Introduction

This is a final research report for an Asia Art Archive Research Grant to look into photographic practice in Hong Kong from the 1960s to date. Photography, of its democratic nature, enjoys a high level of prevalence, pervasiveness and popularity in Hong Kong – from a ‘Kingdom of Salon Photography’ populated by amateur photographer after the World War II, to the recent establishment of a citywide ‘Hong Kong International Photo Festival’ that celebrates such visual medium as an everyday life art practice and the inevitable internationalism of art and culture.

Photography has been a visual medium that commands attention and participation in Hong Kong, yet fewer knowledge and systematic attempt in researching the field from a historical and cultural context, locating available research resource, making sense of the emergence of photographic practice, particular the efflorescence of Salon Photography in post-war Hong Kong, and the relevance of Hong Kong photography in a regional context has been made. 

After a yearlong research journey in photographic practice in Hong Kong, by frequenting exhibition, research archive, photographer’s studio and artist’s space, acquiring research collection, and conducting interview to practitioner, I conclude my research experience by compiling this final research report. The research report is of three chapters. I begin with a chronology of photographic practice in Hong Kong (1960 – 2012) to provide a contextual background, also a cultural history, of photography in Hong Kong. Significant moments and ruptures will be highlighted
and discussed. The second chapter is a textual documentation of mapping and annotating research deliverables of this project as well as available research material in photography in Hong Kong. Research in photography in Hong Kong, same as other visual medium and art practice of the city, has been made in a scattered manner by institution, academia as well as individual effort. A mapping exercise of and to annotate available research resource helps making sense of the existing research field and facilitating perspective to look for discussion of the research field. The third chapter is a thematic discussion of the emergence and efflorescence of Salon Photography that characterises what Hong Kong photography is in dominate discourse. The acquisition of the Photo Pictorial collection (1964 – 2005), the most long-lived popular magazine in photography in Hong Kong, as well as interview with practitioners and other acquisition in printed research material, provide an unyielding ground to look into and discuss some aspects of Hong Kong photography – why are we a ‘Kingdom of Salon Photography’ after World War II? What is the role of
museum, of institutional attempt, to help reconstructing a legacy of Salon Photography in postcolonial Hong Kong? Why do we embrace the notion of ‘Master Photographer’ in building a history of ‘Art Photography’ in between the handover of sovereignty? All these research problematiques direct me to look at Hong Kong photography in relevance to the regional context – Salon Photography to Hong Kong can be read as a ‘window’ to connect the closed door China and the rest of the world; it is not merely an amateur bourgeoisie leisure play but also a cultural apparatus by the
Communist Party to connect overseas Chinese outsides Mainland China; Hong Kong, of its geographical proximity to Mainland China and relevance to Southeast Asia, becomes a cultural entrepôt to conduit communism and patriotism through Salon Photography. Towards the end, I will provide other research insights to sensitise future research direction in researching photographic practice in Hong Kong.

Contextualising the Research Field: A Chronology of Photographic Practice in Hong Kong (1960 – 2012)

 Introduction

This chapter begins with a chronology of photographic practice in Hong Kong (1960 – 2012). The chronology aims at providing a contextual background of the research field in past five decades. Informed by archival research as well as through interview to practitioner in photography, I identify exhibition, publication and activity of photographic practices in Hong Kong to provide a sense of history and context. Relevant photographic practice outsides Hong Kong are also included in the chronology to embark regional and global relevance of the practice.

Compiling a Cultural History in Photography in Hong Kong: Keys Publication and Method

The following chronology is based on material and information that I collected throughout the research period (November 2011 to October 2012). Three publications serve as key ‘informants’ in this exercise, namely, Photo Pictorial (1964 – 2005), Artslink (1977 – 2012), a periodical published by the Hong Kong Arts Centre; and the first volume of Vision Beyond: Hong Kong Art Photography 1900 – 2000 (2001), an exhibition catalogue compiled by the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. The collection of Photo Pictorial (1964 – 2005), albeit incomplete in my acquisition, presents itself a chronology of photographic practice in Hong Kong over four decades. The collection itself is the most tangible, comprehensive and visual history of photography in Hong Kong. The Artslinks contains a complete exhibition history of the Hong Kong Arts Centre since its inception. The first volume of Vision Beyond (2001) exhibition catalogue includes research such as

  1. ‘History of Hong Kong Art Photography 1900 – 2000’ (p.19-114)
  2. Overview of ‘Hong Kong Photographic Magazines (p.115-124)
  3. Overview of ‘Hong Kong Photographic Associations’ (p.125- 144)
  4. ‘Brief Outline on the Development of Photographic Equipment’ (p.145-153)
  5. ‘First International Salon of Hong Kong Photographic Associations’ (p.154-155) 
  6. ‘Exhibition Stickers for International Salons’ (p.156-173)

Besides these three publications, I also collect information from photographer’s biography, arts programme leaflet, newsletter and documents, as well as public museum website and art archive database. For history of photographic practice in Hong Kong prior to the 1960s, Edwin Kin-keung LAI’s unpublished monograph Hong Kong art photography: from its beginnings to the Japanese invasion of December 1941 (1996) is the key research to refer to.

I begin the chronology at 1959, with the first colour photography exhibition of KAN Hing-fook, LAU Wai-kwong and CHEUNG Yu-chui at St. John’s Cathedral in Central, Hong Kong. This exhibition is significant in itself on many levels, being the first colour exhibition in the city with works of three ‘master photographers’ that define Salon Photography in Hong Kong, at an exhibition venue that is in prior to the establishment of the Hong Kong City Hall and public museum in Hong Kong. I end this chronology at the Hong Kong International Photo Festival in 2012, the second
attempt of the citywide photography festival with renaming to being ‘International’, also marks the end of the research period.

The chronology followed includes [tag] or ‘keyword’, to identify nature of activity, such as [Exhibition], [Publication], [Institution] and/or [Venue]. Activity outsides Hong Kong is shown indent and in grey in the chronology.

Chronology

1959 The first colour photography exhibition ‘Joint Exhibition of KAN Hing-fook, LAU Wai-kwong and CHEUNG Yu-chui at the annex of St. John’s Cathedral.
[Exhibition] [Technology] [Venue]

1960 Photo Art was founded
[Publication] [Magazine]

1960s Photography competitions held by the Sing Tao Evening Post (HK)
[Competition] [Publication]

/1960s/ ‘Social landscape’ photography becomes popular worldwide
[Genre] [Global]

1962 The Hong Kong City Hall (at Edinburgh Place) established
[Venue] [Institution]

1963 The Photographic Salon Exhibitors Associations (PSEA – Hong Kong) was founded
[Association & Club] [Salon Photography]

The New Wave Photography published
[Publication] [Magazine]

/1963/ First Malaysia International Salon of Photography
[Salon Photography] [Malaysia] [Exhibition]

1964 July 1964, The Birth of Photo Pictorial, MAK Fung as Editor
[Publication] [Magazine]

1966 The first photography monograph of Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) published by the Hong Kong Government
[Publication] [Institution]

‘24 Hours in Hong Kong’ Thematic Competition organised by Sing Tao Evening Post and the Stereo Ltd.
[Competition]

/1966/ John SZAKOWSKI’s The Photographer’s eye
[Publication] [Curator]

1968 The first International Salon of the Photographic Salon Exhibitors Association in Hong Kong (at the Hong Kong City Hall)
[Exhibition] [Salon Photography]

The First Slide Salon (at YMCA, Central) in Hong Kong
[Exhibition] [Technology] [Venue]

1969 The Photographic Salon Exhibitors Association (PSEA) started awarding ‘distinction’.
[Association & Club] [Salon Photography]

/1969/ The first ‘Recontres d’Arles’ was founded
[Festival] [France]

1970s The Minolta Gallery became a popular venue for photography enthusiast
[Venue]

1970s Photo Pictorial’s print-run reached 30,000 copies
[Publication] [Magazine]

1971 /1971/ The Photographer’s Gallery was founded (London, UK)
[Venue] [UK]

1974 /1974/ International Center of Photography was founded (NYC, US)
[Venue] [US]

1975 The First Southeast Asia Photographic Exhibition and the First Siam International Colour Slides Exhibition in Hong Kong
[Exhibition] [Technology] [Salon Photography]

1976 /1976/ MAO Zedong died
[China]

1977 September 1977, Solo Exhibition of Peter Wai-chuen YUNG sponsored by the Hong Kong Arts Centre
[Exhibition] [Venue]

/1977/ Susan SONTAG’s On Photography
[Writing]

1978 The Hong Kong Art Centre opens
[Venue]

/1978/ China’s Open Door Policy
[China] [Economics] [Social]

1979 Alfred KO’s first exhibition at the Hong Kong Arts Centre
[Exhibition] [Venue]

1979 Fotocine School of Photography founded
[Education]

1980 October 1980, Photoart (Late Version) resumed publication
[Publication] [Magazine]

/1980/ Roland BARTHES’s Camera Lucida
[Writing]

1980s Hong Kong was seconded in importing cameras in the world.
[Technology]

1981 Photo Centre (1981-88) established by Joseph FUNG
[Education]

Sylvia Siu-yee NG joined Photo Pictorial
[Publication]

1983 Michael CHEN serves as Galleries Director at the Hong Kong Arts Centre (1983-88)
[Venue]

Ansel ADAMS Exhibition at the Hong Kong Arts Centre
[Exhibition] [Overseas Photographer]

Colors & Consent – Polaroid Image by Wong Wo-bik published
[Publication] [Technology]

1984 August 1984, ‘China through the Eyes of Hong Kong Photographers’ exhibition and publication at the Hong Kong Arts Centre
[Exhibition] [Venue] [Publication] [China]

LEE Ka-sing started contributing in Photo Pictorial
[Publication] [Magazine]

1986 David Clarke relocates to Hong Kong and teaches at the University of Hong Kong
[People]

1986-7 Photo Pictorial goes into the China Market
[Publication] [China] [Magazine]

1987 The Hong Kong Institutes of Professional Photographers (HKIPP) was founded & first annual exhibition at the Hong Kong Art Centre
[Exhibition] [Venue] [Association & Club] [Commercial Photography]

‘Films on Photography’ (3 programmes, 8 titles) at the Hong Kong Arts Centre
[Screening] [Venue]

1987 April 1987, Photo Magazine (by Alex NG) first published
[Publication] [Magazine]

1988 Photo Centre (1981-88) closed
[Education]

1989 The Hong Kong Press Photographers Association (HKPPA) was founded
[Association & Club] [Photojournalism]

/1989/ June Forth Incident (Beijing, China)
[Politics] [Social] [China]

1990 MAK Fung stepped down from the position Editor at Photo Pictorial
[Publication] [Magazine]

The Arts Society was set up by the Exhibition Department, Hong Kong Arts Centre to encourage enthusiasm and art appreciation of the
galleries supporter. Lecture, such as ‘Art & Photography’ by Carmen Shawy LEE was held in March 1990.
[Venue] [Activity]

Henri-Cartier BRESSON exhibition at the Hong Kong Art Centre
[Exhibition] [Venue] [Overseas Photographer]

September 7, 1990 ‘One Day in Hong Kong’ Project organised by the Hong Kong Art Centre
[Activity] [Exhibition] [Venue] [Publication]

November, 1990 ‘In Search of Art’ Seminar at Hong Kong Arts Centre
[Activity] [Venue]

/1990/ Tokyo metropolitan Museum of Photography (SYABI) opened
[Japan] [Venue]

/1990/ Adobe Photoshop 1.0 image manipulation program is introduced for Apple Macintosh computers
[Technology]

1991 ‘Visual Research into Contemporary Hong Kong’ Photography Exhibition Project at Hong Kong Arts Centre
[Research] [Exhibition] [Venue]

October 1991 LEE Ka-sing proposed Dislocation in Photo Pictorial to Sylvia NG
[Publication] [Magazine]

August, ‘Master Photographs: Photography in the Fine Arts’ Exhibition at Hong Kong Arts Centre with a tagline ‘When photography becomes Art’ in publicity
[Exhibition] [Overseas Photographer] [Venue]

/1991/ Taipei International PhotoFest
[Festival] [Taiwan]

1992 Dislocation (1992-98) published its ‘zero issue’ on 15 January 1992
[Publication] [Magazine]

Hong Kong Art Biennial Exhibition at the Hong Kong Museum of Art, that first showcases 13 artworks in photography
[Exhibition] [Venue]

1993 March, 1993. Publication of ‘Consultation Paper: Arts Policy Review Report’ by Hong Kong Government Secretariat: Broadcasting, Culture
and Sport Bureau
[Policy] [Institution]

June, 1993. A three-page response to the ‘Consultation Paper: Arts Policy Review Report’ from the photography industry in Hong Kong and Photo Pictorial, written by Sylvia NG (Issue 335)
[Policy] [Publication] [Institution] [Magazine]

First wave of ‘electronic imaging’ appears in Dislocation
[Publication] [Technology] [Magazine]

/1993/ Adobe Photoshop is made available for MS-Windows Computer
[Technology] 

1994 ‘Three Photographic Perspectives – Hong Kong, Taiwan, China’ Seminar, Exhibition at the Hong Kong Arts Centre
[Venue] [Exhibition] [Activity]

1995 February, Master Seminar Series (LEUNG Ping-kwan on ‘Image & Text’; William LARSON on ‘New Digital Imaging Technology’) at Hong Kong Arts Centre
[Activity] [Technology] [Venue]

Hong Kong Arts Development Council established
[Institution]

