden that wears my heart down, making me always uneasy…
(Translated from Mandarin) …The orientation camp was a very dark period for me. I really wanted to fit in, but it was very difficult, and it was very difficult to adjust psychologically also. So… After that, after learning Cantonese we could use that, with Mandarin and English, and we felt that we could communicate and do away with the misunderstandings and feelings of low self-esteem. But did we really assimilate, for example, into our Hong Kong classmates’ circles, I am not really sure…
(Translated from Cantonese) …I remember when I was in China, wearing the red scarf to school, studying patriotic things. When you learnt about Communism, it was all part of your studies, but it wasn’t something you needed to practice in your daily life, like the Communist spirit. It’s just a subject, like something you study for an exam. Perhaps it’s like Bible studies was. You don’t really practice what is said in the Bible everyday. It’s just like that. You still lead your life as a regular person; the Communist Party didn’t affect your life at all….
(Translated from Cantonese) …I know that many Hong Kongers don’t like certain behaviours of Mainlanders, so I feel that if I am with Hong Kongers, I hope I will not let them feel that I am different from them. At least, I will not be like their idea of an uncivilized Mainlander.
Wong Ka Chong (which means “the factory of the British colonial government” in Cantonese) was a cottage house district in which my father lived for many years. I followed the old address and found that it is now a six-storey Civil Servants’ Cooperative Building which has been left abandoned after all the properties were sold to a Chinese Investment Company in 2016. A high-rise luxury apartment will be developed here in the future.
As the door unlocked, my curiosity quickly turned into agitation as the space exposes the grim reality of the times: housing issues in Hong Kong. From illegal cottage houses built by bare hands in the 50s, to the establishment of the system of Cooperative Buildings, there was once hope that civilians could build their homes in Hong Kong. However, housing now brings only stabbing pain to the majority—with ever-surging property prices, one cannot imagine to afford a space called “home”. What now lies in front of me is a large empty apartment, so I can investigate time in Hong Kong as captured by these objects, and to imagine the texture of life of homeowners and the life of a well-off Hong Kong family during the colonial days.
Newspaper clippings of 4th June 1989 and a yellow umbrella wall strap; documents of the Cooperative Building Society and pieces of personal information; five-digit, six-digit, seven-digit, and eight-digit telephone numbers; postcards from overseas and wedding slides; and goddess statues in the living room and copies of pornography in the bedroom fill the space with fantasy — as though one were entering the backstage of history. Collected objects were unearthed and placed, naked, under the sun. These are not artefacts of ancient history but modernity, an arbitrary time capsule that uncovers the interwoven experiences of an individual, a family and life as it is now.
What encouraged me to revisit the space for a photoshoot was the desire to remap the relationships between the objects and the people who once lived in there, but what I found were objects that had obviously been removed. The presence of randomly inverted boxes and loose items show that the objects had lost their owner, like a piece of history to which no one pays attention, a piece of history that can be freely manipulated, altered, deleted and defined. Does this not represent one nature of transition? Photography provides a rational lens to observe this unlocked space. It helps capture fleeting emotions in the present. I gave up restoring the truth of the found objects, using instead images to construct a subjective timeline to analyse the seemingly important and unimportant traces marked on the objects, and leave a footnote for the Cooperative Building and its history.
Having graduated from the Fine Arts Department of the Chinese University of Hong Kong with a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Fine Arts degree, Sui-fong YIM works with images, writing and performative actions that engage people in a constructed situation. Drifting between fiction and history, embodied and emotional memories etc., YIM’s work often explores discrepancies, interpretation and tension that occur in the process of interpersonal communication by retelling one’s memory in connection to everyday life. Recent exhibitions in which YIM’s work has been showcased include Time Attendant (Oil Street Art Space, 2018); the Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize 2017 (Blindspot Gallery, 2017); the Talkover/Handover 2.0 (1 a Space, 2017); and Mountain Sites: Views of Laoshan (Sifang Art Museum, 2016); YIM is a co-founder of Rooftop Institute; a core member of the artist collective, L sub, which will be participating in the Echigo-Tsunami Art Triennial 2020 at the Hong Kong House.
First combing, together all your lives
Second combing, harmony in your marriage
Third combing, blessed with many children and grandchildren
— The four blessings at the pre-wedding hair combing ceremony
Historically, women enjoyed little status in Chinese society. Daughters were often unwanted and were matched off in marriage at an early age. Women from poor families were often forced into arranged marriages and enslaved to her husband’s family, some ended up in abusive relationships with years of suffering.
Around the beginning of the Qin Dynasty (circa 1640s), in the Shunde area of South China, thanks to the booming silk trade, sectors of women became financially independent. Many would wear their hair in a long braid to symbolise their autonomy until their wedding, often having a say in who they would marry. Towards the end of the 19th century, as Imperial China began to crumble and instability spread, many women in the area took the initiative and performed the comb up ritual.
The comb up ceremony involved bathing with mulberry leaves and a fellow sister would braid their hair. From that day on, they could only wear a light colour tunic and dark trousers. They would take the chastity vow and have no further obligations towards their parents. They were free to travel and make their own living.
Being an early feminist was not without its drawbacks. Combed up women were not allowed to return home to die in their old age, and their relatives could choose to have nothing to do with the funeral arrangements. As a result, many sisterhood homes sprung up and the combed up women would look after each other, often considered sisters for life.
After the fall of the imperial empire in early 20th century, the silk trade was in great decline and most of the combed up women were out of work. Many travelled out of china across South East Asia and took on the jobs of nannies and domestic helpers.
This project centres around Mak Ngan Yuk (麥顏玉), an eighty seven year old woman who was my nanny and worked for my family for nearly 40 years.
She is the firstborn child in a poor rural family in south China. Denied schooling opportunities due to her gender, she became the main caregiver to her 3 year old brother and baby sister at the age of 8. She started work in the Mulberry fields from around the age of 15 but was often sent home due to her size, and she was considered too slow. Desperate to learn to read, She started paying for her own schooling with some of the money she earned; when her father found out, she was told that if she was going to spend the money on schooling, she should be paying for her younger brothers to attend instead of wasting it on herself.
In her early twenties, pressure began to mount on her to get married. As the eldest sister, she was expected to be married before her brothers could find a suitable bride. Not wanting to be forced into an arranged marriage, she performed the comb up service and left for Hong Kong to work as a domestic helper.
After several temporary jobs, she would work for only two families for the next 55 years. During which time; she kept her family alive through the great famine in 1950s, paid for all her nephews and nieces educations, built several houses in her home village for her aunts, brothers and nephews and supported several of her nephews businesses, one of which flourished into a very successful business employing over 350 workers. Yet through all this, she has retained a very simple lifestyle. After retiring ten years ago, she chose to live alone in a government studio flat instead of moving into a sisterhood house (姑婆屋) and still enjoys the autonomy of being her own person.
She is respected and loved by not only her blood relatives, whom she has sacrificed so much of her life for; but also the grown up children that she cared for over the years.
In every sense, she symbolises the last generation of comb-up women, hard working, selfless and independent.
This project combines new photographs, found photographs and several other mixed media pieces, including Chinese Ink work and two textile based work. They retrace the life of Mak’s so far and beyond. Both biographical and anthropological, her story will be the starting point to explore generations of comb up women, giving a voice to generations of unsung heroines who are might otherwise be ignored and forgotten.
Born in Hong Kong in 1977, Kurt Tong was originally trained as a health visitor at the University of Liverpool. He has worked and traveled extensively across Europe, the Americas and Asia. In 1999, Kurt co-founded Prema Vasam, a charitable home for disabled and disadvantaged children in Chennai, South India.
Kurt became a full-time photographer in 2003. He was the winner of the Luis Valtuena International Humanitarian Photography Award with his first picture story documenting the treatment of disabled children in India. He worked for many other NGOs and covered stories from Female Infanticide to ballroom dancers.
He gained his Masters in documentary photography at the London College of Communications in 2006 and began working on much more personal projects. He has since been chosen as the winner of Photograph.Book.Now competition, the Hey, Hot Shot! competition and the Jerwood Photography Award for his project People’s Park, a wistful exploration of the now deserted Communist era public spaces. “In Case it Rains in Heaven’ exploring the practice of Chinese funeral offerings, has been widely exhibited including a solo exhibition at Compton Verney and features in several public collections. A monograph of the work was published by Kehrer Verlag in 2011.
His more recent work, ‘The Queen, The Chairman and I’, a multilayered narrative picture book dealing with the story of Hong Kong of the last 100 years and the Asian Diaspora through the lives of his own family is presented as a Chinese teahouse. The project has been exhibited across 5 continents, most recently at the Victoria Museum in Liverpool, UK and Galleri Image in Denmark and Visual Art Center at the Chinese Cultural Foundation of San Francisco. The installation traveled Impressions Gallery in Bradford in 2016 and will continue to tour different venues across the UK.
Much of Kurt’s recent work, while remaining photographic in essence, has moved towards installation and sculptural based, pushing the boundaries of the medium. Echoed Visions, a series of installation question the medium of photography, made its debut at the Identity Art Gallery, Hong Kong in February 2014.
心.思.過. , a public participation project set within an classical Chinese garden in Zhongshan opened in August 2015 and will become a permanent feature within the park.
