German photographer Michael Wolf has a brilliant eye for quirky details which he delightfully (and obsessively) catalogs into subsets, and then groups them together as unlikely typologies of ephemeral urban phenomena.

His typologies are more in the spirit of Ed Ruscha rather than the Bechers — and, in this case, they’re oddball urban scenes he has encountered in Hong Kong over the past 20 years.

Gathered together in his wonderful gem of a book, Hong Kong Trilogy, we have:

  • Lost Laundry that must have fallen from a window in a high-rise but got stuck on scaffolding, telephone wires, trees, or a giant neon sign (or flapping on a vacant flagpole)

  • Workers’ Gloves set out carefully in the back alleyways of Hong Kong to dry in time for tomorrow’s work

  • String Mops, also set outside to dry, but arrayed as if they were animated and about to leap into a sorcerer’s dance, as in a modern day version of Disney’s Fantasia

  • Bits of Wire and Colorful Plastic Binding Straps, bundled and saved for re-use for something, tucked carefully along a row of outdoor plumbing pipes

  • And my favorite, the Bastard Chairs series — chairs that have been salvaged and repaired so many times they look like Frankenstein designs — so ugly (but functional) that they can be left outside without fear of being stolen. (Ah, that’s a good use of the bits of wire and plastic straps…)

After spending time with this book, it’s impossible not to notice similar quirky patterns in your own neighborhood — but it’s not so easy to frame this flotsam as artfully as Wolf does. I assure you, however, that your eyes will be activated to spot this stuff and appreciate its temporary beauty.

— Jim Casper

Hong Kong Trilogy
Michael Wolf
152 pages, 104 color images
Clothbound with tipped in image
Edition of 400
Published by Peperoni Books
ISBN: 978-3-941825-59-8