Photographer LANG Chingsan passed away in Taipei
[Photographer]

‘OP Print Program’ was founded by LEE Ka-sing for print collection
[Activity]

1995-6 Photo Pictorial has its first Macintosh Apple computer for layout and design
[Technology] [Magazine]

1996 Edwin Kin-keung LAI’s thesis ‘Hong Kong Arts Photography: from its beginning to the Japanese invasion of December 1941’
[Research]

‘50 Hong Kong Contemporary Photographers’ CD Rom Project
[Technology] [Publishing]

‘The Metropolis’ (1990-96) Exhibition Visual Research into Contemporary Hong Kong Photography Exhibition Series at Hong Kong Art Centre
[Exhibition]

/1996/ Microsoft releases its WWW browser called Internet Explorer
[Technology]

1996-98 Blues WONG and WONG Wo-bik researches for the Hong Kong Art Archive at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum
[Research][Museum]

1997 NuNaHeDuo Centre of Photography (1997-99) was founded by LEE Ka-sing and Patrick LEE at Prince’s Terrace, Central
[Activity] [Venue]

1st July 1997 Transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong
[Politics]

/1997/ The Arab Image Foundation established
[Institution] [Lebanon]

1998 1a space Gallery founded at Oil Street
[Venue]

NuNaHeDuo Centre of Photography (NCP) was founded
[Venue]

1998-99 Dislocation/ NuNaHeDuo was funded by HKADC
[Publication] [Activity] [Institution] [Magazine]

1999 ‘Hong Kong Photo Series’ organised by the Hong Kong Museum of Art and NuNaHeDuo Centre of Photography
[Activity] [Museum]

2000 /2000/ Canon released the first digital SLR for the consumer market
[Technology] [Camera]

/2000/ ‘Charming China: A Conceptual Image Show’ Exhibition at East Link Gallery, Shanghai
[Exhibition] [China]

2001 The Hong Kong Heritage Museum opened
[Venue] [Museum]

Cattle Depot Artist Village in used
[Venue]

‘Vision Beyond: Hong Kong Art Photography 1900-2000’ Exhibition at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum
[Exhibition] [Venue] [Museum] [Salon Photography]

/2001/ The First Pingyao International Photography Festival (China)
[Festival] [China]

2003 A series of photography exhibition at John Batten Gallery
[Exhibition] [Venue]

/2003/ ‘A Strange Heaven: Contemporary Chinese Photography’ Exhibition at Galerie Rudolfinum (Prague, Czech Republic)
[Exhibition] [Chinese Photography] [Czech Republic]

2004 ‘Reality Spells – Chinese Conceptual Photography Since the 90s’ (HK) at the Hong Kong Central Library
[Exhibition] [Conceptual Photography]

‘Matter Dis-Matter’ Exhibition at 1a space Gallery (exploring photography to new media arts)
[Technology] [Exhibition] [Venue]

/2004/ Internet-based image hosting and community ‘Flickr’ launched
[Technology]

/2004/ Seoul Museum of Photography founded
[Museum] [Korea]

/2004/ ‘Spellbound Aura: The New Vision of Chinese Photography’ Exhibition at Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei (Taiwan)
[Exhibition] [Chinese Photography] [Taiwan]

/2004/ Chinese Avant-garde Photography since 1990 publishes
[Publication]

2005 Photo Pictorial discontinued
[Publication] [Magazine]

1a space Gallery organised a series of photography exhibition such as ‘Muse Gaze’, ‘Collective Space’ and ‘Walk! Don't Run’
[Exhibition] [Venue]

/2005/ The First Guangzhou Photo Biennial
[Festival] [China]

/2005/ Angkor Photo Festival
[Festival] [Cambodia]

2006 The Photocrafters founded by Simon WAN
[Venue]

/2006/ The First Lianzhou Photography Festival in China
[Festival] [China]

/2006/ ‘Self-landscapes in transition: Chinese avantguard photography since 1900’ Exhibition at Beijing Art Centre
[Exhibition] [China]

2007 ‘Hong Kong x 24 x 365: a year in the life of a city’ by David CLARKE
[Publication]

‘Talkover/ Handover’ Exhibition at 1a space Gallery
[Exhibition] [Venue]

2007 ‘Ten Years of Images: A Gift to Hong Kong’ co-presented by Hong Kong Arts Centre, MIA & Lumenvisum.
[Exhibition] [Venue]

‘China Hong Kong – Our Ten Years Photo Exhibitions’ at the Hong Kong Arts Centre
[Exhibition] [Venue]

‘Cameras Inside-out’ Exhibition at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum
[Exhibition] [Venue]

Lumenvisum (an independent non-profit photography organisation) established
[Venue]

/2007/ Three Shadows Photography Art Centre established in Beijing
[Venue] [China]

/2007/ The first iPhone was released on June 29, 2007
[Technology]

2008 ‘Imaging Hong Kong: Contemporary Photography Exhibition’ presented by the pH5 Photo Group at the Hong Kong Central Library
[Exhibition] [Venue] [Publication]

‘Symposium: Post 97 Art Photography in China, Hong Kong and Macau’ at the Hong Kong Central Library
[Venue] [Activity]

Not about Truth: Chinese Conceptual Photography since the 90s (2008) published
[Publication]

Two exhibitions organised by Lumenvisum
[Exhibition] [Venue]

/2008/ Polaroid discontinues the production of all instant film products, citing the rise of digital imaging technology
[Technology]

/2008/ Seoul International Photography Festival
[Festival] [Korea]

/2008/ Singapore International Photography Festival
[Festival] [Singapore]

2009 The first volume Mahjong (independent magazine)
[Publication]

‘Hong Kong Photography Series 1: The Verve of Light and Shadow’ exhibition at Hong Kong Heritage Museum
[Exhibition]

2009 ‘Photography and Media Art’ by WONG Wo-bik in Hong Kong Contemporary Art Biennial Awards 2009
[Writing] [Technology]

Five exhibitions organised by Lumenvisum
[Exhibition] [Venue]

2010 The first issue of KLACK: Photography & Culture Magazine (independent magazine) supported by HKADC
[Publication] [Magazine]

Contact 52 Hong Kong Contemporary Photographers published
[Publication] [Research]

The 1st Hong Kong Photo Festival
[Festival]

Upper Station Gallery founded by Vincent YU
[Venue] [Gallery]

Blindspot Gallery founded by Mimi GRADEL
[Venue] [Gallery]

Eleven exhibitions organised by Lumenvisum
[Exhibition] [Venue]

2010-11 ‘Hong Kong Photography Series 2: City Flâneur: Social Documentary Photography’ exhibition at HKHM
[Exhibition]

2011 Thirteen exhibitions organised by Lumenvisum
[Exhibition] [Venue]

2012 The Hong Kong International Photo Festival
[Festival]

‘Hong Kong Photography Series 3: Beyond the Portrait’ exhibition at HKHM
[Exhibition]

Ten exhibitions organised by Lumenvisum
[Exhibition] [Venue]

 

Contextualising the Chronology: A Cultural History of Photographic Practice in Hong Kong (1960-2012)

The above is a timeline, albeit inexhaustive, of photographic practice in Hong Kong in the past five decades. I begin with a series of activity that founds the establishment and legacy of Salon Photography in Hong Kong, namely the establishment of the Hong Kong City Hall (1962) where most exhibitions organised by the Photographic Salon Exhibitors Associations (1963) take place.

The 1960s is an era when Hong Kong recovers from post-war damage, of its population at 3 millions, and experiences the baby boom generation and influx of refugee from China. Demographic transformation provides a needed ground for a democratic medium to flourish. Photo Pictorial (1964 – 2005) was first published in July 1964 after earlier experimentation of Photo Art (August 1960 – September 1963, reprinted in 1981) and Camera Club (November 1956 – 1960) by the founding editors. Being the longevous printed magazine in photography in Hong Kong, Photo Pictorial serves as a platform to showcase photographic work, exchange idea, provide informal education through feature column, and promote commercial activity in photography and photographic equipment. Throughout forty years of publishing, Photo Pictorial has been a major platform (or ‘window’) for Salon Photography in Hong Kong, between Hong Kong and Mainland China, and across Southeast Asia. In the 1970s, Photo Pictorial’s print-run reaches 30,000 copies per issue, with its distribution in Hong Kong, in Mainland China as well as across Southeast Asia.

Photo Pictorial, as said, is one of the platforms where work of Salon Photography gets published in printed media. Over the decades and beyond, showcases of Salon Photography does not limit to Hong Kong but photographers from Mainland China and Southeast Asia. Nevertheless, cultural exchange in the region not only appears in form of printed media but also physical exhibition, such as the First Southeast Asia Photographic Exhibition (1975) and the First Siam International Colour Slides Exhibition (1975) in Hong Kong. A preliminary network of Salon Photography in the Asia context could hence be traced and imagined.

Before the Internet age, newspaper plays a vital role in bringing ‘amateur photographer’ to be seen in the public sphere. Sing Tao Evening Post organises a yearlong, citywide photography competition ‘24 Hours in Hong Kong’ in 1966 that best authorises ‘photography’ as a democratic medium in everyday life. The ‘One day in Hong Kong’ project organised by the Hong Kong Art Centre (of Oscar HO and David CLARKE) in 1990 could be seen as a later attempt but of similar nature. The Photographic Salon Exhibitors Association (PSEA) begins to award ‘distinction’ to amateur and professional photographer from all walks of lives since 1969. The Hong Kong City Hall (since 1962) was the exhibition venue for most photography exhibitions organised by PSEA, that later replaced by the Exhibition Gallery at the Hong Kong Central Library (since 2001). Institutionally-managed across different time and different bureau (respectively the Urban Council in the British colonial regime then the Leisure and Cultural Service Department after the establishment of HKSARG), both venues houses most Salon Photography exhibitions in Hong Kong, and both venues become the ‘place’ that resembles to that style. The first International Salon of the Photographic Salon Exhibitors Association in Hong Kong was taken place at the Hong Kong City Hall in 1968.

Since the 1970s, more and more exhibition venues that cater for and authorise photographic practice emerge in Hong Kong. The Minolta Gallery (during the 1970s) and the Hong Kong Arts Centre (since 1977) become the exhibition venues where photography enthusiasts congregate. Space specific for photographic practice also becomes a currency on the global arena, for examples The Photographer’s Gallery (1971) in the UK as well as the International Centre of Photography (1974) in the US. One may be aware that there is a fundamental difference in terms of founding body of the above four. Both The Photographer’s Gallery (UK) and the International Centre of Photography (US) are photographer-initiative; whereas the Minolta Gallery (HK) is a photography space owned and managed by a camera manufacturer, and the Hong Kong Arts Centre is a non-governmental establishment that caters not only for photography. In Hong Kong, the photographer-initiated space could only begin in the 1990s, where the editorial committee of NuNaHeDuo (Dislocation) found its space NuNaHeDuo Centre of Photography (NCP) at Central in 1998 at Central, that is supported by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. Since then, more and more smaller venture in creating art space for photographic practice emerges, especially in the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre (JCCAC, since 2008), a formerly factory conversion, also the home of the Hong Kong International Photo Festival. 

In the 1980s and 1990s, about 200 photography exhibitions take place at the Hong Kong Arts Centre under the regime of Michael CHEN (1983-88) and Oscar HO (1988-2001). The exhibition ranges from works of Hong Kong photographers, be they solo or group (or thematic) exhibition, to overseas photographers, very often with the label ‘master’ attached. The Fringe Club and the Goethe-Institut Hongkong, due to spatial constraint, facilitate small-scale photography exhibition. The establishment of the Hong Kong Heritage Museum (formerly named the Regional Museum) and the Exhibition Gallery at the Hong Kong Central Library, both in 2001, provides larger venue for thematic and/or large-scale photography exhibition, such as the Hong Kong Photography Series (at HKHM), ‘Reality Spells – Chinese Conceptual Photography since the 90s’ (2004, at HKCL) and ‘Imaging Hong Kong: Contemporary Photography Exhibition’ (2008, at HKCL). The Hong Kong Heritage Museum is also the first public museum to research, collect, exhibit and publish photography in Hong Kong. 

The years between 1989 and 1997 marks the most ‘interesting’ moment of Hong Kong photography, that Oscar HO remarks in the interview. Between the June Forth Incident and the handover of sovereignty of Hong Kong from Britain to China not only have impact on socio-political development but also for artistic inspiration. Alfred KO’s ‘The Blues’, a black-and-white documentary photography project begins at the day after the June Forth Incident and completes on the 30th June 1997, is one of the exemplary photographic works amongst other. Approaching the transfer of sovereignty, a ‘Hong Kong identity’, be it crisis or formation, emerges into question and inspiration for photographer, researcher and curator in photography. For examples, the ‘China through the Eyes of Hong Kong Photographers’ (1984), ‘Visual Research into Contemporary Hong Kong’ Photography Exhibition Project (1991), ‘Three Photographic Perspectives – Hong Kong, Taiwan, China’ Seminar and Exhibition (1994), ‘The Metropolis’ (1990-96) a subsequent exhibition of the ‘Visual Research’ project in 1996 and the beginning of the ‘Hong Kong Photography Series’ by the Hong Kong Heritage Museum (since 2009). These projects, by nature, document the most critical and crucial moments of Hong Kong; whereas documentary photography, of its indexical nature and application, becomes a popular genre amongst other photographic practices. 

