Hong Kong International Photo Festival 2021: Photography Cinema

Venue: Louis Koo Cinema, Hong Kong Arts Centre  
Date: 2021.10.26 - 2021.10.27
Price: Admission is free. 
Screening Schedule:
26/10 (Tue) 8pm Programme 1: Cubicle *
27/10 (Wed) 7:45pm Programme 2: Transmedia Narratives*
*With after-screening discussion
Admission is free. Further details will be announced in due course.

Hong Kong International Photo Festival 2021: Photography Cinema
‘Moving still’, ‘still moving’, and everything in between

In previous editions of HKIPF, the elaborate exhibition production process of artwork framing, transportation, display, insurance, and administration needed significant time and resources. This year, we have elected to channel our resources into exploring the multitude forms, concepts and narrativity of images. We reached out to six neighbours and invited them on as Curatorial Partners to introduce recent works in the region and gather new starting points for contemplating the mutual transformative influences photography and our modes of living have on each other; for etching out and reflecting on the minute details of a multifaceted contemporary society.

From HKIPF, we have also invited Chang Chien-chi, Wing Shya, and Chan Hau-chun to join this ensemble as image makers in focus. Premiering at Hong Kong Arts Centre are the two following programmes:
Programme 1
Image makers in Focus - Chan Hau-chun: Keeping an eye on the living conditions of the oppressed
From 300 FAMILIES, the photography exhibition on homeless people living in Sham Shui Po at the 2013 HKIPF, to her recent involvement in cinema, Chan Hau-chun has continued to care and return attention to the living conditions of grassroot citizens in Hong Kong. Her newest work Cubicle makes use of steady long takes to document residents of subdivided flats that share one floor in a building in Cheung Sha Wan. Throughout the social movement in Hong Kong and in coping with the global pandemic, the seemingly mundane everyday lives of these residents are in fact full of underlying tension...
Director: Chan Hau-chun
Hong Kong | 2021 | 60’ | In Cantonese and Putonghua with Chinese and English subtitles | Colour

26/10 (Tue) 8pm *
*Director Chan Hau-chun will attend after-screening talk. (conducted in Cantonese)

In an old part of Hong Kong lies an old building, and within it countless little rooms. Demarcated merely by wooden panels, each room houses one family: a subdivided flat, with shared toilet-kitchens, sultry, impermeable, where hundreds live.

The film weaves together images taken over the last few years, documenting residents of subdivided flats within one building. After the social movement in Hong Kong and in coping with the global pandemic, the seemingly mundane everyday lives of these residents are in fact full of underlying tension. Within the cramped and rundown building, some people move out after just half a month, some stay for thirty years; some have grown up here, some have passed away in the rooms... What does our society look like when seen through these steady long takes?

Chan Hau-chun
Chan Hau-chun is currently working as an independent film and image maker. She produces both photography and videography; her works include Under the bridge, 32+4, Uncle Fai, Call me Mrs Chan, No song to sing, and along the bridge/searching for a man.

Programme 2
Transmedia Narratives
Taiwan | 72’ | Colour

27/10 (Wed) 7:45pm*
*With after-screening talk. (conducted in Cantonese/Putonghua)

Transmedia Narratives
Text/Curatorial Partner: Lightbox Photo Library

Against an evolving constellation of creative media in the post-media age, it has become near impossible for us to examine contemporary photographic practices while adhering to the definitions of traditional art history, photography theories from the era of mechanical reproduction, or modernist notions of medium. Singularly, the dematerialisation of art and the confluence of different media is being accelerated by technology and the internet. If we move beyond the conception of photography as static image and cross over into transmedia, it may guide us to unearth new possibilities in creative practices, new aesthetic perceptions, and new narrative potential in photography, conceiving and reconceiving it in diverse formats.

This also brings us to the problematics that arise from the shift from photography to transmedia storytelling or the kinetic energy of ‘expanded photography’: “This is no longer photography. What has it become?” It prompts us to rethink and reshape relationships between photography and different forms of image, including film, video and animation. The question of how the convergence between photography and moving image may be contextualised is indeed worth investigating.

