Portrait of Hong Kong
collaborative portrait project that memorializes Hong Kongers struggle for an identity while highlighting the social issues that face the city’s inhabitants during the popular anti-government movement. Individually the portraits and text may tell a simple story about daily life or address larger issues such as universal suffrage or inequality, but as a whole they tell a nuanced story about Hong Kong and her people.
A central issue many of the Hong Kong people in my portraits are wrestling with is how to define an identity and being challenged in that pursuit by cultural, social, or political pressure. There is a lot of frustration and anger over the recent attempted implementation of an extradition law allowing people in Hong Kong to be tried in mainland China, and over alleged police brutality during subsequent protests. This is apparent in one particular portrait where a subject posed with a gun to their head. Some artist-participants express frustration over familial pressure to conform to parental expectations in their professional lives. Some participants worry Hong Kong’s aesthetic is changing and housing is unaffordable. Others say they are troubled by Hong Kong’s materialism. What’s not expressed in the portraits but important to mention is that self-censorship is already affecting some artists I’ve met whose livelihoods rely on mainland China.
The process for making the photos is a collaboration. I suggest that people consider what they want to say about their lives and select a place significant to them as the setting for the portrait. I scout the location and attempt to create an image there that reflects the character of the person and the idea they want to communicate so that the text and the photograph work off of each other to enhance the final piece. The final step includes making the print in my studio and meeting with the participants so they can add their text to the print.