Apart from employing photography to artistically re-examine our city and identities, the conception of NuNaHeDuo (Dislocation) (1992-98) also marks a new era of ‘Art Photography’ during the crucial political moment. On October 1, 1991, photographer LEE Ka-sing meets Photo Pictorial’s editor Sylvia NG and proposes a 16-page editorial content that is physically attached to but artistically and conceptually independent from Photo Pictorial. In January 1992, the zero issue of NuNaHeDuo (Dislocation) appears at the end section of Photo Pictorial. The two manages a marriage of 7 years (1992-1998) and NuNaHeDuo (Dislocation) goes independent from Photo Pictorial with the support of the Hong Kong Arts Development Council from 1998-99. 

The last decade of the British colonial regime in Hong Kong not only marks an ‘interesting’ moment for photographer to create, but also a time where institution acknowledges and includes photography into the ‘arts’. In the Hong Kong Art Biennial Exhibition 1992, 13 artworks in photography were selected and showcased. Such ‘consideration’ and ‘inclusion’ begins a series of discussion in 1993. In March 1993, the Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Bureau of the Hong Kong Government Secretariat publishes the ‘Consultation Paper: Arts Policy Review Report’ and seeks for public opinion on future development in the arts. In June 1993, a three-page response to the ‘Consultation Paper: Arts Policy Review Report’ from the photography industry in Hong Kong and the editorial committee of Photo Pictorial was compiled and written by Sylvia NG (in Issue 335). The commentary expresses needs from the photography industry, such as venue for meeting, exhibition and activity, darkroom and studio facility, and government subsidy for photography activity. A dialogue between institution and photographic industry begins. With the
establishment of the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (1995) also the preparation for the Hong Kong Heritage Museum (since 1996), photography becomes a visual art practice that is, the least, included in the institutional framework of museum’s practice and arts and cultural policy in Hong Kong.

From a technological perspective, the chronology offers a glimpse to witness change and development of the medium. With the first colour photography exhibition ‘Joint Exhibition of Kan Hing-fok, Lau Wai-kwong and Cheung Yu-chui’ at the Annex of St. John’s Cathedral (1959), the First Slide Salon in Hong Kong (1968) was taken place at YMCA at Central and publication of ‘Color & Consent – Polaroid Image by Wong Wo-bik’ (1983), these activities, some of the ‘firsts’ as they claim, reveal how Hong Kong photographers keep abreast of technology at a particular time within the analogue practice. The earliest awareness of digitalisation of this medium could be reflected from the followings. First, Adobe Photoshop is in introduced in Hong Kong in 1990, with ‘electronic imaging’ photographic work appears in NuNaHeDuo (Dislocation) in 1993. Photo Pictorial purchases its first Macintosh computer in 1995-6 as Sylvia NG remarks. In 1996, the ‘50 Hong Kong Contemporary Photographers’ CD Rom Project, a digital platform, is conceived by the NuNaHeDuo Editorial Committee. With the popularisation of digital photography after the New Millenium, Julian Chi-chiu LEE introduces digital camera to the School of Creative Media, the City University of Hong Kong, in 2003. The ‘Matter Dis-Matter’ Exhibition at 1a space Gallery (2004) and WONG Wo-bik’s writing ‘Photography and Media Art’ (2009) provide subsequent examples to ascertain digital imaging and the exploration of photography into new media arts practice in recent Hong Kong art-scape.

Education and professional development in photography evolves from apprenticeship system and studying from ‘master’ in 1950s to 1970s to formal training offered by private school, college and university from the 1980s onwards. ‘Fotocine School of Photography’ (1979) and the ‘Photo Centre’ (1981-88) founded by Joseph FUNG are the earliest trace of school-based and private education in photography. Department of Extra Mural Studies (HKU, since 1956/57) offers short-course from studiotraining to general arts appreciation in photography since the 1980s (taught by WONG Wo-bik and Carmen Shawy LEE). The Hong Kong Arts Centre offers short-course and one-year certificate in photography in the 1990s. The Hong Kong Polytechnics University provides diploma and bachelor degree in photographic design until 2000. Until today, the School of Communication at the Hong Kong Baptist University, the School of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong as well as the Hong Kong Christian Service Kwun Tong Vocational Training Centre (discontinued after the year 2012/13) provides diploma and degree
program that put emphasis on photojournalism and documentary photography. Currently, the Hong Kong Arts School (with RMIT from Australia, since 1998), the Academy of Visual Arts at the Hong Kong Baptist University (since 2005) provides both undergraduate and postgraduate educations in photography and lens-based media.

The established of two trade unions of professional photographers, that is, the Hong Kong Institutes of Professional Photographers (HKIPP, in 1987), the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association (HKPPA, in 1989) provides platform and sense of ‘community’ for particular photographic practice, with HKIPP facilitates for commercial photographer and HKPPA for press photographer. 

In the past decade (2000-12), both institutional and independent spaces that facilitate photographic practice co-exist, perhaps compete against each other, with independent art space such as 1a space Gallery (founded by CHOI Yan-chi in 1998), the Photocrafters (founded by Simon Wan in 2006), the Lumenvisum (independent space for photography, founded by TSE Ming-chong in 2007), The Upper Station Photo Gallery (commercial gallery for photography, during 2010-12, founded by Vincent YU), Blindspot Gallery (commercial gallery for photography, founded by Mimi GRADEL in 2010), and ‘100ft. PARK’ (since 2011) in the premise of ‘The Coming Society’, a 100 square feet art space by itself. 

The legendary Photo Pictorial discontinues at April, 2005 (of 476 issues) with its ‘mission accomplished’, a remark by Sylvia NG. New forms of independent publication publication and magazine in photography emerge, very often sponsored by the HKADC or self-financed and not relying on commercial advertising to sustain itself. The ‘monthly’ publishing pattern changes to ‘annual’ or ‘bi-annual’. Mahjour (since 2009), KLACK (since 2010) and Kinggaiwui (since 2010) are some of the examples.

Since 2010, the Hong Kong Photographic Culture Association is formed by 19 photographers across generations in Hong Kong and organise a citywide Hong Kong Photo Festival 2010 (HKPF) on a biennial basis. With series of exhibitions, seminar, workshop, line-up activity, competition and guided tour, an image of ‘international standard and format’ of photography festival in Hong Kong is rendered into appearance to general public. The Festival renames itself to the Hong Kong International Photo Festival (HKIPF) for its second attempt in 2012. Being ‘international’ is the operative word, and to meet and compete with the fever and fashion of art festival and biennial on both regional and global levels is perhaps the ‘future’.

Annotated Bibliography for History of Photography in Hong Kong

Books and Monographs

Clarke, David James, (c2003), Art in Hong Kong: a chronological guide to exhibitions (1985-2001), Hong Kong: Hong Kong Art Archive: Department of Fine Arts, the University of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Heritage Museum (2010), City flâneur: Social documentary photography, Hong Kong: Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

Hong Kong Heritage Museum (2009), The verve of light and shadow: master photographers, Tchan Fou-li, Kan Hing-fook, Leo K.K. Wong, Hong Kong: Leisure and Cultural Services Department. 

Hong Kong Heritage Museum (2001), Vision Beyond: Hong Kong Art Photography, 1900-2000, Hong Kong: Leisure and Cultural Services Department. 

Lai Kin-keung Edwin (2010), First photographs of Hong Kong, 1858-1875, Hong Kong: Oxford University Press. 

Lai Kin-keung Edwin (1996), Hong Kong art photography : from its beginnings to the Japanese invasion of December 1941, Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong.

Ng Chun-wing Alex (2007), Hong Kong Photography in 20 years, Hong Kong: Pop Art Group Limited. 

Recreation and Culture Branch, Government Secretariat, Hong Kong (1993) ‘Arts Policy Review Report - Consultation Paper’ Sing Tao Newspaper Ltd. (ed) (1969), Photography in Hong Kong 1954-1969, Hong Kong: Sing Tao Newspapers Ltd. 

Sing Tao Newspaper Ltd. (ed) (1975), Photography in Hong Kong 1970-1975, Hong Kong: Sing Tao Newspaper Ltd.

Wong Wo-bik and Ho Sin-see (eds) (1994), Three photographic perspectives: Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan: February 25-27, 1994.

NG Sylvia Siu-yee, Cheung Fai (eds.) (1996) The Metropolis - "Visual Research into Contemporary Hong Kong" Photography Exhibition (1990-1996) Hong Kong : Photo Pictorial Publishers Ltd.: Hong Kong Arts Centre


Magazines and Periodicals

Artslink, Hong Kong Arts Centre (Periodical) (1977 - )

Camera Club (1956 – 1960)

Dislocation (1992 – 1998)

KLACK (2010 – 2012) 

Mahjour (2011 -)

Photo Art (1960 – 1963, reprinted in 1981)

Photo Pictorial, Photo Pictorial Limited (Periodical) (1964 – 2005)


CD Rom

50 Hong Kong Contemporary Photographers (1996)

Mapping the Research Field: Locating and Annotating Research Material on Photography in Hong Kong

 Introduction

This chapter is of annotation purpose – after a yearlong research journey, I collect primary and secondary research materials on photography in Hong Kong since the 1960s. These materials vary from physical form, such as book, magazine, monograph, leaflet and ephemeral material, to digital form, such as video and audio interview to practitioner in photography. In what follows, I shall annotate all research deliverables that is acquired for this research project, and hopefully future researcher will be able to find relevance or assistance is accessing these research materials on the subject matter.


A. Interview to Practitioner in Photography in Hong Kong (Digital Format)

During the research period, I give interviews to practitioner in photography in Hong Kong and attempt to provide some oral histories of development of photography in Hong Kong since the 1960s. The interviewees are as follows,

  1. Julian LEE 李志超
    Photographer, educator in photography at the School of Creative Media,
    City University of Hong Kong
    This is a video interview taken place at LEE’s office

  2. Sylvia Siu-yee NG 伍小儀
    Editor-in-chief for Photo Pictorial (攝影畫報) (1981 – 2005)
    This is a video interview taken place at NG’s office

  3. Anthea FAN 樊婉貞
    Curator in photography, publisher of Art Map
    This is a video interview taken place at the FAN’s office

  4. Edwin Kin-keung LAI 黎健強
    Art historian in photography in Hong Kong
    This is a video interview taken place at the Hong Kong Art School

  5. Richard YEE 趙羨藻
    Photographer, print collector
    This is a video interview taken place at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, with the presence of Sylvia NG

  6. KAN Hing Fook 簡慶福
    Senior photographer
    This is a video interview taken place at the Kan’s office, with the presence of Sylvia NG and Richard YEE

  7. Simon WAN 尹子聰
    Photographer, founder of the Photocrafter, an independent art space in photography in Hong Kong
    This is a video interview taken place at the Photocrafter

  8. HO Man Kei 何敏基
    Darkroom expert
    This is an audio interview taken place at HO’s studio

  9. CHANG Chat 張焯
    Senior photographer
    This is a video documentation at a photographer’s sharing at Lumenvisum

  10. A video documentation of a ‘Discussion forum: Where are the Locals?’ at
    The Photocrafter

  11. WONG Wo Bik 王禾壁
    Photographer, researcher in photography
    This is an audio interview taken place at the researcher’s home

  12. Carmen Shawy LEE 李筱怡
    Writer in photographer in the 1980s Hong Kong
    This is an audio interview taken place at a restaurant at Tsim Sha Tsui

  13. Oscar Hing-kay HO 何慶基
    Curator in photography in Hong Kong
    This is an audio interview taken place at HO’s office

  14. Blues Kai Yu WONG 黃啟裕
    Photographer, curator and researcher in photography in Hong Kong
    This is an audio interview taken place at the Hong Kong Institute of Education

  15. Eve TAM 譚美兒
    Curator at the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, HKSARG
    This is an audio interview taken place at the Hong Kong Museum of Art


These conversations range from semi-structure interview to causal dialogue. In this oral history exercise, I attempt to map what a photographic community in Hong Kong would be like by identifying major stakeholders in the field. This mapping framework is informed by two books that focuses on photographic practice outsides Hong Kong, namely Anne-Celine Jaeger’s (2007) Image Makers, Image Takers: Interviews with today’s leading curators, editors and photographers and Nan Richardson’s (2005) Conversations: With Contemporary Photographers. In 2010, Dennis LAI, a researcher in photography in Hong Kong, publishes an anthology of interviews to 52 Hong Kong photographers titled Contact 52: Hong Kong Contemporary Photographer. These three books have been important references in formulating my framework and methodology on what a photographic community in Hong Kong is, or could be. My thought, aligned with Jaeger (2007), is that a photographic community, or any artistic community, is not only composed of photographer, or artist. It is the chain of artistic production that composes the network of community. Hence, my attempt is to include not only photographer but practitioners in education, in curatorial practice, in writing, in publishing, in research; practitioner who works insides the institution, practitioner who works independently from institution. My aim is to bombard a concept mapping through ‘roles’ hence envision what an artistic community would be like – from what can be seen (the front stage), to what is invisible (the backstage).


Annotating Oral History: Locating ‘Agents’ of Photographic Community in Hong Kong

From these interviews, I then attempt to imagine a photographic community that is noded and networked by individual, or ‘agent’, or ‘enabler’ to mobilise the photographic community and its development in Hong Kong. In what follows, I select seven interviewees from the above who take up different roles in the photographic community in Hong Kong. The followings are annotations to the video/ audio interview supplemented by textual and factual research after the interview session.