On the other hand, transmedia is not just a tactic in the times of pandemic, but an exploration into the vitality of photography that resists definition. It illuminates the dialectical tensions between ‘stillness and movement’, ‘narrative and non-narrative’, ‘personal and historical’, and ‘archive and art’ that are inherent in photography discourse.

Beyond the quest for new interpretations, the five works selected for this showcase mark an attempt to return to the chaos, ambiguity and ambivalence of photography before the art became institutionalised. Meanwhile, these photographic transfigurations offer a different kind of opening for us to intervene in grand historical narratives.

The five artists engage in disciplines spanning photography, video and film, while their subjects include observations of everyday culture, reflections on personal memories and life histories, and reinterpretations of archival images. Their works embody the ‘in-betweenness’ of photography, and present new beginnings for the viewer to reimagine and rethink visual narratives.

Established in 2016, Lightbox Photo Library expands upon the free, open and public nature of both photography and library, as it undertakes the work of collecting and organising publications of Taiwanese photography. It strives to create a positive cycle of cultural autonomy, knowledge equity, and resource-sharing.

Wearing Red
Director: Sera Chen
Taiwan | 2019 | 17’ | In Putonghua, Japanese and English with Chinese and English subtitles | Colour

In Wearing Red, three performers hold up the same photograph and describe a memory of it in their first languages and with gestures. The performers are from China, Japan, and the United States, three countries that each have complicated relations with Taiwan, historically and politically. Before making the video, I told the performers about the memory of the photo (which was recounted by my mother). I then let them improvise in their own ways in front of the camera to retell the story. I also asked them to combine their own childhood memory with mine in their retellings, therefore creating a fictional story. I wore red as I did in the photo, walking back and forth through the space held up by the screens of the three-channel video. In it, I was the only person who was silent and unable to speak for myself, despite being the real owner of the photograph.

Wearing Red explores the functionality of memory and examines the legitimacy of cross-cultural representation. The video also investigates the shifting boundaries of identification by exposing the gap between what we are watching and how we are identifying with it.

Sera Chen
Sera Chen mainly works with video, photography, and new media. Her work focuses on urban observation and cultural identification while probing the invisible and unstable relationship between the human, the environmental, and the social. By interweaving non-linear narrative and mixed media, she explores the heterogeneity between fiction and non-fiction, and attempts to construct possible perceptual space and a speculative field beyond the mere visual.

Exhausted Picture
Director: Huang Kuo-heng
Taiwan | 2018 | 6’ 13’’ | No dialogue and subtitles | Colour
Exhausted Picture compiles photographs taken during the artist’s trips to different places over the years into a sequence based on a loose story structure. The changing view in the windows evokes a fictional adventure that ends in chaos and nothingness.

Huang Kuo-heng
Huang Kuo-heng is a visual artist currently based in Brooklyn, New York. A graduate from the Pratt Institute MFA Programme, he works as a commercial photographer and photography instructor alongside his personal creative work. Huang works across multiple media, including videos and installations, developing photographic images according to the concepts of each work. In addition to personal artworks, he also collaborates with choreographers to create dance films and visual expressions, including Inside (2020) and Metamorphosis (2019).

Raw Soul
Director: Yehlin Lee
Taiwan | 2019 | 8’ | No dialogue and subtitles | Colour
Taiwan. Thrust into being by plate tectonics millions of years ago, this island is like a blade of grass emerging from a crack in a stone. For centuries, various cultures arrived, and departed, wiping away the remnant memories of those who came before and engraving traces of their own desires. Today, this land has become an urban landscape of inhabitants disquieted by a myriad of daily pressures.

What draws me in are these pressurized, undefinable transition zones where change and replacement occur, as daylight sets on the fringes of urban development. Competing forces seem to be hidden behind the chaos of people, objects, and landscapes: the sacred and secular, hope and despair, decline and renewal.

