Two Recent Photo Exhibits in Hong Kong

The trend of increasingly high quality photo exhibitions in Hong Kong continues with these two new shows. The first set of photos are from Vincent Yu’s Hiroshima vs Japan 311 (Soliloquize) at Jockey Club Creative Arts Center. It’s a touching tribute to the twin nuclear atrocities of WWII and more recently the 311 Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Departing from his usual photo journalist practice of using a Canon 5D MKIII, all the photos here were taken with the Hipstamatic app on an iPhone. According to Vincent his carefully composed images were actually taken very rapidly. Also unique to this exhibition is the handmade spot lighting which was completed in the early morning hours on opening day. Whereas the photos from Hiroshima are shown as prints the 311 photos are shown in video slide show format. The pace of the slide show is brisk mimicking Vincent’s working method.

The second exhibit is Daido Moriyama’s Searching Journeys show at Simon Lee Gallery. In contrast to Japan 311, Searching Journeys is in a big ambient light filled space. Most of the works on display are large prints from black and white film negatives arranged into two massive walls. These photos show normal everyday life in Japan free from any reference to war or disasters. It’s Daido street photography at it’s best. There are a few rare colour photographs also shown but they are dwarfed by the much larger and more well known B&Ws. Being in the gallery surrounded by these large prints is like being inside Daido’s recent photobook Labyrinth. Here you have the luxury of walking right up close to the print and staring at the photo grain if that is your kind of thing.

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“Rasen Kaigan” by Lieko Shiga published by AKAAKA Art Publishing

“Rasen Kaigan” was included in many best of 2013 photobooks lists and rightly so – it is a stunning book. The photos taken are of the Kitakama region of Japan which was worst hit by the 2011 tsunami. Leiko Shiga is the resident photographer for the area and also recorder of its oral history.

The first few images of the book set the tone of other worldliness. High contrast shot of an extraterrestrial rock and martian sunset or dawn. You’re unsure as to whether you are on a different planet or some parallel universe. The landscape is familiar but altered in some way like the photographs themselves. An alien fish eye stares at you as you move through the images.

You pick up clues along the way that it has something to do with the passing of time. Images of tree rings are juxtaposed with images of youth and age. The flow is interrupted two thirds of the way through by a double black page spread. We are back at the beginning with images of an excavation site, antique photographs and another series of high contrast rocks. The eye of an old woman stares at you.

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