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  • Dec 20, 2014
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Arts preview: 'Mother Russia' photography exhibition

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 January, 2013, 6:48pm

Mother Russia
The Salt Yard

With soaring rents and a general indifference to the arts, this city is not the friendliest place to run an independent art space. However, that has not stopped three photo enthusiasts from setting up their own exhibition gallery to showcase edgier photography from around the world.

"It definitely wasn't an overnight decision … we've been planning [this space] for about a year," says Dustin Shum Wan-yat, who co-founded The Salt Yard in Kwun Tong with fellow photographers Ma Hei-lit and Gary Ng Ka-wa.

The 41-year-old Shum says while "big names" such as Andreas Gursky are now being shown in this city, thanks to the proliferation of major international art galleries and fairs in Hong Kong over the past couple of years, lesser-known yet noteworthy photographers have not had much exposure here.

Their new space will give people who appreciate photography "another choice", Shum says.

The Salt Yard is a 1,000-sq ft venue that doubles as the photographers' studio. Shum says the gallery is non-profit-making and the plan is to hold five exhibitions a year. Its inaugural show, "Mother Russia", features female Russian portrait photographers Olga Chagoutidinova, Anastasia Khoroshilova and Alla Esipovich, and is curated by Steve Bisson.

"I think this show is about beauty," says Bisson, art director of the Asolo Art Film Festival in Italy. "What is beauty? What are the canons of contemporary beauty? As we know from reading the history of art, its representation changes in relation to its time, to the states and moods of society. The exhibition addresses the issue by comparing a group of emerging Russian photographers."

Shum, a former South China Morning Post photographer, says he has always been interested in documentary photography. "You should be able to see ideas and the way people live in the works. Today, photography is more self-centred … it's more about self expression than reflecting the social environment. [Phone camera app] Instagram is all about being personal."

Bucking this latest trend, "Mother Russia" is an attempt to reflect the images of Russian women from different social perspectives, giving viewers a glimpse of the "mysterious and ever-changing Eurasia country", says Shum.

"Their images are interesting aesthetically, but they also illustrate the Russian way of life and what these subjects are thinking. These kinds of works you don't really see in the commercial galleries."

B1, 4/F Jone Mult Industrial Bldg, 169 Wai Yip Street, Kwun Tong, Thu-Sun, noon-7pm (closed on public holidays). Inquiries: 3563 8003 or info@thesaltyard.hk. The exhibition is on from Jan 19 to Mar 24

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