Substantive yet apparently empty, half-dead yet also half-alive, these states of life often confound me. Is this a manifestation of meaning in the world, or an external projection of my own inner self? I remain silent, waiting for the background noise in my heart to dissipate, to perceive the world without intention in an attempt to penetrate the margins of the Taiwanese collective consciousness. That elusive Taiwanese essence may well be concealed within the chaos and confusion.

I savour this confusion in darkness until the moment I hear the reverberation in my heart, and press the shutter.

Yehlin Lee
Yehlin Lee has devoted himself to sound art since 2001. In 2011, he started to take photographs by self-learning. Photography to him is a practice to approach his original perception. He tries to be aware of the habitual way of looking and tries to go beyond it. His photography and sound works have been exhibited in Europe, North America, and Asia. His first photobook Raw Soul was published in Kyoto, by AKAAKA, in 2017.

Firearms, Skulls, and Bones
Director: Liang Ting-yu
Taiwan | 2021 | 12’ 50’’ | In Japanese with Chinese and English subtitles | Colour

The video work Firearms, Skulls, and Bones reexamines colonial images in an attempt to break free from the visual language and textual descriptions of the colonisers and return to a more life-centered and affective reading approach. The project departs from the deplorable act of Japanese anthropologists Mori Ushinosuke and Torii Ryūzō, who stole bones from Taiwan’s indigenous tribes in the 1900s. It connects their bone-collecting fetish and their barbarisation of indigenous headhunting practices through image manipulation, using close-ups of indigenous skulls obtained by Japanese troops in their mountain warfare against the tribes during the colonial period (1895–1945). Looking into the process of obtaining, transporting, measuring, archiving and specimenising skulls and bones, which served as a ‘production line’ for Japanese research into Taiwan’s indigenous peoples, the project rethinks the connections between militaristic governance and the production of anthropological knowledge.

Liang Ting-yu
Liang Ting-yu's practice focuses on integrating regional investigations and studies with project-based art actions and mixed media art. He examines issues related to historical archives and ethnic relations, and has recently expanded into exploring archives, local myths and legends. Liang works with language, still and moving imagery, and local ghost stories, to create art that looks into relationships between ghosts and topography.

Director: Wang Hsiang-lin
Taiwan | 2020 | 10’ | No dialogue and subtitles | Colour
Invisibility draws upon a childhood memory, reconstructing a strange encounter with space-time misplacement on a trip with Wang’s parents to the seashore and questioning memory, imagination and reality. A long take witnesses the burning of a triangular installation by the sea. Over time, as the foreground (the installation) fades away, the background (the sea) emerges to engulf the frame, simultaneously revealing the imperceptible transformations under way.

Wang Hsiang-lin
After receiving her Master’s Degree in Music Performance from the City University of New York, Wang Hsiang-lin received photography training at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York. Working predominantly with images, most of her artwork is related to her personal experiences, examining the relationship between oneself and the world through her own connection with her external environment. She is recently revisiting the concept of cryptomnesia, exploring the uncertainties with time and space, seeking to explore different ways of seeing by departing from images embedded in her memory.
Co-presented by Hong Kong International Photo Festival & Hong Kong Arts Centre

Photo credit:
Chan Hau-chun 《Cubicle》|Hong Kong|60’|2021
Sera Chen 《Wearing Red》|Taiwan|Lightbox Photo Library|17’|2019
Huang Kuo-heng 《Exhausted Picture》|Taiwan|Lightbox Photo Library|6’ 13’’|2018
Yehlin Lee 《Raw Soul》|Taiwan|Lightbox Photo Library|8’|2019
Liang Ting-yu《Firearms, Skulls, and Bones》|Taiwan|Lightbox Photo Library|17’|2021
Wang Hsiang-lin《Invisibility》|Taiwan|Lightbox Photo Library|10’|2020

The following measures will be implemented for screenings, to combat the prevailing threat of Novel Coronavirus:
  • All audience must wear face masks
  • No smoking, eating and drinking. Unauthorised photo-taking, audio and/or video recording is strictly forbidden
  • Cinema staff have the right to deny the admission of any person with temperature higher than 37.5°C
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