His latest work Sweet Water, Bitter Earth and Trust Little in Tomorrow made their debut at Unseen in Amsterdam, with planned exhibitions in 2017 both in the UK and US
He is represented by Jen Bekman Gallery in New York and The Photographer’s Gallery in London.
It begins with a worn-out photo.
Hiding in an album my grandmother left us after she passed away is a photo that tells an untold chapter of my family history: My grandparents used to run a small grocery store in Chai Wan in the 70s. Today, Man Lee Store, as it was called, has already morphed into a run-of-the-mill concrete wall structure facing an underground train station.
Our city never ceases to change. As I turn the found objects from grocery stores into specimens in concrete, the disappearing urban tales buried underneath the ever-taller high-rises are given new forms. The absence in space of the concrete boards makes a poignant remark, moulds after moulds, as a that-has-been — an uncanny presence against change. These half-moulds-half-specimens are then recast as negative images. The photographic impressions, with their light and shadow reversed, reflect the achingly quotidian life lost in the fabric of space and time. Their silence never ceases to speak to us, as a void lurking in our city that seems so close yet distant to us.
The stores and their stories may be remembered and disremembered. Never are they too far from our hearts, however. They are just around the corner of the street that we pass by every day. A once most familiar sight.
Sharon Lee (b. 1992, Hong Kong) graduated from The Chinese University of Hong Kong with a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts in 2016. She was selected as the New Light of the year by Lumenvisum and debuted her solo exhibition The Presence of Absence in Hong Kong in 2017. Lee participated in several art residencies and group exhibitions in Germany and Taiwan. Her photographic art practice derives from her sensitivity to materials and the mundane of everyday life.
In Situ is a series depicting a private home filled with excess physical materials existing in a disordered manner. A personal inspection of unwanted objects, leads to a projection of, and reflection on, local living conditions and the larger societal environment. As titled, contents were photographed in their original position. They are a result of failed attempts to bring matters into order. Struggles of changing the system and condition in a home with parents is the same as struggles with authorities in the city. The underexposed atmosphere in the photographs conceals private belongings and the embarrassment in exposing an undesirable place to live, while conveying a dark and calm aesthetic intended to ease the anxiety of inhabiting such a space.
In past years, the focus of Lam Hoi Sin’s (b. 1986, Hong Kong) practice has been on Internet cultivation, generating attention and discussion around arts and ideological issues by means of themed blogs and online delivery of contextualised content. In addition to her virtual presence, Lam has participated in physical exhibitions including Shampoo Whatever #1, The A.lift (2014), Ten Million Rooms of Yearning. Sex in Hong Kong, Para Site (2014), The Personal and the Political, Experimenta (2013), The Crap Show, Hardneck.hk (2012), and Interpretation, Gallery Exit (2011).
The air of a city, generally considered as the spirit of the city, is also invisible, but exists and is alive within us.<>Sixteen years has passed since the sovereignty rights over Hong Kong were returned to China. At that time, the people of Hong Kong, after coming through a centennial of adversities, felt that doomsday had arrived. From 1997 onward, principal officials’ accountability system, mother tongue tutoring, Asian financial crisis, SARS epidemic, 1st July rallies, Lehman brothers, 2008 financial tsunami, HSBC share price collapse, bird flu, moral and national education, air and light pollution…. to today, for the people of Hong Kong, the so-called ‘doomsday’, would certainly be the decay of the spirit of Hong Kong. Though invisible, it stays beside us, aloof.
If ever I have the chance to witness the last glimpse of piercing white light before the doom of Hong Kong, I hope that the people of Hong Kong, from every walk of life, with their limited days on earth, resolve with willfulness to live.
Say goodbye to the outermost city of South China.
For over 100 years, photography has been based on photo sensitive chemicals reacting to lights. However, with the advance of digital imaging, photographic prints are now overwhelmingly inkjet. In 1991, Jack Duganne, a digital print maker in California came up with the name Giclée, a French verb meaning ‘that which is sprayed or squirted’ for his inkjet prints. Giclée prints are now regarded as the high-end inkjet prints within the fine art market.
With that in mind, Kurt Tong is developing the next generation of photo imaging. Moving on from ‘ink squirted onto paper’, Kurt will be utilising dirt. Different adhesives are applied onto traditional Giclée prints and left on various roadsides in order for air pollutants to organically bind to the prints. Hong Kong was chosen as the first test city since it has one of the worst air qualities in relation to GDP per capital in the world.
To give credibility to the technique, Saleté, French for ‘dirt’ has been chosen for its name. Future prints will also utilize burnt bugs in street lamps and reclaimed land dust. (The above statement was originally submitted into the WYNG Masters Award. Kurt Tong has employed a satire frame of the current fine art print market as a vehicle to examine current air quality issues in Hong Kong and to physically visualise existing air pollutants.)
Kurt became a full-time photographer in 2003. He was the winner of the Luis Valtuena International Humanitarian Photography Award with his first picture story documenting the treatment of disabled children in India. He has worked for many NGOs and covered stories from female infanticide to ballroom dancers.
He gained his Masters in documentary photography at the London College of Communications in 2006 and began working on more personal projects. He has since been chosen as the winner of Photograph.Book.Now competition, the Hey, Hot Shot! competition and the Jerwood Photography Award for his project People’s Park, a wistful exploration of the now deserted Communist era public spaces. In Case it Rains in Heaven, explores the practice of Chinese funeral offerings, has been widely exhibited and features in several public collections. A monograph of the work was published by Kehrer Verlag in 2011.
His more recent work, The Queen, The Chairman and I, a multilayered, narrative picture book that examines the story of Hong Kong of the last 100 years, and the Asian Diaspora, through the lives of his own family, is presented in the form of a Chinese teahouse installation where the story is shared. The project has been exhibited across 5 continents, most recently at the Victoria Museum in Liverpool, United Kingdom and Galleri Image in Denmark.
Much of Kurt’s recent work, while remaining photographic in essence, has moved towards installation and sculptural-based practice, pushing the boundaries of the medium. His new work will debut at the Identity Art Gallery, Hong Kong in February 2014.
Kurt is represented by Jen Bekman Gallery in New York, The Photographer’s Gallery in London and by Identity Art Gallery and Blindspot Gallery in Hong Kong.
Total area: 1,104.43 square kilometres
With a huge population on a very scarce land mass, Hong Kong’s per capita living space is only about 15 square metres, far below that of Singapore at 30 square metres and the United Kingdom at 97.9 square metres. While people around the world may wonder how to gain more living space by trashing their old stuff, some people in Hong Kong struggle to make the best use of their 15 square metres to store their treasures, some of which may seem worthless. In fact, each piece of these worthless items has an indelible story and history behind it. So, are they trash or treasures? Should we keep them or throw them away? It all depends, you make the decision based on your heart or your head!
Au Fung Man Abby is a graphic designer who loves traveling, freedom and definitely photography. Abby finds photography fascinating, her works capture the nature of beauty and people. In 2011, she spent a year in Australia to search for, and find, incredible secret places. She used her camera to capture every moment, which stimulated her senses and nourished her growing passion for photography. The photos Abby made were used in campaigns to promote Australian tourism. In 2014, Abby joined IDEA Project, a non-profit organisation committed to designing and building schools for Cambodian children. During her time there, she used her camera to record the lives and faces of local Cambodians.
Hong Kong Soup (湯) is a recently completed, long term project depicting waste plastic collected from over thirty different beaches in Hong Kong. Over 1,826 tonnes of municipal waste plastic per day goes into landfill in Hong Kong, and each image reflects the diverse range of these products by highlighting recovered objects or groups having escaped recycling or landfill.
The images directly relate to the traditions, events, nature, and culture of Hong Kong, with the intention to connect with its people providing awareness about the crisis facing effective waste management. Objects include products from manufacturing, retail, household and medical waste alongside agricultural, shipping and fishing related debris.
Soup (湯) is a description given to plastic debris suspended in the sea and in this case with reference to the waste crisis in Hong Kong. The series aims to engage with the public by stimulating an emotional response, combining a contradiction between initial aesthetic attraction with an awareness to encourage social responsibility.
All debris in this series has been collected over the past three years (since 2012). Photographed in Hong Kong and composed in the United Kingdom, it represents a wide-ranging collection of waste that has existed for varying amounts of time on Hong Kong’s own doorstep.
Statistic – The Environmental Protection Department, Hong Kong. Waste Statistics for 2012.
Mandy Barker is an international, award-winning photographer and her work involving marine plastic debris has received global recognition. Her series SOUP has been published in over 20 countries including TIME Magazine USA, The Guardian Eyewitness, GEO, CNN, and The Explorers Journal. She has exhibited internationally and her work is currently touring the United States as part of exhibition Gyre: The Plastic Ocean, which began in 2013 at The Anchorage Museum, Alaska.
In 2012 Barker was awarded The Royal Photographic Society’s Environmental Bursary enabling her to join scientists aboard a Plastic Research Expedition sailing from Japan to Hawaii through the Tsunami Debris Field in the Pacific Ocean. This opportunity allowed her to create the series SHOAL, enabling her to see debris at source and providing a solid foundation for her ongoing work.