  1. Sylvia Siu-yee NG (伍小儀)
    Chief Editor for Photo Pictorial (攝影畫報) (1981 – 2005)

Sylvia NG is the Editor for the Photo Pictorial (攝影畫報). She joined the periodical in 1981 and had been working for the magazine for 24 years until 2005. She was a graduate in Chinese Studies at the Hong Kong Baptist College. 

NG’s editorial involvement in Photo Pictorial over two and a half decades makes her a key informant to connect to senior photographers who once active in Hong Kong from the 1960s onwards, such as TCHEN Fou-li 陳復禮, KAN Hing-fok 簡慶福, YAU Leung 邱良, MAK Fung 麥烽, Richard YEE 趙羨藻 and many others. After Photo Pictorial, NG currently manages some of the aforementioned photographers in print sale (such as YAU Leung, Richard YEE and MAK Fung). Apart from connection to senior photographers in Hong Kong, NG is also well connected to the photographic communities in Mainland China. This could be explained by the bonding of Photo Pictorial and the Communist Party in PRC since its inception - that
overseas photography magazine serves as cultural assimilation of overseas Chinese and promotion of tourism before the Open Door Policy. One of the experience that NG shares in the interview is that in the mid 1980s, young photographers in Mainland China such as WANG Wenlan (王文瀾) and HU Wugong (胡武功) submitted and got their works published in Photo Pictorial. The new bleeds those days became some of the most powerful practitioners (Da-wan 大腕) in the contemporary Chinese photography world. (Wang is currently the picture editor at China Daily 中國日報 and Vice-chairman for the China Photographers Association 中國攝影家協會; HU is a well-established photojournalist in Mainland China).

Besides connection to photographers in the past three decades, NG is also responsible for the inclusion of Dislocation (NuNaHeDou 《娜移》) in Photo Pictorial. Dislocation is a 16-pages insert supplementary in Photo Pictorial since January 1992. Dislocation was initiated by photographer LEE Ka-sing (李家昇) in 1991. It is an independent periodical that address the lack of representation in photographic magazines in the 1990s Hong Kong. Photo Pictorial and Dislocation could be viewed as photography magazine from two poles: Photo Pictorial focuses on reportage photography, salon photography and sees photography as ‘photograph’; whereas Dislocation experiments with photography as an expressive and artistic medium, employs mixed-media (such as performance, text, installation art, drawing and photography) and addresses faces of photography besides ‘mechanics’ and ‘technique’ (such as image and censorship, constructed photography and political parody). The appearance of Dislocation in Photo
Pictorial was, still is, the most daring experiment in publishing in Hong Kong, and that leads to and inspires many other platforms from the 1990s onwards. 

NG’s engagement in the photographic communities in Hong Kong in the past three decades offers a wide spectrum to examine the notion and roles of ‘agent’ – connecting and breaking. Being a magazine editor, she is connected to generations of photographer of different genres that breaks the communal pattern of association and clubs (discussed in Chapter 1.3) and across border. The inclusion of Dislocation in Photo Pictorial under her regime breaks the boundary between tradition (salon photography) and avant-garde (photography as an artistic medium) that provides one of the earliest platforms to foster the growth of art photography in HON from the 1990s onwards.


2. Eve TAM (譚美兒)
    (currently) Chief Curator, Hong Kong Museum of Art

Eve TAM is currently the Chief Curator at the Hong Kong Museum of Art. TAM has extensive work experience in museums (institutional) in Hong Kong, from Flagstaff House Museum of Teaware (1992-94), to Museum of Art (1994-96, 2006-08 and from 2012 onwards), to Hong Kong Heritage Museum (1996-2006), to the set-up of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (2008-10) and the Art Promotion Office (2010-12). TAM graduated from The University of Hong Kong in Fine Arts in 1991 and she received a Lee Hysan Foundation Fellowship of the Asian Cultural Council in 2004 that allows her to work with several photography museums and institutions in the US. TAM is now the Board of Directors of the Hong Kong Art Administrators Association.

From 1996 to 2006, TAM serves as an assistant curator (in modern art) at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. The division of ‘modern art’ in the Heritage Museum system entails applied art forms such as printmaking, ceramic, photography, design and etc. Accordingly to TAM, the foundation of the Hong Kong Heritage Museum (formerly titled the Regional Museum) is structured by a cultural policy in the ‘Regional Council Art Development Proposal: Consultation Paper’ (區域市政局藝術 發展計劃書:康樂文化事務委員會諮詢文件) (translation mine) (May 1997). In the paper, the Leisure and Cultural Service Committee gives definition to visual arts that includes photography, that could be seen as the earliest mention of this medium from an institutional point of view. Aims of such Museum are 1, to promote artwork that belongs to Hong Kong culture and heritage; 2, to collect artwork for long-term and short-term exhibition; and 3, to promote artists of potential and encourage general public (especially children) to participate in visual arts programme. (Section 8.4 in the paper). The role of the Hong Kong Heritage Museum that time was to position itself as the first and perhaps the only museum that focus on research in photography, publication and exhibition, and collection in photography in Hong Kong.

Under these premises, TAM participated in the ‘ground work’ – the set-up of Hong Kong Art Archive at the Museum, research of history of photography in Hong Kong, material collection such as acquisition of artwork and exhibition preparation. At that time, other interviewees such as WONG Wo-bik (王禾璧) and Blues Kai-yu WONG (黃啟裕) were hired as researchers for the collection. TAM was actively engaged in the first large-scale exhibition in photography - ‘Vision Beyond: Hong Kong Art Photography, 1900 – 2000’ (藝影春秋:香港藝術攝影 1900﹣2000) (8 December 2001 – 26 May 2002) and its subsequent publication – the four volumes Vision Beyond: Hong Kong Art Photography, 1900 – 2000《藝影春秋:香港藝術攝影 1900﹣2000 (全四冊)》 (2001). Apart from the institutional engagement in photography, TAM is also the writer for Wong Wo-bik’s photography in Hong Kong / China Photographers Four: Wong Wo Bik (2009). 

The founding of the Hong Kong Heritage Museum and the Hong Kong Art Archive at the Museum are the earliest institutional attempt to include photography, as a visual medium, in Hong Kong. Collection at the Hong Kong Art Archive is the first attempt to centralise first-handed research documents on photography (and other visual arts forms). Curator who works in the museum system, as ‘agent’ in the photographic communities, is to collect and centralise photographic artwork and research for exhibition preparation. Collecting and centralising of resource under the institutional framework could, as such, be the role of this agent. In terms of connecting to photographer and the photographic communities in general, the museum system employs ‘Guest Curator’ scheme to reach-out - to invite expertise who is well connected to the industry for exhibition preparation. Curator who works in the institution could be seen as being independent from the photographic communities.

3. Blues Kai-yu WONG (黃啟裕)
    Independent Curator, Photographer & Educator

Apart from curator from an institutional background, there are curator in photography who works independently and outsides institution. Blues Kai-yu WONG is a photographer himself, who publishes monograph Mandala AfterDark: Photographs by Blues Wong (萬籟有光:明凡作品集) (2007), also serving as independent curator in photography for exhibitions, for examples, ‘Walk! Don't Run: Demonstration Photographs by 7 Artists’ (2005) at 1a space, ‘Orchestration: Hong Kong Old Shops: Photographs by Simon Go’ (2007) at 404 Shanghai Street Art Space, ‘Orchestration 2: Photographs by Simon Go and Illustration by Stella So’ (2008) at 404 Shanghai Street Art Space, co-curate ‘Imaging Hong Kong: Art Photography by Hong Kong Photographers (2008/9) with Edwin K.K. LAI at the Hong Kong Central Library Extension Gallery, guest curator for ‘Hong Kong Photography Series 2: City Flâneur – Social Documentary Photography’ (2010) at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum and co-curate ‘Post-straight: Contemporary Hong Kong Photography’ (2012) with Edwin K.K. LAI at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, that is part of the Hong Kong International Photo Festival 2012. WONG was the co-editor for Dislocation (NuNaHeDuo) and founding member of photographer group ‘pH5 Photo Group). Blues Kai-yu WONG is a example of the multiple roles in the photographic communities in Hong Kong, as a photographer, a curator, an educator and a researcher.

Independent curator, like WONG himself, curates exhibition that is outsides the institutional framework. WONG, in the interview, mentions that his curatorial intention is to bring non-established (emerging) Hong Kong photographer’s work to the public, that is well reflected from his curatorial experience. During my research journey, WONG co-curates ‘Post-straight: Contemporary Hong Kong Photography’ (後直:當代香港攝影) (13 October to 26 November 2012) with Edwin K.K. LAI, at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, as part of the exhibition series at the Hong Kong International Photo Festival 2012, concurrently to the Museum ‘Hong Kong Photography Series 3: Beyond the Portrait’. The exhibition includes 16 emerging
photographers (of 4 groups) from Hong Kong (the third generation of photographers that comes after salon photography and straight photography in LAI’s essay) and aims to ‘move toward a future of openness and pluralism, and not inanity or nihilism’. From observation, I see the opposites of roles institutional and independent curator between the two exhibition spaces. A closed space (in thematic gallery) that contains prominent photographers and attempts to reveal the historical development of portrait photography in Hong Kong (from the early 1950s to 2012); an opened space (around the first floor corridor) that is surrounded by contemporary photographer who ‘explores 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 fresh and exciting work of “post-straight photography”.1 Independent curator, without institutional burden, explores new possibilities. In the curatorial statement for ‘Post-straight: Towards the Era of Open Photography’ (2012), the co-curator Edwin K.K. LAI, they said,

‘The subtitle of this essay, “Towards the Era of Open Photography”, is also the underlying theme that we organise this exhibition. While we apply theoretical analysis to articulate and classify contemporary trends in Hong Kong photography, we also hope to identify certain possible approaches that photographers and artists can pursue and develop their work. Of course, in terms of logic, any classification inevitably means boundaries, which will in turn become hurdles and barriers that need to be breached or surpassed. After all, what we can provide here are some suggestions for further investigation’.

Of course, such dichotomy of ‘independent’ and ‘institutional’ could be problematic, even naïve, in nature to generalise curatorial practice. My intention is to employ these two agents and their roles to illustrate the differences between ‘institutional framework’ and ‘independency and freedom’ from my field observation. ‘Independency and freedom’ may be the way to shape and sharpen the future development of this medium.


4. Edwin Kin-keung LAI (黎健強)
    Curator, Researcher and Art Historian in Photography

Edwin Kin-keung LAI has multiple roles in the photographic communities in Hong Kong. In the 1980s, while working at a trading company, LAI became interested in writing in the arts and culture. He starts learning photography at the Photo Centre (攝影中心), an independent school of photography founded by Joseph Hon-kee FUNG and Alfred KO and the Department of Extramural Studies at the University of Hong Kong (the School of Continued Education of the HKU in today’s equivalent). He was once studied with HUNG Hing-yin (孔慶燃) in darkroom photography and printing. In 1988, he continued his training in photography at the Derbyshire College of Higher Education (UK) and obtained his BA. Upon the return from the UK, he then pursued a Master of Philosophy (‘Hong Kong Art Photography: from its beginnings to the Japanese invasion of December 1941’ (1997) and a Doctor of Philosophy (‘The Life and Art Photography of Lang Jingshan (1892-1995)’ (2000) at the Department of Fine Arts, the University of Hong Kong, under the supervision of Prof. David CLARKE. LAI publishes widely on history of Chinese photography. LAI co-curates exhibition with Blues Kai-yu WONG.

In the course of research, I became much aware of the importance of research and history of photography in Hong Kong, hence keen to learn the role of ‘historian’ and ‘researcher’ as agent in the photographic communities in Hong Kong. Before LAI took up his studies at the HKU, history of photography in Hong Kong was an underdeveloped subject matter. There was very little attempt to acknowledge the role of ‘history’ and ‘research’ in the early 1990s. The ambiguous nature of photography as art (in the 1990s) did create hurdle for him to pursue a research degree in Hong Kong. His research approach addresses on the social-cultural dimension of photography and photograph and its place in the context/ history of Hong Kong. Research practice in photography in Hong Kong, from my observation with reference to LAI’s oral history, is not an independent entity itself. Independency and agency of research practice could be in question and at risk. The Hong Kong Art Archive at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum is one example to illustrate the supplementary nature and functionalism of research, that is research of this medium is to prepare for future exhibition. Academic alignment seems to be a way to situate research practice.


5. Carmen Shawy LEE (李筱怡)
    Writer in Photography (1980s – 1990s)

Carmen Shawy LEE received her BA in Art History at the University of Hong Kong, then a Master in Literature, Faculty of Modern History, at the Oxford University. LEE’s M.Litt. dissertation titled ‘John Thomson: a photographic vision of the Far East (1860 – 1872)’ that is believed to be one of the earliest attempts in researching and writing the Scottish photographer John Thomson (1837-1921) and his photographic venture in Asia.

LEE published widely in photography and writing in the 1980s to 1990s. Her writing appears in newspaper column, book chapter and photographer’s monograph. LEE’s donation of her writing to the Asia Art Archive, that includes 98 column writings appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal (信報財經新聞) (from 19 December 1985 to 23 August 1988), 6 column writings appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Times (香港經濟日報), 12 writings in various publications and 1 handwriting. LEE worked with a variety of pen names, including ‘C. Lee’, ‘Carmen Lee’, ‘S C Lee’, ‘Shawy Carmen Lee’, 「李筱怡」, 「筱怡」, 「賈文」, 「賈汶」 and 「嘉文」.

Apart from writing, LEE also held talks and seminars in photography during the period, for instance, lecture ‘Art & Photography’ organised by the Arts Society, Hong Kong Arts Centre in March 1990.

