The Rest of Us

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 December, 2009, 12:00am

The Rest of Us
Today-Dec 24

Does the way you dress communicate something about you? Not necessary, says photographer Andrew Guthrie, who in the past six months has asked 'ordinary citizens' around the city to pose in front of a camera for a project that partly looks at how people behave in their casual wear.

The visual exhibition is part of an international symposium being held this week at the City University that explores the 'motivations and mysteries behind dressing up in everyday clothing and spectacular costume'.

About 60 images taken by Guthrie will go on show at Videotage today in the exhibition, The Rest of Us.

'Conceptually the show explores what is dressing up and when is it a fantasy,' says the photographer. 'Whatever you wear you are projecting something about yourself, what you want to be and how you want people to [perceive you] and we definitely saw that.

'But sometimes their personality doesn't go at all with what they are dressed like. [For example,] someone would be wearing something very flamboyant and yet didn't want to be photographed,' he says.

The idea behind The Rest of Us is to provide a contrast to the so-called 'cosplayers' who dress up as characters in Japanese comic books (manga), cartoons (anime) and video games through images of 'regular, everyday people'.

With help from collaborators William Fung, Joanne Chow and Rock Leung, the team picked people off the street at random and photographed them against a mobile studio background. The original idea was to then isolate, or cut out, the images and have them printed on an actual body-sized banner.

'When we looked at photos that had been isolated and ones you could see the backdrop, that became interesting because [with the latter] you could see [other] information around them,' says Guthrie, adding the project is a historical survey of the way people are dressed in Hong Kong in 2009.

'Once [the subjects] stepped onto that backdrop, it became like a stage, people posed and acted a little differently because we used that backdrop, but on the other hand they are right in their environment, you see that little bit of information around them.'

The Hong Kong Art School teacher says he had no preconceived notion of what he was looking for when picking his subjects. 'We let it play out by itself, but we tried to get a broad demographic so it wasn't just one type of person.'

Guthrie says The Rest of Us is more than just a photo project as it shows how local people react to requests from total strangers. 'We got all kinds of reaction. How they reacted was very different from person to person. More than once, people asked us if we were missionaries because they just had no reference to what we were doing, taking pictures like this.

'You just never knew what [a person's] reaction would be. It was a surprise when someone would agree [to have their photograph taken] right away.'

Cattle Depot Artist Village, 63 Ma Tau Kok Rd, Kowloon. Opens 6pm today, then daily, noon-7pm. Inquiries: 2573 1869