Barker speaks internationally about her work and in November 2013 was invited to speak at the Plastic Free Seas Youth Conference in Hong Kong. She has contributed to articles for CNN International concerning the relationship between the arts and the environment, and in the United States her work was featured on TIME Magazine’s Lightbox for Earth Day 2012. She has been nominated twice for the prestigious Prix Pictet award, the world’s leading photographic award in sustainability, and in 2014 received an award from Lens Culture for her series PENALTY, which involved the collection of 769 marine debris soccer balls from around the World. She was also selected as a finalist in the Critical Mass Top 50 of 2014.
Barker’s work aims to engage with, and stimulate, an emotional response in the viewer by combining a contradiction between initial aesthetic attraction and the subsequent message of awareness. The impact of oceanic waste is an area Barker is committed to pursuing through innovative visual interpretation, hoping it will ultimately lead to positive action in tackling this increasing global environmental problem.
We thought we were once the owners of this prosperous city. The sad truth is that the culture and lifestyle we used to be proud of has, over the last decade, become contaminated, imperceptibly covering our sanity, corroding our thoughts. What we are recklessly and ignorantly giving up today, rebounds on us out of turn. Nowhere is home now.
Hong Kong artist Remmus Ha graduated from Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (Advanced Diploma of Marketing) and University of Tasmania (Bachelor of Business), continuing his studies in photography at Hong Kong University School of Professional and Continuing Education. Currently Art Director of O’Yeaa Studio, Remmus has investigated multifarious fields, assuming positions as a hairstylist, chef, security guard, bank clerk, fundraiser, porter, publishing officer, PR event officer and designer. His aim is to experience and to decode, in greater depth, the complexity of this glamorous city; an attempt to dig for a reverse insight of this place. Recent works include Behind the Front, Eternal Trice and The Return.
Living in an economically driven society, we encounter people from all walks of life; every day they come and go with canned faces our minds are not quick enough to digest. By recording every voice and face through the lens, Remmus believes it can act as a bridge, linking up individuals with the world instantaneously. The entire universe is frozen, prolonged so that one can seek an alternative, balanced perspective from the subjective world. Textures and communications in the milieu are captured and reappear, without boundaries or barriers, exposing the egos through images, unrestrainedly.
As time goes by, the circle of life continues.
Life is full of joys and sorrows, comings and goings.
The works of nature have given value and meaning to everything in existence.
Glass debris after extravagance, falling petals, a halt to the song of splendor;
Forgotten esteem, world of the mortals, all shattered in this city of haze.
Their seemingly humble, yet dignified existence witnesses the joy and sorrow of the world.
All the hustle and bustle in this world is about profits.
All wild passion and obsessive desire vanish in the blink of an eye.
What did one own and by whom was one owned?
Who has spent one’s whole life taking possession of something? Yet lets desire slip to a fingertip like quicksand.
The incessant increase of weight and volume is due to human beings’
It also registers a past which does not want to be mentioned, and a future which cannot be realized.
Origin arises and ends, so does every life in the world. It is the course of fate and nature.
The survivors of destruction weep for the changes in life.
Life goes on, while dignity is worn away slowly; but silent time and overflowing desires are eternal.
As the circle of the world continues, people are still seen wandering in the ruins of the city, constructing their dreams in the wasteland.
When shall we ever gain insight? Then we smile again.
Ringo Tang (b.1961-Hong Kong) – multimedia visual artist, photographer, TVC director. His acute awareness of the art scene is visible in his many faceted works. His reputation is of one who is always experimenting with new styles and pushing to the edge. Ringo has worked as a professional photographer since 1984 and began filmmaking in 1994. Ringo is also committed to the community, developing special cultural projects with the University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Museum of History and the Hong Kong Museum of Art.
Ringo has exhibited in numerous group shows including: Twin Peaks, Contemporary Hong Kong Photography, Hong Kong Heritage Museum (2014), Breathe Life, ArtisTree (2013), From City to City, ArtisTree (2012), Breathe Life, Siemens 798 Beijing (2011), Magnificent Seven, The OCT Art & Design Gallery (2010), Imaging Hong Kong Contemporary Photography 2009, Hong Kong (2009), Hong Kong Arts Festival, Berlin (1999), and solo shows Think Thing, City Contemporary Gallery Hong Kong (1991), Autonomous City, OP Gallery Toronto (2001), Release.Relief, Gallery Yamaki Fine Art Kobe Japan (2013), and And time future contained in time past, New Gallery on Old Bailey (2014).
Ringo is the recipient of many international and local awards, including D&AD Awards (2011), International ARC Awards (2003), Full Frame Documentary Film Festival (2002), Longyxi Awards (2000), New York Festivals Film & Video Awards (1999, 1998), Mobius Awards (1998), Photo District News Awards (1993), HK4A Best Photography & Creative Awards (1996), HKIPP Hasselblad Award (1995), Time Asia Pacific Advertising Awards, Communications Arts (1993), Art Director’s Club Awards of New York (1993) and HKDA Photography (1990).
The art project took the form of an open call, through social media, for creative photographic submissions responding to the theme of environmental air pollution in Asia. Sites such as Facebook, Weibo and Douban were used. Several dozen submissions from around the world, from Beijing to Hong Kong, Kathmandu to Berlin, London to Madrid, were received. An aim of The Big Mist is for participants to use performance and humour in the photographic form as a challenge to over-industrialisation and the pollution it brings. It also acts as a collective silent cry.
The art project is ongoing and more photos will continue to be added. An independent magazine The Big Mist will be published in February 2014 to coincide with the first anniversary of this project.
The Big Mist Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/449960541741862/
The Big Mist Douban Album: http://www.douban.com/photos/album/87029203/
In 2008, together with Chinese American artist Elaine W. Ho, Gao founded the arts group LING & COMMA whose primary interest is to investigate issues of female identity, body-politics, space and interaction with the everyday. Gao Ling’s prominent works include the widely exhibited and published Nv Quan. In 2009, she was invited as a visiting artist and photographer to PROGRAM Berlin and Kontemporar gallery to join the project PUBLIC Research. During that time she began the art project Let Out A Yawn. Two of her works Nv Quan and Hey! TTTTouch Me! are included in the traveling exhibition WOMEN我們 which premiered in Shanghai in 2011, traveled to San Francisco and is currently on view in Miami. n 2012, she collaborated with the NGO Shanghai Nvai to launch the performance/protest “Occupy Shanghai Subway: It’s A Dress, Not A Yes”.. Using Gao’s art piece in Hey! TTTTouch Me! the performance/protest provoked a national discussion, and was featured in international media such as the BBC and the Economist. Her work was reviewed in the contemporary arts journal Yishu in 2012. In 2013 she was interviewed by the Asia-Pacific Research Centre of the Tate Modern which is one of the leading centres for research in visual art and museum studies.
Reviewing photo images from the mass media, we contemplate the presence of all those unidentified minor figures or those who were accidentally captured for a grander narrative. But Roland Barthes’ noeme of photography suggests that anyone who was photographed, no matter how minor s/he was, must have been there. Although we don’t know them at all, they have already occupied a place in our past. By posing as those who appeared in the found images, we hope to challenge the authority of the grand narrative portrayed by the media on one hand; and also shed light on the poetics of photography through our own presence in the newly studio-shot photograph. The impossibility to identify an unidentified person in the past has become our romantic encounter with the history in a most humble but vivid way.
Leung Chi Wo + Sara Wong’s collaboration started in 1992. Their previous work City Cookie was exhibited in Shanghai Biennale, Venice Biennale, as well as Queens Museum in the USA and Museum of Image and Sound in Brazil. In 2015, they had their solo exhibition at Blindspot Gallery in Hong Kong. Leung and Wong, both born in Hong Kong in 1968, graduated from the Department of Fine Arts, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and co-founded Para Site in 1996.
Individually, Leung had solo exhibitions at OCAT Shenzhen (2015), Rokeby London (2012) and ISCP New York (2013). He is currently Assistant Professor at the School of Creative Media of the City University of Hong Kong. Wong’s recent exhibitions include a group show at Pearl Lam Gallery (2013) and a site-specific installation at the Oil Street Art Space (2013) in Hong Kong. Wong is also a practising landscape designer and currently a Senior Lecturer at the Hong Kong Design Institute.
picking them up bit by bit,
i just realized that I have been doing this for some years now.
i tried to pick up the beauty in them, the bits and pieces of the story that I’d never know.
i picked them up,
just because they were there.
i pick them up,
just because I believe that life is beautiful.
(anyone, anything should be respected when it exists, although they might be of no use in our material world.)
A graduate of the Hong Kong Technical Teachers’ College (Design & Technology), anothermountainman (Stanley Wong) is a renowned designer and contemporary artist.
Following five years as a graphic designer, Wong began his career in the advertising industry working as a Chief Executive and Creative Director for many international advertising companies. Fifteen years later, with his passion and enthusiasm for creative visuals, Wong became a film director for television commercials and established 84000 Communications in 2007, branching out his creative career.
Wong is the recipient of more than 600 Asian and international awards for his personal works, design, photography and advertising works. Many of his personal works have been exhibited overseas in international museums and are now part of their permanent collections. In May 2012, Wong was awarded the Artist of the Year 2011 (Visual Arts) from Hong Kong Arts Development Awards and the Hong Kong Contemporary Art Awards 2012 from the Hong Kong Museum of Art.
Additionally, anothermountainman is very passionate in photography and various creative mediums with a strong focus on social issues. For over the past decade, Wong has gained an international audience with his red, white and blue collection, representing the positive spirit of Hong Kong. In addition, anothermountainman is heavily involved in the education of design and art, and travels around the world as a guest lecturer in major local and overseas institutions.
