All About Hong Kong photography exhibit opens

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 August, 2013, 6:45pm

All About Hong Kong

AO Vertical Art Space

Ten photographers are featured in this exhibition, which runs through the quiet summer months. What makes this show so significant is it features KC Kwan's view of the city, and also shows Michael Wolf's latest set of photographic investigations into Hong Kong's streetscape.

KC Kwan, a 36-year-old printing factory worker, only took up photography three years ago. Initially, he followed the "how to" tips in an introductory guide to photography, but found his resulting flower studies - understandably - boring.

Kwan's photographs are a brave update of the city's urban trauma

After discovering more stimulating styles, Kwan found the gritty expressionism of Japanese photography appealing, particularly the work of Daido Moriyama.

Launched during this exhibition and sponsored by the gallery, Kwan's photobook Homebound, with its full-bleed grainy high-contrast black and white shots, such as Untitled, feels like Moriyama. Kwan explores late-night Mong Kok, Kwun Tong and Sham Shui Po, and depicts their rubbish-strewn back alleys, crouching cats, staring dogs, street prostitutes and sinewy night labourers.

Kwan's photographs are a brave update of the city's urban trauma and the show builds on the work of Alfred Ko Chi-keung (also in this exhibition), Ducky Tse Chi-tak, as well as Lei Jih-sheng and John Fung Kin-chung's photographs from the 1970s.

In contrast, the balanced form and gentility of Ho Fan's photographs is too close to the requirements of the salon competitions for which many of his works were submitted.

Although beautifully executed, Ho's vision is almost too tailored for a '50s equivalent of an "Our Home" government campaign.

Michael Wolf's latest book Small God, Big City documents the Earth God shrines found at the entrances to homes and businesses. These delicate small-scale spaces and their humble offerings to another world and deities are suitably photographed in a no-nonsense way.

Wolf's images depict the purity, form and purpose of these shrines while allowing the context of the street's surrounding flotsam to show their local personality.

Almond Chu's Parade series reflects on Hongkongers' perceived propensity to "follow the leader" and their inability to express a strong opinion.

This may sometimes be true in personal situations, but it is not so in public displays of disenchantment.

Hong Kong has one of the world's highest rates of public street demonstrations and a cherished freedom of expression that is fully exercised by residents.

Chu's photographs depict multiple repeated images of the photographer in different parade marching formations.

These images reflect the conformist demands of a controlling state on individuals, rather than a widespread Hong Kong trait.

The exhibition also offers different depictions of Hong Kong's high-rise buildings and skyline. The show runs until September 14.