What is "post-straight photography"? And how has the advent of digital imaging technology, the Internet, globalisation and new ideas in art and photography influenced the new generation of Hong Kong photographers and artists?
Running from tomorrow (October 13) till November 26 at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, the "Post-Straight: Contemporary Hong Kong Photography" exhibition, which features photographs created by different creative approaches by 16 groups of artists, will explore the new art scene for Hong Kong contemporary photography and the trends followed by young photographers who are rejecting the traditional "straight photography" approaches to produce the fresh and exciting work of "post-straight photography".
The opening ceremony of the exhibition was held today (October 12). Officiating guests were the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, Mr Chow Yung-ping; curators of the exhibition Dr Edwin Lai and Mr Blues Wong; the Chairman of the Hong Kong Photographic Culture Association, Mr Leong Ka-tai; and the Chief Curator of the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, Ms Belinda Wong.
The "Post-Straight: Contemporary Hong Kong Photography" exhibition is a partnership project of the Hong Kong Heritage Museum and the Hong Kong International Photo Festival 2012 and curated by Dr Lai and Mr Wong. This exhibition also presents a dialogue with another highlight programme of the Hong Kong International Photo Festival - "Parallel Visions: Japan and Korea Contemporary Photography Exhibition" - and aims to activate cultural exchange in the field of photography across Hong Kong, Japan and Korea, and take Hong Kong photography into a new era of development.
In the 1980s Hong Kong photographers came to object to the notion of photography imitating painting, and advocated the "straight photography" movement that called for expression of the intrinsic qualities of photographs. This movement gained a lot of support in the new generation and since then has been dominant.
However, more and more photographers in Hong Kong have pursued art different from "straight photography" over the past two decades. An increasing number of artists who were trained in other disciplines have taken up photography as their medium of expression, making works that lean on concepts rather than subjects or style. This new style has come to be referred to as "post-straight", not just for departing from "straight photography", but also for bidding farewell to a single view of aesthetics. This new generation established a new set of photographic aesthetic standards, going beyond salon and "straight photography" and reflecting upon the field's developments of the previous decades. They hope photography in Hong Kong will move toward a future of openness and pluralism.
The 16 groups of photographers and artists participating in this exhibition are Stephen Cheung, Enoch Cheung, Luke Ching, Jerry Ho, Ramond Ho, Vik Lai, Lam Yik-fai, Liu Wai-tong, Ivy Ma, Man Ho, Kenneth Ng, Rogerger Ng, Paul Yeung, Tam Hing-kai, Wilson Yeung and So Wing-hon, and Hisun Wong. Their works are divided into four sections: "Nostalgic Revivalism", "Not so Straightly Speaking", "The Sky is Not the Limit" and "Mixed and Enhanced".
"Nostalgic Revivalism" introduces works of photographers who pursue techniques of photography from earlier times. They apply methods or equipment such as pinhole photography, antique cameras, non-silver photo-printing processes, wet collodion glass plates and photograms in their artworks to inform the viewers of forgotten aesthetics and even arouse interest in neglected local history.
"Not so Straightly Speaking" brings together four photographers whose works at first glance seem belong to "straight photography", but on a closer look these photographs disclose concerns of more complicated ideas and issues. Many of them are working or former photojournalists. In their personal works, deliberately tilted framing, digital treatments and more have been used to express their own feelings about events.
"The Sky is Not the Limit" features four artists who explore new ways of photographic expression. Each of them has made a breakthrough in shooting, picture-making or finishing.
"Mixed and Enhanced" represents artists who work in the mixed-media mode or apply further treatments after producing photographs. They experiment with photography to make presentational works incorporating signs, such as marks, handiwork, real objects and the like.
The Hong Kong Heritage Museum is located at 1 Man Lam Road, Sha Tin. The museum is open from 10am to 6am on weekdays and from 10am to 7pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. It is closed on Tuesdays (except public holidays). Admission is $10 and a half-price concession is available to full-time students, senior citizens and people with disabilities. Admission is free on Wednesdays.
For details of the exhibition, please visit the webpage of the Hong Kong Heritage Museum at www.heritagemuseum.gov.hk/eng/exhibitions/exhibition_details.aspx?exid=195 or call 2180 8188.
Ends/Friday, October 12, 2012
"Eight Great Sceneries in Hong Kong" by Stephen Cheung, one of the photographic works featured in the exhibition's "Nostalgic Revivalism" section.
"The Gift Pictogram" by Man Ho, one of the photographic works featured in the "Not So Straightly Speaking" section.
"'The Making Of' New Territories" by Enoch Cheung, one of the photographic works featured in the "The Sky is Not the Limit" section.
"Room as Pinhole Camera: 2/F, 243 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, HK" by Luke Ching, one of the photographic works featured in the "Mixed and Enhanced" section.