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The overwhelming majority of the population of this small town spends the day dismantling outdated electronics in illegal workshops, usually located in the basement of their homes.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.
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.
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).
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).
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.