While Edwin Kin-keung LAI’s research and writing in photography focuses on social history and photography with a strong alignment to the academia, LEE, on the other hand, could be identified as a secular writer. As one of the very few female writers in photography in the 1980s to 1990s, one of the recurrent subject matters in her writing is on ‘womanhood’ and photography, be it woman photographer and female ‘as subject’ in photograph. To address gender essentialism in writing and photography, based on LAI’s and LEE’s writings, could be at danger in forfeiting autonomy of agency in writing, however, LEE’s writings do provide a series of trace to look at concerns of female writer. For examples, writing for Holly Wong (female photographer) in Dislocation (1993) and a column titled ‘Woman and History of Photography’ (appears Hong Kong Economic Journal in 1986) (Or from another perspective, what if there is no female writer to address issues of ‘woman’ and photography back then?) Carmen Shawy LEE’s writing, albeit discontinued in the past two decades, does reveal the earlier gender sensitivity in writing by a female writer in Hong Kong.


6. WONG Wo-bik (王禾璧)
    Photographer, Researcher, Educator & Art Administrator

WONG Wo-bik is a female photographer and veteran art administrator in Hong Kong in the past three decades. WONG received her BFA in sculpture and printmaking from the Columbus College of Art and Design (Ohio, US) and a MFA in photography from the Tyler School of Art, Temple University (Philadelphia, US). Upon her return to Hong Kong, she taught photography at the Photo Centre, Department of Extramural Studies (HKU) and the Hong Kong Art Centre. WONG participated in more then 50 exhibitions (solo or group) in and outsides Hong Kong. Two monographs, Color & Consent (by Polaroid Corporation Hong Kong) (1983) and Hong Kong / China Photographers Four: Wong Wo Bik (2009). WONG is the researcher at the Hong Kong Art Archive (at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum) from 1996 to 1998. WONG is also one of the 19 founding members of the Hong
Kong Photographic Culture Association that presents the Hong Kong International Photo Festival 2012. 

WONG’s multiple roles in the photographic communities in Hong Kong in the past 30 years makes her one of the most knowledgeable (agent as knowledge and information provider) and well-connected informants (agent who connects), also the most complicated individual to identify her roles and engagement. She shares some of the nature of agents that has been previously discussed, to connect, to break and to explore. Working and engaging outsides the institutional framework, WONG has the agency, liberty and flexibility to traverse between groups, genres and generations.

7. Oscar Hing-kay HO (何慶基)
    Exhibition Director of the Hong Kong Art Centre (1988 to 2001)
    (currently) Professional Consultant at the Department of Cultural and Religious Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong

Oscar Hing-kay HO is one of the pioneers in curatorship in Hong Kong. HO serves as, at first an Exhibition Organiser, than Exhibition Director, at the Hong Kong Art Centre from the 1988 to 2001. The Hong Kong Art Centre, from its inception in 1977 to the 2000s, has been the exhibition venue for photography outsides the Museum system in Hong Kong, with more than 200 exhibitions in photography and related programmes (such as artist’s talk, guided tour, discussion forum and publication). Exhibition showcases photography by Hong Kong photographers and photographers across the globe.

With his vast curatorial projects in photography and programmes in Hong Kong, HO’s plays an important role in the photographic communities in Hong Kong who shapes the Hong Kong Art Centre as a key platform in exhibiting photography. HO describes that the Hong Kong Art Centre, of its self-funded and non-governmental (outsides the Museum system) nature, positions itself in the ‘middle’ in terms of the hierarchy of exhibition in Hong Kong, with the Museum system on top/biggest and private gallery at the bottom/smallest. The Hong Kong Art Centre, under HO’s regime, offers exhibition (in photography) of different scales, from short period to long, from solo show of photographer to group exhibition, from thematic collection to multiple-cities exhibition. The spectrum of ‘forms of exhibition’ is well-manifested in such position. On another note, HO also shapes trends and era of photography by identifying the June-Fourth Incident (1989) to the handover of Hong Kong (1997) as the critical moment for documentary photographer and photojournalist to produce artwork, that results an era of ‘documentary return and revisit’ in the 1990s to 2000s in Hong Kong.


B. Printed Material in Photography in Hong Kong (Physical Form)

My fieldwork, other than facilitating interviews to photographer and practitioner, also involve locating and acquiring printed material in photography that is not in the Asia Art Archive collection. By visiting office, studio, independent art space, bookstore, photography festival, exhibition and etc, I collect and acquire various publications, ranging from magazine, monograph, leaflet and catalogue of exhibition, and ephemeral material. The following is a list of printed material that I acquire for this research project,

Book
Reclaimed Land - Hong Kong in Transition By David CLARKE
The Metropolis: Visual Research into Contemporary Hong Kong 1990-1996
與身份不符 攝影雜誌 Vol 1
與事實不符 攝影雜誌 Vol 5
攝影,藝術甚麼?
攝影問答 蔡見新編著
攝影手冊 余瑞華編著
攝影的技巧 潘日波著

CD Rom
50 Hong Kong Contemporary Photographers (1996) (of 1 CD Rom)

Exhibition Catalogue
Do You Believe? (by Jason BROOKS, Julian LEE, LI Wei, XIANG Yang)
Luminous Harbor: Hong Kong Contemporary Photography 2011
Mirage - A Conversation between TANG Yang Chi & LAU Ching Ping Exhibition
The Burning Edge: Making Space Activating Form
Vision Beyond - Hong Kong Art Photography 1900-2000

Ephemeral Document
Letter from the HKADC to the Researcher
List of Publication of Photo Pictorial Limited
Postcard by OP
Postcard by Siu Ding
Postcard of WONG K F by Photo Pictorial
Richard YEE’s handwriting to the Researcher

Leaflet
A collection of leaflet and publicity of Lumenvisum

Magazine
Dislocation Issue 18 : Travel Photography
Mahjong 2
On the Scene - 照想生活,呼吸城市 香港當代攝影
An incomplete collection of Photo Pictorial (of 194 issues)

Monograph
106 men, 69 women and 10 in between by Kary KWOK
City Glow - Simon Chi-Chung WAN
Drift City 10 Years 2000-2010 by Kacey WONG
Handkerchief Photo Album by Amy CHEUNG and Erkka NISSINEN
Hong Kong x 24 x 365 / A Year in the Life of a City by David CLARKE
Hong Kong night and day photo by Makoto SHIBATA
John Choy - Hong Kong Photographers Series
Pure: Obsessive Art Photography 1988 - 2001 by Julian LEE
Suspending Torso - Julian LEE
The Blues / Photographs by Alfred KO
Fine Works by 25 Outstanding Photographers - 30th Anniversary Memorial Publication by Photo-Pictorial (1994) 二十五家攝影精品集:紀念攝影畫報出版三十週年
Dàdì fānténg liùshí nián﹣ qìngzhù zhōnghuá rénmín gònghéguó chénglì liùshí zhōunián 大地翻騰六十年 ﹣ 慶祝中華人民共和國成立六十周年

Print Catalogue
OP Edition Catalogue (1996-97) (of 6 copies)

PDF
Besides these physical inventories, writer Carmen Shawy LEE also provides 80 scanned PDFs of her writings in newspaper and magazine in the 1980s and 1990s (in digital format).

All these printed materials are scattered founds on photography in Hong Kong during the research process. As diverse as they are, however, I would like to pinpoint to a few items that shape a following thematic discussion of this research project, that is the legacy of salon photography in Hong Kong since the mid of the twentieth century.

They are exhibition catalogue Vision Beyond - Hong Kong Art Photography 1900-2000 published by the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, the incomplete collection of Photo Pictorial, as well as two monographs that is published by Photo Pictorial that celebrate the 30th anniversary of Photo Pictorial (二十五家攝影精品集:紀念攝影畫報出版三十週年 ) and the 60th commemoration of the establishment of the PRC (大地翻騰六十年 ﹣ 慶祝中華人民共和國成立六十周年).

Beyond the Archive: Pointing to other Art Archive and Research Platform in Hong Kong

My method in mapping has its own limitation, that is being, conversation and knowledge to working photographer is proportionally ‘absent’. However, one can access another large-scale oral history project to photographer at the Hong Kong Art Archive, Hong Kong Heritage Museum.
Since 1996, the curatorial team member (such as Assistant Curator Eve TAM and Curator Judy Suk-yee CHAN) institutes the Hong Kong Art Archive in the Museum for research and future publication, along side with collection of photography. The Archive collects document and publication across disciplines, that is art critique, art education, art publication, ceramics, calligraphy, curator, designer-artist, digital/computer art, gallery owner, installation, mixed media, print-making, painting: Chinese media, photography, painting: Western media, sculpture and video art. The categorisation itself reveals the Museum’s direction in terms of collection structure. Under the photography section, there are 160 photographers in files.

From 1996 to 1998, the Museum commissioned two researchers who happen to two of the interviewees in this project, respectively WONG Wo-bik and Blues Kai-yu WONG. They two conduct a series of interviews to photographers who are active in the 1990s. The interviews are taped in cassette and the list of interviewees is as follows (as of February 2013),

C1. Leo CHAN
C2. Stephen CHEUNG
C3. Osbert LAM
C4. Alfred KO
C5. KWAN Pun Leung
C6. LEE Tak Chuen, NG Sai Kit, YEUNG Chun Kei
C7. Joan Boivin
C8. Denise N. WELDON
C9. Almond CHU
C10. LEUNG Chi Wo
C11. CHAN Wai Fun
C12. Michael LEE
C13. CHAN Wai Man
C14. Fredrick FUNG
C15. Karl CHIU
C16. CHAN Yiu Hung
C17. CHENG Yat Yue
C18. Wing SHYA
C20. CHAN Pak Kin
C21. YU Yuen Hong
C22. Wucius WONG
C23. Frances CHAN
C24. WONG Kin Choy
C25. Erica LAU
C26. WONG Siu Yee, WONG Chun Wai, YUEN Man Wah
C27. KOO Chiu Ping, CHAN Mei Wah, CHOW Wai Ming
C28. KWAN Tin Wing, LAU Gukzik, WONG Siu Ka, MA Kwok Wing
C29. LEE Ka Sing, LEUNG Ho Man
C30. CHAN Hon Bill, YAM Man Yee, Holly WONG LEE
C31. Yvonne LO, WONG Kei Kwan, CHAN Lok Yee, CHAN Wing Hoi, Leo
C32. Joseph FUNG, CHAN Yin Ming
C33. NG Tsz Yan, Marwin MA, HO Siu Chuen
C34. YIP Kam Tim, YUNG Kwok Yin, WONG Chun Fei
C35. CHAN Chi Wai, LAM Yuk Wah, CHAN Ka Hing
C36. YUEN Shu Kei, TO Sau Lui, LAM Siu Ping
C37. WONG Siu Ki, KWAN Wing Kuen, Victor WONG, Eddy
C38. WONG Chung Ching, CHEUNG Kwok Wah
C39. WONG Wai Kin, CHAN Chun Tak
C40. LAU Yum Tung
C41. LEE Tung Keung
C42. LEE Tung Keung
C43. Jerry KWAN
C44. HUI Ching Yeh
C45. CHUI Tze Hung
C46. Joseph FUNG
C47. FUNG Ho Yin
C48. LAM Wai Yu
C49. Maria HUNG
C50. HU Kang
C51. CHEN Ping
C52. TSE Ming Chong
C53. TONG Ying Wai
C54. KEUNG Ping Chung
C55. KWOK Chui Leung
C56. WONG Kuen Hun

Besides these taped interviews to photographers and artists conducted by WONG Wo-bik and Blues Kai Yu WONG, the Hong Kong Art Archive at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum has been compiling research folders of individual photographer who works in Hong Kong, that is accessible onsite, by appointment. These research folders are organised in the following format

Hong Kong Heritage Museum Information Index 香港文化博物館

  1. Artist Record Sheet 藝術家資料記錄表
  2. Biography 小傳
  3. Exhibition Materials 展覽資料
  4. Newspaper Cuttings/ Magazine Articles 剪報/刊登文章
  5. Works in HKHM Collection 香港文化博物館藏品
    - 135 Slide 幻燈片
    - Photos 相片
    - Photo Negative 底片
    - Others 其它
  6. List of Publications/ Catalogues 著作/目錄
  7. Audio-visual References 影音資料
    - Cassette Tape 錄音帶
    - Videotape 錄影帶
    - CD Rom
    - Others 其它
  8. Other Information 其它
    - e.g. 訪問稿 Interview Transcript

The following is the list of research folders (by individual, count of 160) under the photography category at the Museum Archive (as of February 2013)

