An upcoming duo exhibition, titled RECONSTRUCT, features Alexis Ip‘s scenes of nostalgic street vendors, juxtaposed with Stefan Irvine‘s scientifically accurate panoramas of the disappearing tong laus.
The exhibition will be held from August 9 to September 15, at Blue Lotus Gallery at 28 Pound Lane, Sheung Wan.
Stefan Irvine’s work focuses predominantly on Hong Kong’s Chinese “shophouse” buildings – a type of tenement architecture at one time popular throughout southern China for both residential and commercial use.
Irvine often makes several trips to each location, painstakingly capturing the entire facade of the buildings at precise intervals and distances.
In collaboration with digital artist Jörg Dietrich, the images are digitally merged and manipulated into one expansive, seamless image, creating a singular visualisation of an entire city block.
This stitched perspective allows the viewer to experience the life of a whole street with greater detail and more information than can be achieved in one single shot.
Several of the blocks showcased in the series, including Shanghai Street’s listed shophouses, have been earmarked for demolition or significant redevelopment by Hong Kong’s Urban Renewal Authority.
Ip’s renditions of street scenes and vendors reflect his childhood memories of growing up around Kowloon City. Through his collages he reorganises his photographs back to its original three dimensional state, highlighting the quirky and creative aspects to how street vendors display their products.
The technique itself points at the innumerable details and layers that exist in the real life scenes by cutting each one out.
“Normally we see everything three-dimensionally but in photography everything is turned two dimensional,” Ip said. “What is so special about my works is the two dimensional is turned back into three dimensional though many layers.”
“As a result the most ordinary street scenes like a vegetable or fruit vendor which people hardly pay attention to become magical.”
Blue Lotus Gallery said that both artists tell stories of Hong Kong’s rich heritage by responding to its disappearing architecture and street culture.
“Art imitates life and RECONSTRUCT shows two artists who creatively reorganise reality in order for us to see it more clearly, and in effect better remember, cherish and learn from it,” said a gallery representative.