In recent years, anothermountainman had incorporated his studies of Buddhism into his creative works. It is his personal mission to spread dharma for the hope of world equality and harmony.
Thousands of millions of “I”s on the earth, “I” am the one and only.
But “I”, am more than just one –
“I” am a protester, also a counter-protester;
“I” am a man from the outside, a woman from the inside;
“I” am soft and hard-nosed; “I” am also gentle and cruel.
“I”, am blurring in the fast-paced world. Who has ever really known the every “I” inside us?
Are they just a fantasy, an expectation of self?
Are they the same and single id, or diversified egos?
“I”, am lights that never ever stop in the air without fail. Every kind of encounter and cognition is breathing light and shade. Wearing in and wearing out, “I” keep switching.
Between the whites and blacks, blacks and whites, colours of every “I”s leak from the cracks of light.
It is a self-dissection of every “I”, of which multiple “I”s constantly blending, molded into a subtle symphony on the prints.
Remmus Ha, Hong Kong artist, has investigated multifarious fields. His aim is to experience and to decode, in greater depth, the complexity of this glamorous city; in an attempt to dig up an alternative view of this city.
Living in an economically driven society, we encounter people from all walks of life; every day they come and go with straight faces, our minds are not quick enough to digest everything. By recording every voice and face through the lens, Remmus believes it can act as a bridge, linking up individuals with the world instantaneously. The entire universe is frozen, prolonged so that one can seek an alternative, balanced perspective from the subjective world. Feelings and expressions are captured and brought to life again, without boundaries or barriers, exposing the real self through images.
The plight of refugees in Hong Kong, is the consequence of a system that isolates and leaves them with an endless wait, out of sight from the rest of the population in unsanitary slums.
About 10,000 refugees live in Hong Kong, mostly originating from the Indian subcontinent, but also from Vietnam, Indonesia or the Horn of Africa. Most of them fled persecution in their country, hoping to find refuge in Hong Kong.
But the city isn’t the haven they were hoping for. Hong Kong has signed the Convention against Torture and cannot repatriate people at risk of torture back to their home countries. Yet, only a very small number of them obtain refugee status.
Upon their arrival in Hong Kong, refugees are registered as asylum seekers or as victims of torture and their passports are confiscated. Normally, it takes three years to process their applications, but some are still waiting after eight years and are not allowed to work.
Refugees have access only to tiny rooms in slums in the New Territories. Initially these slums were not made for housing, these were shacks, pig or chicken farms built or refurbished by unscrupulous owners.
Emmanuel Serna was born in Lunel, France in 1973. After graduating from a photography school in Paris, he spent time photographing in the Balkans mainly in Bosnia, Kosovo after the war and in Serbia, where he made a long-term project about the Serbian youth. Since then he has focused his work in China. Apart from his personal exhibitions, his photos have been exhibited in photo festivals in France. Some of his reports were published in the press and online media. He likes photographing individuals, their relationships with each other and with their environment. Since 2010, he has been living and working in Hong Kong as a freelance photographer.
Since the first barricades were erected as a form of neighborhood defense in the 1500s, these makeshift structures have maintained their significance as a powerful symbol of protest and uprising well into modern times, most recently in Hong Kong’s Occupy Movement, during which major intersections and roadways in the city were blocked off by protesters demanding universal suffrage. The impromptu barricades in Central were erected with great expediency and resolve as a response to forceful police action taken to disperse the crowds. Over the course of the occupation, their configurations were continuously reshaped like communal sculptural objects that are perpetually works in progress.
These provisional, adaptive structures are viewed as a type of vernacular expression arising from protest culture, representing the material and metaphorical emblems of an anonymous, ideological collective.
Set against a backdrop of Government buildings and monolithic office towers, this somewhat nostalgic mode of resistance created a singular “privatized public” space, underscoring the dialectical relationship between traditional power structures and their subversive counterparts.
Johnny Gin is a Hong Kong-based copywriter who has embarked on a second career as a photographer. As a member of the first intake at SCAD HK, he has been working part-time towards an MFA in photography since 2010. He is expected to complete the program and hold his thesis exhibition in June 2016.
His photographic interest lies in the examination of urban spaces and vernacular environments and the ways in which these spaces inform us about the culture and identity of a city. His work has been exhibited in Hong Kong and in the US, and is part of SCAD’s permanent collection. The Architecture of Insurgency, completed in 2014, was selected for inclusion in a showcase of 18 Hong Kong and Taiwanese photographers in the Angkor Photo Festival 2015.
It is not an emotional statement. It is an examination of the choices one faces living at the poverty line. I work with an economist, Lin Hui-Yi, to ensure factual and statistical consistency. We have documented this project in 16 countries – including Hong Kong – across six continents. We 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, we focus on the average daily amount that a person at the poverty line would spend on food.
One frame. One person. One day.
Everything else is left up to interpretation.
HKD $44.96 (USD $5.77, EUR£4.01) for food. This is based on a per capita per-day basis of a poverty indicator for Hong Kong (half of the median average household income), and low-income household food expenditure. Hong Kong currently does not have an official poverty line, but this is expected to come into place under the Commission on Poverty which was newly re-established in December 2012. There is presently, however, an official poverty analysis framework uses a multi-dimensional approach to monitor 24 poverty indicators, which includes educational and child social support rates in addition to income indicators. Poverty indicator statistics are mainly collected by the Census and Statistics Department through the General Household Survey and the Social Welfare Department. Poverty and social welfare issues are monitored and championed by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, which is the overall coordinating body for social service NGOs in Hong Kong. Note: Latest available standards and exchange rates were taken as of July 2011, when the photography was undertaken.
The Poverty Line project, done in conjunction with economist Lin Hui-Yi, won the grand prize at the Arles Photography Open Salon, and was awarded an artist residency during the Les Rencontres d’Arles. The photographic project has since been exhibited at the Three Shadows Photography Art Center in Beijing, and various galleries in Penang, Singapore and Cologne. It has been featured in numerous media transcending conventional photography-based media, including NPR, Foreign Policy, Xinhua and Singapore Business Times. The project was also presented at [email protected], a global talent search by TED in 2012.
Stefen’s work has been recognized with awards by PDN, Billboard, International Photo Awards, Photographie de la Paris. He, himself, is one of the judges for the Tokyo-based Nikon Photo Contest. His clients include The Smithsonian, Time Magazine, Geo Germany, The Guardian, and various commercial companies.
At the age of 25, Stefen climbed to the summit of Mount Everest; he is a member of the Explorers Club,
Stefen currently lives between Beijing and Singapore.
The Gini index in Hong Kong is amongst the top five in the world, which means there is a serious gap between the rich and the poor. All shades of unfair social phenomena – such as educational favouritism, monopolies, real estate hegemony, difficulties facing the elderly and new immigrants, etc. – all contribute to the growth of poverty.
‘Poverty’ as a social phenomenon, and as an issue, is difficult to summarize in a few photos. In this age of ‘knowledge economy’, good education is the key to helping our next generation ‘move upward’ and escape poverty. To fundamentally address and solve the problem of poverty in Hong Kong, the government must focus on reforming the existing educational system. Hence, in this series I consider, reflect and focus on the problems in the educational system.
Hong Kong has been promoting ‘elitism’, turning quality education into talent education. The government’s main focus is on the high- reputation schools and the graduating elite. The emergence of private schools has created an atmosphere of discrimination and segregation amongst schools and students. The government has forgotten that education is fundamentally democratic – for every student. Each student, whether elite or ordinary, rich or poor, should be treated equally.
Government authorities have launched, numerous times, large scale poverty relief measures, but have never addressed poverty alleviation through education. For children of poor families, education is a way to help them get out of the poverty cycle. The government should conduct a comprehensive review of the current outdated educational system, break away from elitism and a single directional teaching model, so that all children can receive quality education.
This work is ongoing as I consider other contributory social problems in order to create a more complete series of photographs that explore poverty in Hong Kong.
“The things I want to express are so beautiful and pure.” — Maurits Cornelis Escher.
Based on this belief, I started my life in photography. My works are a reflection of my opinions and my feelings towards this society.
But wait! Let’s forget all the bad news for a while. Can we try to confront this issue positively and express the need to protect ourselves in a creative and fashionable way?
In my Fashion Cover-up project, I invited five people with very different characters and occupations and created five unique outfits for them. The outfits serve both to protect and beautify the wearers. Instead of showing the sad and ugly side of air pollution, which everyone knows, I prefer to address this social issue in an alternative way, one that will arouse our government’s attention.
* Data from Transport Department http://www.gov.hk/en/residents/environment/air/airquality.htm
Leo is an enthusiastic photographer who tries to connect with people more deeply with photographs. In 2012, he started a photo studio, mainly focused on portrait and reportage photography. His photos are featured in Leica Fotografie International Master Shots Gallery and Lens Folio Asia Exhibition. Awards include Nat Geo Hong Kong Photo Competition 2013 (Champion and finalist) and Final 100 of The Other Hundred Photobook Project 2013. He is also a finalist of WMA Open Photo Contest 2013.
In October 2013, Leo went to Yunnan Province, China and did a personal photo project called Beautiful Strangers for Habitat for Humanity China. In 2014, he plans to do more photo projects for different charity organizations.