ABERHART, Laurence  I00741     ---     ABERHART, Laurence -
BOHAMME, Pierre  I00605     ---     BOHAMME, Pierre -
BOIVIN, Joan  I00144     ---     BOIVIN, Joan -
CAI Jiayan  I00225     ---     CHOI Ka-yin, Lewis 蔡嘉彥
CAI Junsan I00750    ---    TSAI Chun-sam 蔡俊三
CHEN Chanjuan  I00718     ---     CHAN Sim-kuen, Katherine 陳嬋娟
CHEN Dechang   I00574     ---      CHAN, Ringo 陳德昌
CHEN Donglong  I00612     ---     CHAN Tung-lung 陳東龍
CHEN Fuli   I00239     ---     CHAN Fook-lai 陳復禮
CHEN Hai   I00235     ---      CHAN Hoi, David 陳 海
CHEN Hanbiao   I00089     ---     CHAN Hon-biu, Rex 陳漢標
CHEN Huifen  I00149     ---     CHAN Wai-fun 陳惠芬
CHEN Ji   I00250     ---     CHAN Chik 陳 迹
CHEN Kailing  I00086     ---     CHAN, S.F. Frances 陳愷令
CHEN Leyi I00129     ---     CHAN Lok-yee, George 陳樂儀
CHEN Ping I00616     ---     CHAN Ping 陳 平
CHEN Ronghai I00079     ---     CHAN Wing-hoi, Leo 陳榮海
CHEN Ruju I00226     ---     CHAN Yu-kui 陳汝炬
CHEN Shaowen I00618     ---     CHAN Siu-man 陳紹文
CHEN Weimin I00058     ---     CHAN Wai-man, Raymond 陳偉民
CHEN Xiuhua I00627     ---      CHAN Sau-wah 陳秀華
CHEN Yaoxiong I00156     ---     CHAN Yiu-hung 陳耀雄
CHEN Yinghoi I00744      ---     CHEN Ying-hoi 陳迎愷
CHEN Yongjia I00755     ---      TRAN, Robert 陳榮家
CHEN Zanyun I00346     ---     CHEN, C.W. Michael 陳贊雲
CLEMENT, Serge I00384     ---     CLEMENT, Serge -
DAVIS, Bob I00152     ---     DAVIS, Bob 鮑大偉
DENG Jurong I00401     ----     TANG Kui-wing, Ringo 鄧鉅榮
DOYLE, Christopher I00549      ---     DOYLE, Christopher 杜可風
DU Huan I00270     ---      TO Wun 杜 煥
FENG Guoliang I00151     ---      FUNG, Frederick 馮國樑
FENG Hanji I00112      ---      FUNG Hon-kee, Joseph 馮漢紀
FENG Jianzhong I00620     ---     FUNG Kin-chung, John 馮健中
FENG Wenyao I00747     ---     FUNG Man-yiu, Jolans 馮文耀
FORD, Norman Jackson I00626     ---     FORD, Norman Jackson -
GAO Zhiqiang I00091     ---     KO Chi-keung, Alfred 高志強
GUAN Benliang I00123     ---      KWAN Pun-leung 關本良
GUAN Bide I00617     ---     KWAN, Peter 關彼德
GUAN Daoyi I00234     ---     KWAN To-ngai 關道毅
GUAN Tianrong I00080     ---      KWAN Ting-wing, Edwin 關天榮
GUO Jiaci I00482     ---      KWOK Ka-che, Kary 郭家賜
GUO Wenlong I00393     ---     KWOK Man-lung 郭文龍
HE Genqiang I00238      ---      HO Kan-keung 何根強
HE Jiequan I00615     ---      HO Chit-chuen 何節全
HE Shaozhong I00499     ---     HO, Billy 何少中
HUANG Bingpei, Stanley I00731     ---      WONG Ping-pui, Stanley 黃炳
HUANG Chuqiao I00113     ---      LEE, Holly 黃楚喬
HUANG Guiquan I00230     ---     WONG Kwai-kuen, Leo 黃貴權
HUANG Guocai I00735     ---      WONG Kwok-choi, Kacey 黃國才
HUANG Jiahan I00243     ---     WONG Ka-hon, Nixon 黃嘉漢
HUANG Qindai I00394      ---     WONG Ken-tai, Ken 黃勤帶
HUANG Shengji I00236     ---    WONG Shing-kay 黃勝基
HUANG Songhui I00739     ---     WONG, Adam 黃松輝
HUANG Songjing I00122      ---     WONG Chung-ching 黃頌菁
HUANG Xisheng I00244     ---     WONG, Cambo 黃喜勝
HUANG Yongxi I00245     ---     WONG, Sam 黃永熹
HUANG Zhihui I00175      ---      WONG Chi-fai 黃志輝
JIAN Qingfu I00047      ---      KAN Hing-fook 簡慶福
JIN Ming I00396     ---     JIN Ming, Do Do 金 旻
LANG Jingshan I00609     ---      LANG Jingshan 郎靜山
LEI Chaoguang I00237     ---     LUI Cheuk-kwong 雷焯光
LEI Luping I00710     ---     LEI Luping 雷魯平
LI Baoxun I00395    ---     LEE Po-fun, Lester 李寶勳
LI Decheng I00567     ---     LEE Tak-shing 李德成
LI Dequan I00138      ---     LEE Tak-chuen 李德銓
LI Guoquan I00725     ---     LEE Kwok-chuen, Woody 李國泉
LI Jianqiang I00383     ---     LAI Kin-keung, Edwin 黎健強
LI Jiasheng I00083     ---     LEE Ka-sing, Wingo 李家昇
LI Leshi I00399     ---     LEE Lok-see, Rebecca 李樂詩
LI Qianhe I00699     ---     LI Qianhe 李謙和
LI Song I00749     ---     LI Sung 李崧
LI Yicheng I00150      ---    LI, Michael 李以誠
LI Zhichao I00494     ---     LEE, Julian 李志超
LI Zhifang I00148     ---     LEE Chi-fong, Patrick 李志芳
LIANG Jiatai I00155     ---     LEONG Ka-tai 梁家泰
LIANG Jiyao I00717     ---     LEUNG Kai-yiu 梁繼堯
LIANG Qingliu I00613     ---     LEUNG Hing-lau 梁慶鎏
LIANG Songji I00342     ---     LEUNG Chung-kay, Stephen梁頌基
LIANG Yaohui I00344     ---     LEUNG Yiu-fai, Josiah 梁耀輝
LIANG Zhihe I00096     ---     LEUNG Chi-wo, Warren 梁志和
LIN Shichang I00136     ---     LAM Sai-cheung, Osbert 林世昌
LIN Xuhui I00681     ---     LAM Yuk-fai 林旭輝
LIN Yiqing I00496      ---      LAM Ngai-ching 林藝青
LIU Qingping I00345      ---      LAU Ching-ping 劉清平
LIU Tizhi I00233      ---      LAU, T.C. 劉體志
LONG Bide I00752       ---     DRAGON, Peter 龍彼得
LU Dechu I00757      ---      LO Tak-cho 盧德初
LU Juchuan I00517      ---     LO Kui-chuen 盧巨川
LU Wanwen I00097      ---     LO Yuen-man, Yvonne 盧婉雯
LU Zhaoming I00490      ---      LO Chiu-ming 盧昭明
LUO Shengzhuang I00261      ---      LO Sun-chang 羅聖莊
LUO Sumin I00559     ---      LO, Soman 羅蘇民
MACK, Sarah I00743     ---      MACK, Sarah -
MAI Feng I00347      ---      MAK Fung 麥 烽
MAI Wen I00241      ---     MAK Yan 麥 穩
MAI Zhufa I00240      ---      MAK Chu-fat 麥柱發
OU Huilian I00532      ---     AU Wai-lin 歐惠蓮
OU Jiali I00527      ---     AU Ka-lai, Sonia 歐嘉麗
OU Manxuan I00400      ---       AU Man-suen, Anita 區曼璇
PAN Dawei I00592      ---      PAN Dawei 潘達微
PAN Ribo I00628      ---      PUN Yet-pore 潘日波
QIAN Wanli I00242      ---     CHIN, Manly 錢萬里
QIU Liang I00092      ---     YAU Leung 邱 良
SABOL, Paul I00137      ---     SABOL, Paul -
SCHAEL, Carsten I00141      ---     SCHAEL, Carsten 施雅惇
SHEN Jiahao I00146      ---     SHAM Ka-ho, Bobby 沈嘉豪
SHEN Zhenming I00728      ---     SHUM, Jimmy 沈掁明
SHI Deyan I00727      ---     SIY Tak-yin 施德燕
SHUI Hetian I00708     ---     POON, Water 水禾田
STONE, Robert I00719     ---     STONE, Robert -
SU Qingqiang I00262     ---     SO Hing-keung 蘇慶強
TAN Ning I00629      ---     TAM Ning 譚 寧
TAN Yongyi I00698      ---     TAN Yongyi 譚永逸
TANG Xiaochao I00247     ---     TONG, Ankor 唐小超
WANG Hebi I00114     ---     WONG Wo-bik 王禾璧
WANG Jiancai I00019      ---     WONG Kin-choy 王健材
WANG Miao I00397      ---     WANG Miao 王 苗
WANG Xishen I00224      ---      WONG Hi-sun, Hisun 王希慎
WELDON , Denise M. I00145      ---      WELDON, Denise M. -
WENG Disen I00176      ---      YEWN, D.S. Dickson 翁狄森
WENG Weiquan I00061       ---      YUNG Wai-chuen, Peter 翁維銓
WU Qihou I00232      ---     WU, K.H. 鄔圻厚
WU Shijie I00140     ---     NG Sai-kit 吳世傑
WU Wenzheng I00387     ---     NG Man-ching 吳文正
WU Zhangjian I00631      ---     WU, Francis 吳章建
XIA Yaowen I00632     ---     HA Yiu-man 夏耀文
XIA Yongkang I00158     ---     SHYA Wing-hong, Wing 夏永康
XIAN Weijiang I00633     ---     SIN Wai-keung 冼偉強
XIAO Jianxun I00614      ---     SIU, K.F. Francis 蕭建勳
XIE Jianhua I00754     ---     TSE Kin-wah, Galen 謝建華
XIE Mingzhuang I00095      ---      TSE Ming-chong 謝明莊
XU Changtai I00589      ---     HUI Cheung-tai, Sam 許長泰
XUE Zijiang I00751     ---     XUE Zijiang 薛子江
YAN Zhendong I00231     ---       NGAN Chun-tung 顏震東
YANG Fan I00548     ---     YEUNG Fan 楊 凡
YANG Zhenji I00139     ---     YEUNG Chun-kie 楊振基
YE Jintian I00063      ---      YIP Kam-tim 葉錦添
YE Qinglin I00622      ---     YIP, Alain 葉青霖
YIN Minzhi I00625      ---     YAN Man-chi, Sunny 甄民志
YIN ZiCong I00746      ---      WAN Chi-chung, Simon 尹子聰
YU Weijian I00153      ---      YU Wai-kin, Vincent 余偉健
ZENG Deping I00159      ---     TSANG Tak-ping, Keith 曾德平
ZENG Guanhui I00246      ---      TSANG Koon-fai, Kenny 曾觀輝
ZENG Jinquan I00634      ---       TSANG Kam-chuen, Mike 曾錦泉
ZHAI Jinwen I00621      ---     CHAK Kam-man 翟錦文
ZHANG Bogen I00046      ---     CHEUNG Pak-kan 張伯根
ZHANG Liqin I00251      ---     CHEUNG, Nelson 張立勤
ZHANG Michael I00729      ---      CHEUNG, Michael 張卓文
ZHANG Wenhua I00249      ---      CHEUNG Man-wah 張文華
ZHANG Yiping I00135      ---     CHEUNG, Stephen 張益平
ZHANG Zhiping I00258      ---      CHEONG, Ban 張志平
ZHANG Zhiwei I00154      ---      CHEUNG Chi-wai 張志偉
ZHAO Jiarong I00084      ---      CHIU Ka-wing, Karl 趙嘉榮
ZHAO Zhongkai I00143     ---     CHIU Chung-hoi, Victor 趙仲凱
ZHENG Dage I00406     ---     CHENG Tai-kwo 鄭大戈
ZHENG Jingkang I00753     ---    ZHENG Jingkang 鄭景康
ZHENG Yiyu I00157     ---     CHENG Yat-yue 鄭逸宇
ZHOU Runsheng I00252     ---     CHAU, Jennifer 周潤笙
ZHU Dehua I00147     ---    CHU Tak-wah, Almond 朱德華

Besides the Hong Kong Art Archive at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, there is another Hong Kong Art Archive, founded by Prof. David Clarke, at the Department of Fine Arts, the University of Hong Kong (http://finearts.hku.hk/hkaa). Under the ‘Article’ section, there are writings and interviews to photographer that is accessible online. The following are a selection of articles and interviews on photography on that platform,

Locating Hong Kong Photography in a Regional Context: The Legacy of Salon Photography and its Relevance in a Regional Perspective

 

‘Hong Kong, a territory of humble size, has made distinguished achievements in the study of photographic art over a short period of just over two decades. In particular, Hong Kong’s success over the last 15 years has been admirable thus earning it the name of “Salon Kingdom”.’

K.C. CHEW (1969), ‘Fifteen Years of Photography in Hong Kong’ in Photography in Hong Kong, 1954-69

‘… in the bitter post-war world the subject matter favoured by the salons-mistwreathed landscapes, soft-focus portraits, picturesque street scenes or bird-and-flower compositions-looked hopelessly only our touch with economic or political reality’

Matthew TURNER (1997,) On Hong Kong

‘In terms of salon photography, I have no intention to see it as ‘high art’ or to position it in a superior sense. It is not a serious art per se, it is merely a leisure play; however, the nature of such has its own social functions. (The affluents spend their leisure time with camera and in the darkroom. Despite endlessly consuming film and developing chemicals, which is not environmental-friendly, I cannot think of any drawback of the practice – to the very least, it is much ethical to other hedonism such as alcoholism and gambling.) Its existence and value may not be inferior to other photographing activities such as fine art photography and social documentary. However, when it comes to a moment when salon photographer and uncritical mass media co-produce a grandeur discourse of salon photography in its most ambivalent manner, when ‘the photographer club’ employs that grandeur discourse to promote salon photography years after years, that grandeur discourse has its political function and social/ cultural manipulation, it is of urgency to critically examine the hegemony of salon photography in the context of Taiwan.’

