French photographer Thien-Ty Ly has shared with HKFP his Chinese photography series Live in Alley.
Ly was born in Hà Tiên – a small town in the Vietnamese province of Kiên Giang – and is of Chinese descent. He grew up in France and previously lived in China before settling in Hong Kong.
Live in Alley provides an intimate glimpse into local Chinese communities.
Ly told HKFP that the series aims “to capture spontaneity” within the communities.
The series captures “hutong,” narrow alleys in Beijing, “lilong,” long lanes connecting terraced houses in Shanghai, “tongli,” canals in Jiangsu, and Xiguan – a historic area in Guangzhou.
Ly – a practising architect – told HKFP that photography reminds him of the many qualities of architecture that touch the heart.
Ly told HKFP that he is interested in photography that combines social commentary with an individual artistic style; landscapes that indicate history, while also hinting at “a future yet to come.”
Ly told HKFP: “‘Live in Alley’ is aimed at captur[ing] the atmosphere, lifestyle and community of one of the most iconic architectural urban fabrics in China.”
“This series [is] intended above all as a testament to a traditional past, a non-city dwellers neighbourhood atmosphere, and a place of remembrance,” he told HKFP.
Ly said that he believes the nostalgic alleys are being demolished to make way for metropolises.
“Community living will be redefined with the rapid development of modern China…” he said.
“Houses mainly [house] working class people, [who are] materialistically defined as poor. The living condition of the past by today’s standard is known to be tightly spaced, unsanitary and deprived of basic resources,” Ly told HKFP.
“Walking through the alleys, the feeling of friendliness and happiness of the community shines above all, the place gives a strong sense of community.”
“Amongst the advancement of the country, the [improvement] of community living remains a huge leap and affects people at different levels,” he added.
Visit Ly’s website here. Follow him on Instagram here.