I used the idea of putting Hong Kong in a bottle with smoke emitting from it to communicate the idea that we are trapped in middle of a concrete jungle, walking in street canyons where the wind doesn’t blow. We are actually living in a bottle but we just have not realized it yet.
Currently Tommy is a working photojournalist at two Venezuelan schools — Colegio Bellas Artes and Colegio Mater Salvatoris — where he documents every significant activity and event and compiles a digital yearbook for each, fully designed and produced by him. As a professional photographer he has worked on social events, portrait shoots, weddings and underwater projects. In 2013 Tommy sat on the jury of II Concurso de Fotografía CBA 2013, a photography contest in Venezuela . He visits Hong Kong once a year so he still feels Hong Kong is his homeland.
Every year, thousands of asylum seekers escape their countries in the hope of receiving state support as refugees. Fleeing from their homelands, some transit through the glittering metropolitan city – Hong Kong, to reach their final destinations, such as the United States, Canada, and New Zealand.
As a check point, however, as Hong Kong has no domestic legislation to grant refugees temporary or permanent status nor to resettle them. Most of the people strive to establish new lives in a transitory locale, end up stranded in Hong Kong for years on end, and some of them are still waiting to move to begin their new lives. Their mobility is challenged by their stranded condition, but remains active, however restricted.
Kwok has been working on a long-term project documenting the social landscapes of refugees’ mobility and relationships in Hong Kong: From Transit to New Lives, and at the same time conducting a project on male prostitutes in China’s Pearl River Delta: Sister Chang’e. His work has been published on international newspapers and magazines.
Kwok is highly observant and adaptable to cultural and environmental diversity. Apart from generating still images, he works both individually and collaboratively for multimedia storytelling.
If development merely means building more big cities and converting green belt areas into urban ones, destroying suburbanite life and culture, such development can only bring temporary solutions in the form of a seemingly more comfortable life, more efficient consumption and easier planning. However, we are, indeed, over-drafting for resources that should be for future generations, leaving instead environmental damage that is irreversible. Spiritual development, therefore, is more important. It is achieved through learning to care for and bless each other.
Ducky participated in and organised the first Hong Kong International Photo Festival in 2009. He has been the recipient of many awards including being a winner in multiple years of The Society of Publishers in Asia – Excellence in Feature Photography. His work has been presented in various exhibitions in Hong Kong, Japan and France and has been acquired by private collections and by museums.
Hong Kong was promised “50 years of changelessness”—a transformative and unique indicator for its transition. Every day since the handover, society has been infiltrated with minute changes that cannot expressed, ranging from the development of hardware, to the rise and fall of ideologies. Instead of outlining history, this work aims to document transitions in different facets of society, from singing “God Save the Queen” (the national anthem of British Hong Kong) to humming “people are slaves no more” (lyrics from the Chinese national anthem); from being old migrants to becoming new Hongkongers; and from making money as property agents to gaining power as rural landlords. This body of work is created to portray a wandering status of Hong Kong—referencing Beijing, and the ghosts of uncertainty that haunt the journey ahead.
Billy H.C. KWOK (b. 1989, Hong Kong) is an independent photographer. With a BA degree in Media and Communication from City University of Hong Kong, Kwok began his career as a newspaper journalist before pursuing his photographic career. In his journey, images became a more intuitive and engaging medium for him to tell stories beyond syntax. His works focus on human rights in modern-day migration, and contemporary conditions deeply-rooted in power structures among Asian countries.
His work has been published on The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, The Washington Post, Time Magazine, Libération, The Globe and Mail, USA Today, National Post among others.
Kwok is highly observant and adaptable to cultural and environmental diversity. Apart from generating still images, he works both individually and collaboratively for multimedia storytelling.
The idea of the “Wish” series is to try to present in a plain way the various perceptions and desires of Hong Kong from the perspective of common mainland Chinese people. The series has been edited such that an 86-year-old farmer marks its beginning and a 7-year-old girl marks the end. Such a sequence depicts the passage from past to future, as well as the transition of time.
Forty-eight-year-old GONG He graduated from the Zhejiang Sci-Tech University (formerly the Zhejiang Silk Industrial College – Fashion Design). He is a freelance photographer and a dealer of a furniture brand. He is also the chairman of the Youth Photography Art Society of Suining, Sichuan Province (a non-government organisation).
Once upon a time, a cat that wants to obtain wisdom and knowledge puts her head into a History bookshelf. She got stuck and died.
Medium: Digital flat copies of laser printouts
Phil SHEK is a photographic artist who focuses on the documentary attribute. He enjoys exploring photography as a medium from traditional aesthetics to digital immersive technology. He believes that the highest form of a photographic moment is an evidence, which marks the second that a person awakens from the illusion of reality. He is now an instructor of photography and visual communication in School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong. He has received the Photography Award at the Contemporary Hong Kong Art Biennial Exhibition and his work was collected by Hong Kong Heritage Museum.
Build. Renovate. Demolish. These are common themes within this bustling and ever mutating city. As occupants, we rarely dwell on the incomplete and put aside thoughts of what lies beneath the shroud of construction. Occasionally, along the monotonous borders of metal fencing and tarpaulin, one is exposed to moments that catch the attention. The bizarre. The poignant. The humorous. Something familiar and yet undecipherable. ‘Tales from the Common Space’ is part of a larger ongoing anthropological project that explores the urban landscape for signs of creation, decay, life and death while unveiling the effects of mankind on the landscape.
Berton Chang is a Hong Kong native and freelance photographer. He studied Photography at the San Francisco Art Institute where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). His work has been published in domestic and international publications. Although his primary image making tool is photography, Chang has been experimenting with video and destructive techniques to blur the lines between the real and the artificial.
My hands were stained with ink when I read the newspaper. The ink would seep into my fingerprints, like traces of culture. Reading the news is a way to understand the world. I read the newspaper every day during the period of March 2017, during which the headlines were all about the Chief Executive election in Hong Kong. John Tsang, Carrie Lam, Woo Kwok-hing were highlighted daily in headlines. Politics is inseparable from our lives. The role of the media, the relationships between politicians and the media, how is the image of a candidate shaped by the media? One must rely on their own wisdom to judge.
I chose some news articles, cut them into shapes of petals and rearranged them into flowers to record parts of Hong Kong’s history as an art form. My photography work “Ink Dips on Petals” is an attempt to break the usual reading habit of people and urge them to treasure-hunt through the “petals”. Fragmented articles and images are reconstructed to encourage people to think more about the news. The blooming flowers also represent the hope a new Chief Executive may bring to Hong Kong. But is such “hope” presented through public opinion and media real? Is there a discrepancy between the election platforms and policy implementation?
Chan Suk On graduated from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University with a Bachelor degree in Photographic Design. She gained her Masters of Arts in Fine Arts degree from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. On is an editor, photographer and artist. Inspired by social issues, she likes to create images, videos, installations and write. Her practice is developing from documentary photography to conceptual art.
In traditional Hong Kong, there is a belief in the existence of life after death, where the dead await the approval of a new life by an institution in the afterworld. The deceased continue to exist in the afterworld in temporary lodging as they wait in transit.
Descendants of the dead buy and burn their late ancestors’ favourite necessities and paper-made offerings, such as clothes, shoes, food, cars, houses, currency, and so on. It is believed that these offerings, after being set on fire, can be transferred to afterworld as real clothes, shoes, food, cars, houses, currency etc. People are convinced that the deceased will then possess sufficient necessities for daily life, living well and wealthily. This work is about the transition from birth to death, from death to the afterlife, and the transferring of all kinds of offerings to the deceased, while abstract things of ancestors enter their descendants’ minds.
I tried to capture the flow of smoke in each scene, then combined three photos into the whole picture, where the smoke vanishes into things. Smoke is intangible, which is like the phenomena with the human mind in which abstract things emerge. Is seeing is believing? Or is believing is seeing?
Frankie CHAN Kwok-chung started to engage in graphic design and photo imaging while studying for a Design Certificate at the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education in 2004. He specialised in book design, pattern design, 3D lenticular and 3D circle lens picture production.
In 2013, he founded the design company, KISSIGN, in Hong Kong, and started working as a freelancer to explore his personal project, “Six sensations notebook”. In 2014, he was awarded The Award Scheme for Learning Experiences approved by Industry Training Advisory Committees (Printing and Publishing Industry), and was invited to participate in a visual communication exhibition in Germany to learn the latest graphic and photographic skills.
In recent years, he attempted to combine photography in his work to explore social issues and social culture.
In early 2016, his “Comfort Food” series won the Excellent Award (Series Category) in the “Photoeat” Photo Competition held by the Hong Kong International Photo Festival and he was invited to participate in the festival’s “1,000 Families” Exhibition, where he exhibited a series of “Pets’ Human Families” photographs.
From September 2014 onwards, I could no longer see clearly. I could no longer see clearly what was in front of me; as if I am in the middle of a grey storm; blown against by a rapid wave of wind. My vision is confused with anxiety and fear. Through this series of works, I wish to depict the underlying emotions and agitation in Hong Kong through photographic representations, while meditating on this society’s transition, and social and political instability.
