With Two Cameras, Almond Chu Captures City's Muffled Angst
Landscapes replace nudes in "Silent Shouts."
Photographer Almond Chu, who’s best known for his nude studio portraits, is bringing works from his “Parade” series into a single show for the first time in “Silent Shouts,” a joint exhibition with Nick Gleitzman and Denis Darzacq at La Galerie.
He tells Adrienne Chum about his changing perceptions of Hong Kong, the symbolism of his works and his craft.
HK Magazine: How did this series begin?
Almond Chu: About 12 years ago I had a project with the Hong Kong Heritage Museum and I created my first image, “Parade 1.” At the time, the idea was that I’d have a very wide shot of the scenery and have a tiny person in it. But after I did it, I realized that I couldn’t see [the person]. So I had an idea: I could take that person, and multiply him several hundred times. But after I tried that, I realized that it now had a different message, that it appeared to have very many people, but they were all the same. It was like a person mindlessly following society, without a sense of self, without any personal desires or dreams. The more I made these photos, the more layers of meanings I found in them.
HK: From nude portraits to large scale landscapes—how come?
AC: In 2003 I did a residency in Germany, and a lot of artists there influenced the way I saw things, so I began trying to learn more about where I lived. I noticed that Hong Kong was like Michael Wolf’s photographs: very repetitive. The people are very repetitive. It’s peculiar how Hongkongers in general are afraid to show themselves off, and want to blend in with their groups or communities. So I wanted to show that in these instances, the individual exists, but individuality disappears.
Chu's "Parade 3."
HK: How do you create so many copies of the same person?
AC: When I take the photo, there are two parts. The first part involves taking a photo of the scene with a large camera. Then, I use a smaller camera to photograph the person. I take continuous shots of the person walking and then choose the photos when I do the retouching. The most important thing is to make sure that the movements are natural and in the right space. I don’t use a green screen because I want the lighting and environment to match the scene.
HK: You have one work in “Parade” related to Occupy Central. Are you starting to get political?
AC: No, it’s just that one work. I was going to do two, but after finishing one, I decided it was enough. I felt that it was very important to create something about Occupy, because it was the one time the world noticed Hong Kong; otherwise, with the exception of the 1997 Handover, nobody really cared. And since Occupy ran for 79 days, there are 79 versions of me in the image.
Check out “Silent Shouts” through Oct 14 at La Galerie, G/F, 74 Hollywood Rd., Central, 2540-4777, www.lagalerie.hk.