Hong Kong’s recently-opened Galerie artellex is hosting an exhibition this month featuring selected works by local veteran photojournalist Wong Kan-tai.
The Diana & The Queen’s photo exhibition opened at the beginning of March at the small-scale gallery space based in Lai Chi Kok, which focuses on photography and illustrative arts. Pieces on display were curated from Wong’s latest photobook Diana Hong Kong 2014 released last December and another collection, The Queen’s, published in 2017.
The well-respected documentary photographer began his career as a breaking news journalist in the late 1970s and studied photography in Tokyo, Japan, in the early 1980s.
Wong’s most recent colour album showcases photos he took around Hong Kong with the locally made plastic toy camera Diana in 2014. He documented the events surrounding the unprecedented political turmoil in Hong Kong that year, when the Umbrella Movement broke out as thousands of Hongkongers demanded electoral reforms to achieve universal suffrage in the city.
Roads around the legislature and two other main districts were occupied for 79 days as part of a civil disobedience campaign originally conceived as “Occupy Central.” Leading figures of the largely peaceful movement were jailed in the years after police clearance.
“The breeze is faithful, and I think of you. It’s been eight years since we parted on the street. I hope this message sent from the top of Lion Rock mountain can still reach you. Perhaps, like a ray of light shooting into the sky, it will never get a reply,” the photographer wrote for the exhibition.
Another statement by the artist read: “Over the years, whenever I pass by the street where I used to be with you, the memories of that day occasionally come to mind. Time seems to have disappeared, but the scar of the memories keeps growing. Everything seems like thousands of glowing lights from every home, making people feel lost and confused. Kasa, I’m still fine, the situation is like my tired body leaning against the rock, immersed in the coolness of the Mid-Autumn night. I wish time could stop at this moment…”
The Queen’s, on the other hand, assembled black and white photos Wong shot in Hong Kong and Macau between 1977 and 2009, covering the years when the cities were under British and Portuguese colonial rule, respectively.
Scenes from Hong Kong included the infamous Kowloon Walled City, as well as Queen Elizabeth’s visit to the city.
Wong wrote a poem for the photos chosen from this collection in the exhibition:
The old film still emits the smell of fixer chemical,
It is the clumsiness of youth, as well as the traces of the hurried career of a photojournalist.”
“From the overwhelmed sea of Vietnamese refugees’ boats in Green Island waterway in the seventies,
To the sounding of HMS Tamar’s retreat in 1997……
“When Kan-tai first picked up the camera to take pictures, it was purely for the needs of a photojournalist. Over the years, the monochrome photos he took were also naturally composed with different motives and journeys,” the gallery said in a statement.
Wong’s other published works included 89′ Tiananmen, Hong Kong Walled City 2002~2007, Vajrayana, The Queen’s, Fukushima, Secret 1842~1997, Xinjiang 1980 and Bardo Hong Kong 2019. Some of his photos are in the Hong Kong Heritage Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art collections.
Exhibition: Diana & The Queen’s
Venue: Galerie artellex, Unit 204A, 2/F, Sun Cheong Industrial Building, 2-4 Cheung Yee Street, Kowloon (entrance on Cheung Shun Street)
Time: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, closed Mondays, until March 31
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