The series captures small, yet radical gestures of the flag of Hong Kong. While waving in wind, the flag was documented using photography and presented as visual abstractions. In its sculptural shapes and forms, the flag metaphorically resembles human gestures that are indicative of complex and intense emotions such as fear, anxiety, anger, and weariness. The visual purpose of a flag is to connote the existence of a group; similarly, the gestures of the flag in these images also physically and symbolically depict the underlying emotions of such a group: the emotions of Hong Kong citizens when facing the instability and transition of society.
Through constructing an alternate visual reality in photography, this series questions how reality is represented in photography, as well as points towards how a constructed reality reflects the actual state of Hong Kong and its people. By condensing a wave of wind into ten frozen moments in time, the series allows the audience to contemplate with each discrete gesture of the flag. Through photography, the once-dynamic flag is decisively frozen and divided into individual forms and figures. Despite the individuality of each frozen moment in the series, the body of work also functions as a sequence when being viewed as a unit: while every image presents a unique gestural form, they all share a sequential relationship when viewed together. As a sequence, the images poetically reconstruct the movement of the wind blowing through, reenacting the flow of the wind. While one can never truly see the wind, its presence is evoked through the movement of the flag, vividly manifesting the flow in transition.
Overall, The Flag of Hong Kong, Waving in the Wind explores an alternate photographic reality while simultaneously reflecting the actuality of Hong Kong and the perplexing emotions of its people. Underneath the physical instability of the flag lies a convoluted stream of emotions and agitation of the people in Hong Kong, one that originates from insecurity, anxiety, and fear regarding the uncertain transition into future. As a part of Hong Kong, I share the same deep emotions and agitation when I see the current turmoil in society, and feel disturbed when thinking of the future. I do not know the answers to my queries towards the future, nor the way out of the chaos, yet it is in this special moment in time when we are truly honest towards our own emotions, exposed and laid bare before the unknown future.
b. 1995, Hong Kong
Joseph LEUNG Mong-sum is a Hong Kong-based artist who graduated from the School of Creative Media at City University of Hong Kong with first class honours, and went on an exchange programme at the College of Visual and Performing Arts at the Syracuse University in New York.
LEUNG is interested in exploring the relationship between daily sentiments and the environment. He is currently producing research in the form of photo poetry and conceptual photography for the Master of Fine Arts programme at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He was recently awarded the “Julian Lee Asia One Photographic Awards 2016/17” and chosen as a finalist in the “First Smash 4 Art Project”. His works had previously been shown in the United States, India, Switzerland and Hong Kong.
These photographs (2012 to present) are made in Hong Kong as an investigation of place, subject-hood, and community. My photographs address a desire to negotiate multiple and diasporic identities, to reconcile public and private moments, and establish a sense of agency in the context of a contingent, post-colonial, pre-2047 Hong Kong that is in constant flux and transition. The project combines interviews, collaborative portraits of members of the LGBTQ community and of my family, and images of the landscape — employing construction, subtraction, density, compression and liminal spaces as metaphors. The portraits centre those who are often marginalised and invisibilised, taking care of Hong Kong, each other and their own communities which they have built. Occupying and queering space, time, and gesture: clear or coded, holds possibility. In the spaces of contingency, building and renewal, subtraction and redevelopment, a city is in transition; a body and one’s identity are in transition. This reflects the need to be fluid, agile, plural. Port city and hub, it is a site of migration and dislocation, for many families including my own. Who can claim ownership; who can love or belong; who retains a memory; what does a future look like and who does it include? Is an interregnum possible?
Ka-Man TSE is a photographer and educator. She received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Yale University in 2009, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bard College in 2003. She has exhibited her work at the Lianzhou Foto Festival in Guangdong, China, Para Site and Lumenvisum in Hong Kong, the 2016 Hong Kong Contemporary Film Festival in Hong Kong and New York, and Videotage’s Both Sides Now III – Final Frontiers in Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai, and the United Kingdom. Shows in the United States include the Museum of Chinese in America in New York, the Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York, the Palm Springs Art Museum in California, the New York Public Library, Cornell University, Capricious Gallery in New York, the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, Gallery 339 in Philadelphia, the Silver Eye Center for Photography in Pittsburgh, PA, and Eighth Veil in Los Angeles. She was a SPARC Artist-in-Residence through the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and completed the Artist in the Marketplace Program through the Bronx Museum of Arts. She is the recipient of the 2014-2015 Robert Giard Fellowship. Her work has been featured in Papersafe Magazine and GR-09022017 published by Skreid in Oslo, Norway. She teaches at Yale University and at the Parsons School of Design. Recently, her photographs are featured in Queering Space at Alfred University. She is co-curating a show alongside Matthew Jensen entitled Daybreak: New Affirmations in Queer Photography at the Leslie-Lohman Museum, opening in June 2018.
Tsang’s Odyssey is a story about an old man I met whom designed spaceship and traversed in worlds where we would have been at some points in our lives.
Inspired by a news picture of the HMS Ark Royal (R07) on its way to the Persian Gulf for the Iraq War in 2003, that he tore out from a UK Chinese newspaper, Tsang began a journey in spaceship design. Making sketch and drafting contract on his armoured fighting vehicles collection became a routine, or a ritual, in his life. Thousand of sketches filled up his desk drawers, a perplexed space. The sketches were covered by his thoughts and trace of living, and revealed his state of mind.
Tsang, 83 years of age, was a Chinese immigrant from Hong Kong and resided in an elderly residential home in North London. He arrived at Liverpool in 1967. Like most Chinese immigrants of his generation, he started a catering business, married twice, had four children. His family visited him on a non-regular basis. Sometimes weeks, sometimes years. Who knows? At least, he did not know.
Aging population and gentrification are social issues that we all face in the twentieth-first century. Welfare states and their governments work hard to ensure there will be adequate food and home for all. Tsang had been living in this elderly home in North London in the past twelve years. He stayed in the same bedsit, with pretty much the same breath of air, and the very predictable weekly menu.
I visited him and his space weekly over two months and I hoped to know him more. He repeatedly reminded me he would be dying at the age of 85. It is the nature of life. Before that moment arrived, he hoped the world would recognise his design – with hundreds of construction and engineering drawings of spaceship. Irrational proportion; unconvincing calculation; and yet with the most faithful intention – to fly away. By selling the copyright of his design to various world powers, that is worth GBP 96,000,000 in total, he could have money to save his prodigal son, a gambling addict, that I was told. On one occasion, he offered me 31 sheets (62 pages) of his sketches and hoped that I could help him spreading out his idea. From there, my journey of Tsang’s Odyssey began. The more I visited him, the more I observed a ‘dual realities’ of Tsang – a ‘reality’ that contained him; a ‘reality’ he constructed and confronted the world (or to live and believe). I became intrigued to unfold his worlds layer by layer, from what I could see by my naked eyes, to where I used my intuition to feel and contemplate. Behind the lens, I see the hugeness and expansive quality of the mundane.
62 pages of sketches, including drawing, user manual, conceptualisation, cost management and contract, present Tsang’s state of mind in its most tangible form. The actuality and presence of sketches inarguably are ‘proofs of being once lived.’ 28 photographic images were created to visualise my perception to and interpretation of his worlds, and some of his unfulfilled dreams. In this exhibition, I present 5 diptychs of photographic images and 4 documents to construct this moving yet immobile existence. I could not help but wondering, what and where will I (or you) be when we were 83 years of age? How much travels one experience in order to get settled down? Will we colonise Mars in the future? Could I travel to the Moon with Tsang’s design?
LEE Wing Ki (b. 1981) is a photographer born and based in Hong Kong. He read history of art at the University of Hong Kong and received postgraduate training in documentary photography and photojournalism at London College of Communication, University of the Arts London, supported by a British Chevening Scholarship. His photography exhibited in Austria, Germany, Hong Kong, Latvia and the UK. Lee’s works concern ‘humanity’, and the social, cultural and political conditions that ‘we’ may overlook. Lee is also a researcher, editor and writer on history of photography and visual culture. His writings and editorial projects appear in museum and gallery exhibition catalogues and arts and cultural magazine in Hong Kong, as well as international academic journals. Lee is currently a lecturer in photography at the Academy of Visual Arts, Hong Kong Baptist University.
The Mother of All Journeys by Dinu Li, takes it’s inspiration from the memories of the artist’s own mother. Originally told as bed-time stories, his mother’s memories have since become Li’s memories. In 2001, Li worked in collaboration with her, using each other’s recollections as starting points. Embarking on many journeys together, they have attempted to exact the sites of her history. Comparing the actual with figments of their imagination, identifying old haunts transformed in time and the potential of discovering what remain fixed.
Dinu Li’s colour photographs teases out fragmented moments in time, charting rural traditions in a 1920’s China and of communist ideologies during the late 1940’s. Spanning two decades from the mid 50’s, Li turns his attention to a Hong Kong at a stage of transition, morphing from fishing villages into the beginnings of an urban metropolis. Under British administration, it was a time of sweatshops and western influences. And finally, Li focuses on Britain, from a family resettlement in the 70’s era of strikes and de-industrialisation, through to the start of the millennium, of multiculturalism and globalisation.
Aided by family snapshots and Li’s mother’s narration, The Mother of All Journeys triggers a sense of repetition and nostalgia, invoking glimpses of the times we live in. At the core of Li’s work, is a voyage into time, revealing what we remember of a place and what a place might remind us of. It is a sum of the many influences that shape our existence and how identities are formed. Sites loaded with life experiences, lying dormant, waiting to be excavated, examined and reclaimed.