KUO Li-hsin (1998), Writing Photography: Text and Culture of Photograph (translation mine)


Introduction: Locating Salon Photography insides and outsides Hong Kong

The previous two chapters deal with, first of all, the historical and contextual conditions of photographic practice in Hong Kong since the 1960s; secondly, by annotating research deliverables for this project and locating existing research resources in photography in Hong Kong, my intention is to provide an organised mapping and annotation to the research field that facilitates my, also future fellow researcher, understanding in and access to researching photography in Hong Kong. 

The first two chapters have its own descriptive function and purpose. Coming to this chapter, it is a thematic discussion of my research experience in a chosen practice in photography in Hong Kong – Salon Photography (or Pictorialism). Photographic practice in Hong Kong in the past five decades has been developed and enjoys a high level of prevalence, pervasiveness and popularity. The democratic nature of photography authorises not only popularity but also arrays of development in terms of style, genre and creative intent. In many encounters during the research period, a trace to the ‘root’ of ‘Salon Photography’ becomes a normative discourse to describe what Salon Photography is in/to Hong Kong.

Salon Photography in Hong Kong

A brief introduction to the Salon Photography, as a phenomenon in the discourse of photography in Hong Kong, would serve as a backdrop for further discussion in this chapter. After WWII, Hong Kong is a ‘Kingdom of Salon Photography’ with remarkably large number of photographers winning the ‘World’s Top Ten’ photographers, to name a few, HO Fan, KAN Hing-fook, TCHAN Fou-li, Leo K.K. WONG, Francis WU frequent this title not only once, but many times, since the 1950s. A Salon Empire almost becomes a distinctive feature when we take a rear view of a contemporary history of photography in Hong Kong. Amateur photographer, or self-taught enthusiast, produces photographic work and uses that work to enter competition and exhibition, as the spirit of ‘Salon’ worldwide. Such photographic practice is very often regarded as a leisure (non-occupational), affluent bourgeoisie play (to own an analogue camera in the 1950s is equivalent to a monthly salary of the blue-collar) by male photographer. Photography club, salon exhibitors association and photographer’s association (often founded by teacher of photography and/or other art and culture interest group) are platforms that attract individual practice. Salon Photography is usually characterised by its artistry and technicality – to make a well developed print for a perfect composition for a decisive moment. Visual content of photograph varies from landscape, portraiture, still-life and street photography. Salon photographer’s work is often regarded as ‘technically competent’ and ‘a leisure to see’. In critical and contemporary art discourse, however, a ‘technically competent’ and ‘a leisure to see’ photographic image that is so prevalent and popular has been frequently interrogated of its lack in creative and conceptual intents, or, being an escape from social reality comparing to the documentary tradition.

Salon Photography has been living in its self-contained space for decades in Hong Kong. Popular magazine and photographer’s club publish work, organise exhibition and related activity in that space, and for that space.

It was not until the moment of handover of sovereignty in Hong Kong, ‘coincidentally’, that there is an institutional attempt to recollect and reconstruct a legacy of Salon Photography in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Heritage Museum, formerly the ‘Regional Museum’, curates a series of exhibition with a curatorial emphasis to celebrate Salon Photography as an exemplary and of significance to Hong Kong photography. In 2001, the Photographic Salon Exhibitors Association (in Hong Kong) (PESA) jointly organises with the Museum the very first large-scale retrospective exhibition in photography - the ‘Vision Beyond – Hong Kong Art Photography 1900-2000’ exhibition.

The ‘Vision Beyond’ exhibition is an overview of Hong Kong art photography in a century through institutional attempt. Salon Photography is ‘chosen’ to ‘represent’ Hong Kong art photography, by the large amount of photographer’s works that is included in the exhibition, through collaboration with the PSEA, and the generation of huge amount of research material and historical records of Salon Photography in Hong Kong.

In 2009, another large-scale exhibition is presented at the Museum – ‘The Verve of Light and Shadow: Master Photographers Tchan Fou-li, Kan Hing-fook, Leo K.K. Wong’. This time, an affirmation to the status and significance of Salon Photography to Hong Kong is rendered in appearance – three master photographers in Salon Photography across generations.

These two retrospective exhibitions provide clues to look into institutional attempt, thus the role of Museum, in reconstructing a Legacy of Salon Photography in Hong Kong in the recent decade. Through an overview of the glorious days in the past, the Museum recollects then reconstructs the legacy of Salon Photography in Hong Kong, through the employment of ‘art photography’ and the authorisation of ‘master photographer’. The recollection of historicity is not merely a tribute nor acknowledgment but empowering the ‘voiceless’ and ‘uncritical’ salon photograph. Continuing the line of thought from Matthew Turner in the previous passage, the serenity and everydayness of Salon Photography neutralises our way of seeing, silences the unrest of the ambience, and decorates an empty exhibition hall. It’s a process of invention and reconsolidation of ideology – museum invents master, and, reconstructs a legacy through nostalgia. Master represents a photographic practice of the mass. A mass practice draws the silent majority to contemplate pictorial perfection and achieve a pleasure to see yet visual and ideological importance of the medium.

At this point, I hope I am able to come to describing some dominant discursive patterns of Salon Photography in Hong Kong – Salon Photography is a prevalent photographic practice by generations of photographer in recent history; popular photographic magazine, such as Photo Pictorial, publishes works for photographers and general public; it enjoys its own grandeur in its own self-contained environment through the photographer’s clubs; it is recently authorised by a public museum that Salon Photography is an exemplary to Hong Kong and is significant to the history of photography in recent Hong Kong.

At the beginning of the chapter, I bring in three authors across time and place, of K.C. Chew’s affirmative writing to Salon Photography from the late 1960s, of Matthew Turner’s criticism to Salon Photography in Hong Kong from the late 1990s, as well as of KUO Li-hsin’s insight to Salon Photography from a Taiwan context. Salon Photography is doubtlessly significant to Hong Kong, yet it has been heavily criticised of its apolitical visual mentality (Turner, 1997). A hegemony of salon photography, that is of political function, is not only exclusive to Hong Kong but other Chinese speaking location (c.f. Kuo, 1998). In light of these, how could we make sense of the role of Salon Photography in Hong Kong in a regional regard? What is the relevance of Salon Photography of Hong Kong to our geographical neighbourhood? How apolitical could Salon Photography be? Could we see Salon Photography in a cultural-political way?

MAK Fung once mentions the role of Photo Pictorial in a Southeast Asian context. In the writing titled ‘The Publishing Origins of Photo Pictorial’ (Issue 396, July 1998), MAK explains, in the 1950s, Chinese publishing becomes popular in Hong Kong and yet the distribution market is not solely in Hong Kong. Chinese Publishing, in the case of magazine, is pointed to distribution outlet in Southeast Asia where overseas Chinese settles. Indonesia, as MAK remarks, is the largest import of Chinese magazine from Hong Kong. Towards the end of the article, MAK remarks ‘Photo Pictorial has its own significance in the development of photographic practice in Hong Kong as well as the execution of the PRC’s Overseas Chinese Policy.’ (translation and emphasis mine) MAK’s remark reshapes how we, at least I, see and position Salon Photography in Hong Kong. Pictorially served as an escape of social and political reality, yet some of the photographer and the backstager who run this genre could be of high relevance to the execution of the Overseas Chinese Policy of the PRC. The publishing venture of of Photo Pictorial, in particular some biographical annotation to LI Qing, the publisher who finances Photo Pictorial since its very beginning, may provide evidence to discuss Salon Photography in a regional regard.

Photo Pictorial: An Annotation to ‘an Eye of China’

Photo Pictorial (1964 – 2005) is a monthly photography magazine founded by MAK Fung (1918 – 2009), LI Qing (d. 1973) and TCHAN Fou-li (b. 1916). MAK Fung and TCHAN Fou-li are photographers who have been known in the context of Hong Kong photographic community. And yet, LI Qing, an experienced pro-Communist publisher, due to his absence in producing photographic work, is also absent in the discussion of history of photography in Hong Kong.

LI Qing, as MAK remarks in the previous articles, formerly the Editor of The Young Companion (Liangyou Huabao), relocates to Hong Kong in the mid 1950s and founds several photographic publishing ventures. Photo Pictorial is not the first attempt of MAK, LI and TCHAN. There were Photoart (1960-1963) and The Camera Club (1956 – 1960) in prior to Photo Pictorial. Camera Club is the first publishing venture of the group, a free supplementary insert in the New China Pictorial. Photoart is the second attempt that MAK, TCHAN and S.F. DANG. Independent from any magazine, Photoart, a bilingual magazine, is intended to position and promote fine art photography in Hong Kong. Photoart first comes into appearance in August 1960. After a four-year struggle in bridging fine art photography to the public, it discontinues in November 1963. In July 1964, Photo Pictorial comes into inception and enjoys popularity and pervasiveness over four decades. The failure of Photoart reflects that ‘photography’ could not survive as being a state of ‘art’ but merely ‘pictorial’. On another note, Photoart is reprinted from October 1980 to 1996 by YAU Leung, another senior Salon Photographer in Hong Kong.

These publishing ventures in photography could have been said to have close proximity to PRC in a cultural-political sense. LI Qing, the founding member, is an experienced pro-Communist publisher who has a strong bonding with LIAO Chengzhi (1908-1983), a diplomat who is responsible for the PRC United Front Strategy in Hong Kong. LIAO was Director of the Xinhau News Agency and run the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office (Qiao Ban). Since the 1950s, LI actively contributed writing in pro-Communist newspapers in Hong Kong such as Wenweipao, Taikungpao and Newwenpao. In the 1950s, LI was commissioned by LIAO to found a photography magazine in Hong Kong so as to congregate overseas Chinese youth. MAK Fung was an accountant at a yarn factory and was invited by LI to be on the editorial board of the publication. TCHEN Fou-li was a merchant and became an active editorial member in Photo Pictorial after September 1973.

Both LI Qing and LIAO Chengzhi play an imperative role in shaping Salon Photography in Hong Kong, outsides PRC. Both LI and LIAO, rather invisible in the existing discourse in the history of photography in Hong Kong, could be regarded as backstage patron to organise and mobilise individual attempt in salon photography and patriotism outsides the Communist China – Salon Photography, as a leisure play of the affluence, could be translated to a cultural-political apparatus that congregates nationalistic youth, usually male, and as a mean to promote patriotism outsides PRC. Apart from founding and funding a platform to publish photographer’s work, there are attempts under the façade of ‘travel photography’. In the closed door PRC, travelling and photographing China is not as accessible as what we can think of in today’s equivalence. Photographing tours for Salon Photographer were organised. The tour does not only result many of the landscape and travel photography in Photo Pictorial, that also help promoting tourism to overseas Chinese through the eye’s of photographer, or served as a reminder of the beauty of ‘motherland’.

Of it closed proximity to the Communist Party, Photo Pictorial was the only imported photography popular magazine in PRC before the 1980s. As Sylvia NG witnesses, Photo Pictorial takes the advantage of LI Qing’s influence and connection in Mainland China and easily and exclusively lands itself as the first generation of imported magazine in the ‘official subscription list’. The exclusivity and monopoly in printed media of Photo Pictorial in the closed door PRC is not only significant to the magazine itself but positions magazine from Hong Kong as a ‘medium’ between PRC and the Chinese speaking population outsides the Communist territories. In the interview with NG, we come to a conclusion that Photo Pictorial works as a ‘window’ of China before the Open Door Policy on many levels. The pre-1990s was the time when there is no Internet (let alone the Great Firewall and Internet censorship) and lack of information. Printed magazine takes up an imperative role to bridge China and the outside world. Mainland Chinese photographer publishes their work in Photo Pictorial – that allows reader who is outsides China to see China. Influence by the Communist Party, through staged reportage and propaganda and travel photography, photography is manipulated not only a representation of reality but to implant ideological control outsides China. On the other hand, people living in China use Photo Pictorial as platform to see what happens outsides China. The advertisement that Photo Pictorial carries also allow people living in China to understand photographic equipment and technology that could be of severe lack under the Communist regime. At the border of China, Photo Pictorial in Hong Kong is the ‘window’ in a closed glazed door - to allow people on the outside to see the interior in limited vision (the host can unveil and reveal the ‘curtain’), and to allow people on the inside to see the big world.

However, the ‘window’ itself is not politically-neutral, censorship is imposed before the magazine goes into the territory. Two incidents that NG shares in the interview, for examples, the banning of reportage at Tiananmen before the June Forth Incident in 1989 (in May 1989); in Issue 310 (May 1991), Danny YUNG publishes a series of photography with parody to the portrayal of Chinese political leader in Dislocation section. The spread of YUNG’s photography is banned before going into China. Even though the editorial team does not impose self-censorship on sensitive subject matter, the ‘curtain’ of censorship and filtering still exists.

At the turn of the new millennium, Photo Pictorial adds a footnote to denote to the bonding to China. On Issue 414 (Jan 2000), there is a tagline ‘WITH CHINA JOINING THE WTO, OUR MAGAZINE WILL ASSIST READERS TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CHINA AND ITS PEOPLE, CULTURES, SCENERY AND GEOGRAPHIC REGION’. This tagline is replaced by a simpler four-word phrase ‘AN EYE ON CHINA’ in the next issue (415, February 2000), and continues to issue 461 (December 2003). The end of China’s Closed-door policy makes Photo Pictorial vocalises and acknowledges the long-term bonding with China and the political regime.