Dinu Li is a British based multi-discipline artist working across photography, video, installation, archives, found objects and performance. Throughout his practice, Li places himself in a variety of circumstances, responding to his immediate surroundings in an attempt to understand the many cultures he encounters. Li’s output offers a visceral reaction to the world around us within the context of the times we live in. He explores the nuances of the everyday – its many rituals, routines and patterns, in relation to local and global concerns. Recent works have been situated between modes of representation, the vernacular, specific geographic and historical contexts and the intersection between the personal and the political.
Li’s work has been exhibited internationally, including: the 53rd Venice Biennale; the 3rd Bucharest Biennale; the 2015 DongGang International Photography Festival, South Korea; Bildmuseet, Umea, Sweden; Oldenburger Kunstverein, Germany; Alternative Space Loop, Seoul, South Korea; Danielle Arnaud, London; Chalk Horse, Sydney through Para/Site Hong Kong; Petra Rietz Salon, Berlin; SVA, New York through Artprojx; Rivington Place, London; White Space 798, Beijing and Christian Roellin, Zurich.
He has undertaken residencies with OCAT in Shenzhen, China; ArtSway Production Residency in Hampshire and Chengdu, China; and a Cornerhouse and Space Artists Exchange Residency in Central Asia. His work has been included in publications such as ‘The Photobook: A History Volume III by Phaidon in 2014; The Chinese Art Book in 2013, also by Phaidon; whilst in 2007, his own monograph The Mother of All Journeys was voted in The Sunday Times by Martin Parr as one of ten most important international photography books that year. He has been a guest speaker for Tate Modern, the Victoria and Albert Museum, The British Museum and is Senior Lecturer of Photography at Falmouth University in the UK.
In recent years, housing prices and inflation have been going up in Hong Kong. Not only do HongKongers struggle with the stresses of everyday life, but they are also frustrated about their inability to buy a home. The sense of confidence that used to define HongKongers is long gone; what remains is just a shifting shadow. In this self-proclaimed modern metropolis, all people want in life is a stable job, counterfeit goods (to satisfy their vanity), or to win the Mark Six so that they can buy a house. Hong Kong is known to be a land of opportunity… but perhaps it is just some kind of an irony.
Born in Hong Kong in 1962. Graduated from École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux – Arts in Paris, France in 1990. Awards and honours included: the Hong Kong Arts Development Council’s ‘Artist-in-Residence’ programme in Bundanon Art Centre, Australia in 2000; Vermont Studio Center Fellowship, USA as part of the Freeman Foundation’s ‘Artist-in-Residence’ programme in 2005; shortlisted for the Art Promotion Office’s ‘Public Art Scheme’ in 2006; shortlisted for the Hong Kong Art Prize in 2013; and shortlisted for the UOB Art in Ink Awards in 2018.
Selected solo exhibitions:
2014 ‘Luxuriant Materialism’ at Art Beatus Gallery, Hong Kong
2013 ‘Bruce in the Sky with Water’ at Hong Kong Fringe Club Gallery
2010 ‘Heaven And Man As One’ at Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre, Hong Kong
2008 ‘Desire/Disappearance’ at Art Beatus Gallery, Hong Kong
2007 ‘Ten Years Remembering & Dreaming’ at Olympian City Gallery, Hong Kong
2007 ‘Footnotes To Oil Street’ at 1a Space, Cattle Depot Artists Village, Hong Kong
2006 ‘Unity’ at 1a Space, Cattle Depot Artists Village, Hong Kong
2005 ‘Senses’ at Graduate House, The University of Hong Kong,
2005 ‘Senses’ at Art Beatus Gallery, Hong Kong
2005 ‘Sensing’ at Vermont Studio Center, USA
2001 ‘Colour Value’ at Hong Kong Arts Development Council’s Gallery, Hong Kong
Engaged in painting and photography. Art works collected by private collectors, Hong Kong Heritage Museum, Annie Wong Art Foundation, Deutsche Bank and other organisations.
For as long as I can remember, my mother’s friends have been telling me how much I look like her. As my mother’s ‘mini-me’, I want to be connected with her youth through being photographed in the clothes she used to wear, and in the same places she once went to.
As a Dutch artist based in Hong Kong and who used to live in China, I am at once an insider and outsider.
As a mother residing in Asia I am closely exposed to, and to a certain extent even part of the famous – or perhaps infamous – ‘Tiger Mom’ scene.
Living with school-aged children in Hong Kong, it is impossible not to be emotionally affected by the stories of suicides in schools.
I take a balanced view and I am also well aware of the incredible academic performance of children in Hong Kong, Singapore and mainland China compared to children globally.
At the same time, some statistics are terrifying. Some children in primary schools in Hong Kong are given less outdoor time for exercise than prisoners. Fifty percent of secondary school pupils show signs of depression. The school systems in Asia have been consistently referred to a pressure cooker.
What is wrong and what is right? There is the constant fear that by not exhibiting some of the ambitious qualities of a Tiger Mom, we will disadvantage our children.
My work shares a feeling of collective helplessness, as no child, family or school can step out on their own.
I fear an encroaching world in which individuality is no longer seen in children, a world where students become anonymous, judged only by their knowledge and their results. I am scared of a world where pupils are not experiencing the joy of education but only the pressure of passing tests and getting high marks.
This visual manifesto, Time to tame the tigers?, aims to inspire us to collectively re-consider the roles of our schools and parents. Do we have the ambition for our children to be ready for the rapidly changing world we live in, or do we only educate them to be accepted at an Ivy League University?
‘This Art fair’, Beurs van Berlage, Amsterdam
International Urban Image Festival (IUIF), Shenzhen, China
Exhibited multimedia artwork Time to tame the tigers?
Hong Kong International Photo Festival
Exhibited Silence of the Sky
Fine Art Asia, Hong Kong
Exhibited Silence of the Sky
Publication in Field & Stations – a magazine about travels and places
Finalist of ‘Discovery’ photography prize, Affordable Art Fair, Hong Kong
Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre
Group exhibition: ‘Asia, Light, Hope and Dynamism’
Exhibition and artist talk: ‘Unleash the Passion of Wong Chuk Hang’
Beginning of a 6-month Magnum photography multimedia mentorship programme
South China Morning Post
Photo essay – Barbers in back streets of HK
Solo Exhibition: ‘Glamour in Unglamorous Places’
National Geographic Traveler
(Publication of photos taken in Yunnan)
‘Life is full of opportunities, the problem is to recognise them when they present themselves.’ Tiziano Terzani
Every day, on our way to school, to work or back to home, thousands of people are constantly forced through an archipelago of privately owned properties, shopping centres and transportation hubs, mutually interconnected by a maze of underground tunnels and covered footbridges.
In the Mall-Densest city, where there is one mall per square mile, the Mall offers an unlimited source of opportunities to Hong Kong citizens. This is a place where people create collective memories, socialise, build a sense of community and, during the hot summer months, have a breath of fresh air.
The Mall is not only the core of Hong Kong’s retail-based economy; it is where one can find accommodation, food supplies, entertainment and the chance to interact.
We could live our entire life without ever having to leave these modern fortresses; the basic units of Hong Kong contemporary urbanism, and perhaps a glimpse into the futuristic city.
The Mall offers the same opportunities of the more traditional public square; a contemporary agora where interconnections are made but where, inevitably, it will never rain.
Pierfrancesco Celada (b. 1979) completed a PhD in Biomechanics in 2010, and has since been working on a series of long-term studies investigating contemporary living.
He has recently been selected to take part in the EPEA03 – European Photo Exhibition Award with his project ‘Milano, Fuorinovanta’, putting on exhibitions in Paris, Viareggio, Hamburg and Oslo.
Among Celada’s awards were: the Happiness ONTHEMOVE Award (2017), the Photolux Leica Award (2014), and the Ideastap and Magnum Photos Photographic Award (2011).
He interned at Magnum Photos, London in 2011 and his work has been exhibited and published internationally in publications including Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Lightbox, i-D, LaRepubblica, Vogue, Amica, D-Repubblica, and Leap.
He has been based in Hong Kong since 2014.
I created this self-portrait series to celebrate my entry into the battlefield against depression and anxiety. During a very low point in my life, when my body was filled with drugs, alcohol and powder, I randomly came across Francis Bacon’s Wikipedia page, and I started brainstorming.
Beatrice Wong is a transgender outsider artist with a lifelong struggle with mental issues. She is currently a research assistant on transgender studies, and on the side, she expresses her dilemmas in life through personal creative projects and mediums including stand-up comedy, writing, a short documentary screened at various LGBTQIA film festivals, and recently, photography. She was a WMA Open finalist and now stepping up to also being a finalist at the prestigious WMA Masters.
In an age of overwhelming, hyper-digitised, cell-phone photography, the time we spend taking photos and looking at them has dwindled to a bare minimum. Since our eyes are always on the screen, how we read an image is increasingly important. The meaning of an image doesn’t lie in the image itself, but in how the ‘reality’ and relationships between images are being interpreted and understood. Sometimes the discovery of the unintentional nuances of human nature hidden in images might require efforts of gathering, organising, and synthesising photographic information.
Since early 2014, I have been collecting criminal reportage from newspapers. The image of suspects, always hooded, during an arrest or in an investigation often appears in the reports. There is a sharp contrast between the circumstances of an arrest and the casual tees the suspects are wearing. What people wear in everyday situations, which may or may not intentionally express certain messages, creates an embarrassing tension. The symbols in these images are real; the text is real too. But when they come together, the sum is ambivalent. This is where confusion arises: our actual reality is paradoxical and invisible.
Mixed media artist Yip Kin Bon (b. 1989) was born and bred in Hong Kong. He received his BA degree from the Academy of Visual Arts, Hong Kong Baptist University in 2013. His works feature a variety of approaches that include collecting, reading, sorting and integrating, which are often presented in forms of collage. He rearranges the context of incidents, objects and time to reflect the absurdity of this world. He currently lives and works in Hong Kong.
A ray of light pierces into a withered space,
reviving scenes that will soon vanish.
In the 1950s, public phone booths were installed across Hong Kong by the British Hong Kong Government. As technological advancements have provided city-wide network coverage, the gleams of smartphone screens are seen flitting in the streets. Scattered across the city are disused phone booths that are about one square metre in size, with broken lightboxes inside.
We wrapped a disused booth in a reflective cover, and added a coin from the colonial era with a hole drilled in it, turning the booth into a pinhole darkroom. Through the inverted images inside the booth, the viewer shuttles back and forth between different landmarks before and after the handover, tracing the endlessly shifting political relationship between ‘deconstruct’ and ‘construction’ in the city.
A discarded phone booth waiting to be dismantled,
a memento of the Queen still being circulated today.
Tang Kwong San (b. 1992) was born in Dongguan, and he is currently based in Hong Kong. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art from RMIT University and the Mr. Jerry Kwan Scholarship in 2019. He explores the use of different media in his creative practice, including painting, drawing, photography and installation. Some of his artworks have been acquired by private collectors.
Yuen Nga Chi (b. 1994) was born in Hong Kong. She received a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Visual Arts from Hong Kong Baptist University in 2019. She employs photography as the main medium in her creative practice. She was shortlisted in the 6th Singapore International Photography Festival Photobook Open Call in 2018 and awarded the WMA Young Talent Award in 2019 (Graduation Exhibition of the Academy of Visual Arts, Hong Kong Baptist University).
Early this summer, a friend of mine who is a photographer met a kindred spirit online. Just as they were getting ready to meet in person, the social movement broke out in Hong Kong, and the two of them became occupied with their own lives. They made a joke that they should see each other only after at least two of the five demands were met. They began an experiment: until this goal is achieved they will only meet in a dark place. The only light source is the flash of an instant camera, as the vague impressions they had of each other from online continue in real life.
To this day, they have met in the dark several times, they each still have no idea of the other’s appearance or identity.
This photo series is the collaborative work of a photographer and an architect. Due to the anonymous nature of this project, detailed artist biographies are not available.
O’Young Moli, Julian
O’Young Moli (b. 1992) is an artist who currently works and lives in Hong Kong. Julian (b. 1988) is an architect who currently works and lives in Hong Kong.
Located in the bustling area of Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon Park is secretly known as a cruising spot for gay men wander who look for casual sex. The project observes Kowloon Park as a public space for recreation, as well as a ‘stereotopia’ – a place where for a marginalised group to escape from social norms. Gay men look for fun here like animals chasing after lights. But what are they really after?
Liao Jiaming (b. 1992) was born in Guangdong. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Sun Yat-sen University in 2016, and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Media from City University of Hong Kong in 2019. He lives and works in Hong Kong. By using images as the main medium of his creative practice, he questions the relationships and connections between reality and virtuality. He is interested in the topics of urban life, minority groups and living space. Liaoʼs works have been exhibited or screened in London, Zurich, and Shanghai, among other cities.
BURNT is a photo diary recording the recent social unrest of Hong Kong. All photos were taken using only the first frame of the roll (the frame prior to the camera hitting zero on the frame counter), on a 35mm film camera.
Of these ongoing anti-government protests, one incident caught my attention in particular—a photo of a girl who was shot in the eye during a clash between the protestors and the police in the streets. The vivid image of her injury reveals a partial truth—it shows the result, but not the cause. No one can follow or digest the plethora of news that is being circulated. No one can tell if the news is showing the whole truth, or if it is a collage of fictions.
The making of these photos was both mechanical and chemical. When a roll of film is being loaded into the camera, the first few inches of the film are exposed to light, and consequently they cannot capture a distinct image. For this reason, many photographers discard the first photo taken with a roll of film. However, I like the dynamic of having a scar-like line dividing the photo into two parts, making the image partly seen and partly unseen. It presents only a partial picture, echoing the ambiguities in reality.
Wong Wei-him (b. 1975) was born in Vancouver, Canada. He received a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from McGill University in 1999 and a Master of Architecture from the University of Hong Kong in 2001. In 2010, he established In-between Architects Ltd., a design studio based in Hong Kong. He is an architect and street photographer.
He writes: “At first, I used my camera to capture peculiar spaces and intricate design detail to use as inspirations for my design projects. Over time, I have developed the habit of bringing my camera with me wherever I go. When I see something that intrigues or touches me, I photograph it.
When I came across the work of Magnum photographer Elliott Erwitt and Japanese street photographer Shin Noguchi, I was inspired by the portrayal of culture and humanity in their photography. It was then that I decided to take up street photography, and photography has been one of my passions ever since.”
Laws of Hong Kong, Cap. 503 Fugitive Offenders Ordinance
In 2019, the anti-extradition law movement erupted in Hong Kong. Life is now filled with feelings of hopelessness, anger and hatred, as we are confounded by graphic images from the news, day after day.
I am constantly confused by this inescapable reality. Using everyday objects, I reconstruct moments and scenes of the movement, which create a sense of security within myself.
Half of the images evokes anger and fear. The mundane is now unrecognisable, dehumanising and violent.
Yet the light among us has illuminated new meanings and values for our city – the Space Museum lit up by laser beams, the Hong Kong Way, and the Lion Rock which used to be a twisted symbol of the materialistic Hong Kong spirit but has now come to possess a new identity. It is heartening to see that materialism is no longer the only totem for Hongkongers.
Glory to Hong Kong.
Caleb Samuel Fung (b. 1994) is a freelance photographer born and based in Hong Kong. He graduated from the Academy of Visual Arts of the Hong Kong Baptist University with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Visual Arts. His works mainly originate from his background and the environment, exploring humanity and the nature of life.
Caleb Fung was one of the winners of the 2018 WMA Open Photo Contest. His works were featured in an exhibition at WMA Space in 2019.
I lived in Hong Kong until I was 11 years old, when my mother sent me to a boarding school in a small town in Northern Ireland. She had no idea how far it was from Hong Kong until 3 years later she came to visit. When she arrived at the school gate after 15 hours on a plane and 3 hours by train, she cried. She blamed herself for sending me so far. Later in my life I had 2 spinal surgeries. She sees my scar but she has no idea how much pain I feel, just like she could not imagine distance until she experienced it.
Irving Cheung is currently studying Master of Fine Art in the RMIT University in Hong Kong. She has been working in the film industry as an art director for over 10 years, she was nominated for the best art director for the movie Rigor Mortis in 2014 Hong Kong Film Awards. Irving returned to Hong Kong after studying in Northern Ireland, London and Berlin in 2005 when she graduated in Chelsea College of Art in London for a Fine Art Degree. She is also a founder of an art direction company “Everyone is lost until they are found”.
The words “In” and “Out” are always put in binary opposition. Are you in or are you out? In or out? Are you coming into my body or out of my body? Yet between “In” and “Out”, there is a third space in the middle, shared by the two poles. Partially visible and partially exposed, this “In & Out” place offers me the possibilities to explore sexuality.
Through the “In & Out” project, I want to give a voice to lesbians and let them explore their fantasies with their gestures. For the past few months, I interviewed over forty self-identified lesbians about their sexuality, ranging from 20 to 60 years old. Given minimal instructions, they imagined their partners’ bodies and restaged how they have sex with the other females using their hands.
This act of exposure is personal and political. On the one hand, each photograph is a unique portrait that reveals each lesbian’s sexual desire. On the other hand, the phallus-like gestures act as a space that subverts the patriarchal hierarchy.
Under the rule of the British administration, Hong Kong once had an ordinance prohibiting male-to-male anal sex, which involves the insertion of the penis. Penis insertion is such a strong factor to determine if one engaged in sexual intercourse. Nowadays, male homosexual activity has been decriminalized in Hong Kong and in China, yet lesbian visibility still comes into question.
I began to trace to the history and questioned the so-called definition of sex when defined as penis insertion. My investigation centered around this question: So how do two females have sex? The In & Out project unfolds this question.
Through abstracting their performance of sexual activity from an intimate private space to a public space, the question of lesbian sexuality and visibility is brought to light. With the act of exposing this intimate gesture through photography, the performers become a community whose participation in this project helps to recontextualize lesbian sex.
Ho Yan Pun Nicole is a Hong Kong artist using photography, video and performance to explore queer identity and desire. Her work involves collaborations with strangers. She is a curious person so she reveals hers or others’ darkest secrets through her lens.
She received her MFA from California Institute of the Arts in 2014. Her work has been exhibited in Circus Gallery in Los Angeles; Avenue 50 Studio in Los Angeles; SOMArts Cultural Center in San Francisco; McGroarty Arts Center in Tujunga and JCCAC in Hong Kong.