On another note, in a research report on arts and cultural policy in Hong Kong compiled by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, titled ‘Hong Kong Arts and Cultural Policy Review’ (1950-1997) (2000), it is said that before the 1950 border captivity (Guan Jin) (the ban on station to suspend importing and exporting activities between border) between the Sino-Anglo border of colonial Hong Kong and PRC. In 1946, Sino-British Club was founded with the promotion of drama, music and ‘Salon Photography’ (Section 6, 2000, HKADC). This is another trace of artistic and cultural exchange between the closed door China and the ‘outsides’ world via the use of Salon Photography.

Dadi fanteng liushi nian: An Comprehension of the Cultural Politics of Salon Photography between Hong Kong and PRC

Other than Photo Pictorial, the cultural-political influence of Salon Photography between Hong Kong and PRC becomes much more vocalised and written in another publication. In 2009, an anthology is published by a group of photographers in Hong Kong to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Establishment of the PRC, titled Dadi fanteng liushi nian – qingzhu zhonghua renmin gongheguo chengli liushi zhounian. The editorial committee is composed of Leo K.K. WONG, Sylvia NG, CHAN Ping and many others. The anthology covers reviews and biographical writings of the long-term relationship between Salon Photographers from Hong Kong and their participation in the Chinese affairs – ranging from photographer’s group and the activity, social leisure gathering, exhibition, publication and the China travel tour, followed by works of photographers on China landscape in the past four decades. If we consider the voice of patriotism and nationalism is a hidden agenda in Photo Pictorial, the degree of ‘self-disclosure’ by Hong Kong (Salon) Photographers to their connections to PRC comes to the most noticeable fashion in this anthology. Heavily grounded by facts, photograph (as historical document) and fuelled with patriotism, writings Leo K.K. WONG (Salon Photographer in Hong Kong), ZHOU Yi (the Vice-president of Wenweipo, a Pro-Communist newspaper in Hong Kong), YU Chengde, Sylvia NG, TSANG Kajie and CHEN Bo describe in the greatest details and extents of the 60 years of connection (even longer) of Salon Photographers in Hong Kong and the PRC.

Salon Photography in Hong Kong, I argue, is not merely a pictorial style in photography. A socio-cultural reading of the emergence of Salon Photography and Salon Photographer in Hong Kong embarks a cultural-political dimension in understanding ‘the use of photography’ in the regional context. Salon Photography to Hong Kong is not merely the pursue of perfection in pictorial style and technicality, nor the avoidance of socio-cultural-political unrest; Salon Photographer to Hong Kong is not only a leisure bourgeoisie play of the (male) affluent and amateur photographer and photographer’s group. The emergence and the efflorescence of Salon Photography to Hong Kong could be read in a cultural-political sense, that is, early activity around Salon Photography in Hong Kong, such as publishing venture and tourism, is an extension of the PRC’s Overseas Chinese Policy - employing a leisure and affluent play to congregate nationalistic youth outsides the territories. At the fringe of the PRC, Salon Photography in Hong Kong, its circulation and distribution, and the photographer-practitioner network, could be explained by its geographical specificity in a Greater China extent. Salon Photography is utilised as a ‘window’, or ‘an eye on China’, between the colonised Hong Kong and the closed- door China. Practicing Salon Photography outsides the communist territories is a cultural apparatus devised by the PRC to connect, congregate and consolidate overseas Chinese in Hong Kong, and beyond. When we think of Hong Kong as a major commercial entrepôt since its inception – as a gateway to import and export commercial good between China and the rest of the world – the activity and configuration behind Salon Photography in Hong Kong may be read as – Hong Kong as a cultural entrepôt to conduit communism and patriotism through Salon Photography. The male, affluent, amateur Salon Photographers are the agents to bridge and sustain communism outsides China. The often marginalised territory is of central importance to connect and connote a regional mapping and conceptualisation of Salon Photographic practice in Southeast Asia in the Twentieth Century.

Salon Photography as a cultural apparatus outsides the Communist China does not rest at Hong Kong. When we imagine the geopolitical characteristic of this borrowed city, Hong Kong’s proximity to China offers a definite advantage to invent the city into a cultural entrepôt as aforementioned. Extending and imagining towards a regional map, with the help and distribution of Photo Pictorial, communism and patriotism can be reached throughout Southeast Asia. Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia are the distribution outlet of Photo Pictorial to say the least. Photo Pictorial also features photographer’s work in the region, for example K.F. WONG, and includes writings that describe photographic activity in respective Southeast Asia countries. The scope of this research project may not be sufficient to delineate a bigger photographic mapping in the context of Southeast Asia that is informed by communism, patriotism and Salon Photography. Yet future research direction could be casted on the traffic and trafficking of photographic activity in the Southeast Asia context in relation to Communist China. The Dato’ Loke Wan Tho’s collection, now permanently resides at the National Art Gallery Malaysia at Kuala Lumpur, can be considered as another starting point of such regional mapping. LOKE is a Malaysia- born Singaporean who practises photography (in particular ornithology, the study of birds). Being the ninth son of Loke Yew, Loke Wan Tho is a successful entrepreneur who founds both the Cathay Organisation in Malaysia and Singapore and the Motion Picture and General Investments Limited (also known as Cathay Dianmao, a film production company) in Hong Kong. Apart from entrepreneurship and photographing birds in his leisure time, Loke Wan Tho collects photographic print by Salon Photographers from Europe, North America, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, China and many others. The Loke’s collection consists of 539 gelatin silver monochrome prints by 173 photographers from over 25 countries. The Loke’s ‘Salon’ collection is undoubtedly another juncture to look into Salon Photography in the context of Southeast Asia.

In this chapter, my aim is to discover a lost voice in Salon Photography in and position such photographic practice in a regional regard. Salon Photography in Hong Kong has been a controversial subject matter from a research point of view – a style in photography that has been celebrated by institution through nostalgia and recollection of historicity, a style of photography that does not fit into the currency and discourse in contemporary art practice. It is an artistic phenomenon that has been disregarded, disputed and dismantled in idea. At the onset of my research journey, I did share the discomfort in looking into the most ‘cliché’ photographic style and its practice. However, through looking for the backstager, LI Qing in particular, and looking into the chain of production in making such practice, the use of Salon Photography in and to Hong Kong and beyond becomes, to me the very least, a new perspective to examine photographic practice as a cultural apparatus, and hopefully draw a newer discourse in photography in Hong Kong.

Conclusive Remark: Beyond Salon Photography as a Legacy: What is left in researching Hong Kong Photography?

 The preceding three chapters is organised in a way to present a thematic discussion of an aspect of photographic practice in Hong Kong. Photographic practice in Hong Kong in the past five decades, or since the inception of the territories, to a great extent, evolves in speed and scale that is out of breath. The very diverse nature of photographic practice in Hong Kong should not be disregarded by solely pinpointing to the Legacy of Salon Photography.

Newer generation of artistic/ photographic consciousness fades into Hong Kong starting from the 1980s that attempts to shift the dominance in representation in photography authorised by Salon Photography. The Hong Kong Art Centre, under the regime of Philip TSE (1977 to early 1980s), Michael CHEN (1983 – 1988) and Oscar HO (1988 – 2001), organises activity and curates exhibition in photography that departs from the Salon convention. From a newspaper clipping titled ‘The Marriage of Art and Photography’ (The Star, October 22, 1980), Michael CHEN advocates photography as an artistic medium beyond the functional approach of photograph in Hong Kong. In an abridged interview transcript conducted by WONG Wo-bik at the Hong Kong Art Archive at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, it says,

‘When he [CHEN] worked at the Hong Kong Arts Centre as Exhibition Director from 1983-88, he tried to balance his presentations with a variety of different exhibits to the public. At that time, Hong Kong Museum of Art did not present photography and Hong Kong Arts Centre became the major exhibition space available for photography. He wanted to organize photography exhibition as a balance view other than his background in photography.’

Oscar HO takes up CHEN’s work at the Hong Kong Arts Centre from 1988 to 2001. In the interview to HO, he remarks the Hong Kong Museum of Art ‘refuses’ to recognise photography as ‘art’ and the Museum would not exhibit nor collect photography. The Hong Kong Art Biennale 1992, with the inclusion of 13 photographer’s works, could be seen as a very first attempt after a long-term refusal. The non-intervention and passive act to position photography from institution, prior to the establishment of the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, opens up space and possibility for Hong Kong Arts Centre to create itself as a ‘hub’ of photography.

The Dislocation publication (1992 – 1998) in Photo Pictorial marks a new era in photography practice in Hong Kong. The 1964 Photo Pictorial is an attempt of three men – MAK Fung, LI Qing and TCHAN Fou-li, and the 1992 Dislocation is attempt of three photographers – LEE Ka-sing, Holly LEE and LAU Ching-ping. Dislocation is an editorial project initiated by LEE Ka-sing – to contribute a 16-page content in Photo Pictorial, a section that is attached yet independent from Photo Pictorial. In Janaury 1992, the zero issue of Dislocation (NuNaHeDuo) is conceived. Photo Pictorial and Dislocation, albeit its physical proximity (bound on a same book spine), explore different notions of photography – Photo Pictorial identifies itself as the ‘traditional’, ‘formalistic’, ‘holistic’ and ‘functional’; whereas Dislocation is ‘independent’, ‘thematic’, ‘subjective’ and ‘expressive’. Photo Pictorial offers Dislocation editorial freedom and a platform to publish. In return, Dislocation brings in new element, new style, new writer, new photographer and new definition and discourse of photography to Photo Pictorial and to Hong Kong. The two manages a marriage of 7 years (1992 – 98). Dislocation goes independence with the support of the Hong Kong Arts Development Council from 1998 to 1999.

Throughout the seven years, LEE Ka-sing and the NuNaHeDuo editorial committee experiment and expand the spectrum of photography beyond the notion of ‘photograph’ and Salon Photography, including but not limited to, painting and photography (1992, Vol. 2), performance-installation and photography (1992, Vol. 4), sound and photography (1992, vol. 7), the notion of self-portrait in photography (1994, Vol. 11), and on cersorship (1995, Vol. 4). The editorial direction of Dislocation – driven by thematic approach and exploring the possibility of photography and imaging that well situated at the beginning of digital imaging era (early 1990s). Guest curator and writer (be they literary or art critics) are adjoined in the discourse of photography. The awareness and consciousness in mixed-media and multi-media to photography surfaces – by working with performance arts, installation, filmmaking and etc to expand the notion and definition of photographic art in contemporary discourse. Such stimulating editorial content is a defining moment in recent development of photography in Hong Kong – also well situated in the most critical moment in the history of Hong Kong in the 1990s.

Photographic practice beyond the Salon Photography Legacy in Hong Kong could be seen as a result from, or stimulated by, the Legacy per se – finding space and filling gap in representation, exploring platform to be seen, working against the ‘traditional’ and convention, seeking for personal expression and collaboration. Both the Hong Kong Art Centre and Dislocation could be other research ventures into photography in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong International Photo Festival, first starts in 2010 as a result of a post-event discussion of the ‘Imaging Hong Kong: Contemporary Photography Exhibition’ in 2008 (organised by the pH5 Photo Group of Edwin Lai and Blues Wong), inaugurates a new chapter to look at this visual medium at the age of biennale. Informed by the Houston model, is a citywide photography festival is an inevitable move to favour global developmental trajectory in art promotion, staying ‘contemporary’ and ‘competitive’, and being ‘international’?

Acknowledgement

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to whom have been providing insight, information and inspiration, and have been exceedingly helpful in facilitating and accommodating to this research project since its inception, they are,

Janet CHAN
Brenda CHUNG Anthea FAN
Mon Ka-chun FU Joseph FUNG
Simon GO
Claire HSU
Oscar Hing-kay HO HO Man-kei
KAN Hing-fook Alfred KO
KUO Lihsin
Edwin K.K. LAI Jessica LAM
LAU Ching-ping Carmen Shawy LEE Julian LEE
Mary LEE
Tiong LEUNG
Jas LI
LIN On-yeung
LO Yan-yan Hammad NASAR Sylvia NG
Lydia NGAI
Leon SUEN
Eve TAM
Simon WAN
Blues Kai-yu WONG Michelle WONG Pheobe WONG WONG Suk-ki WONG Wo-bik Richard YEE

Last but not least, without the generous support of the Asia Art Archive in the era when research becomes a ‘luxury’, this research project could not have been made possible.

Bibliography

Archive

Clarke, David James, (c2003), Art in Hong Kong: a chronological guide to exhibitions (1985- 2001), Hong Kong: Hong Kong Art Archive: Department of Fine Arts, the University of Hong Kong, HK.

The Hong Kong Art Archive, Department of Fine Arts, the University of Hong Kong, HK.

The Hong Kong Art Archive, Hong Kong Heritage Museum, HK.

Books and Monographs

Chu, Almond, Lai, Kin-keung Edwin & Wong, Blues (eds.) (2008), Visual Arts Thematic Exhibition, 08/09: Imaging Hong Kong Contemporary Photography Exhibition, Hong Kong: PH5 She Ying Lian Dong.

Dadi fanteng liushi nian – qingzhu zhonghua renmin goingheguo chengli liushi zhounian (2009), an Anthology to Commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Establishment of the People Republic of China by the Committee of Hong Kong Photographic Community. Hong Kong.

Fan, Anthea (2007). Not about 'truth' : Chinese conceptual photography since the 90s, Taipei: Dian cang yi shu jia ting gu fen you.

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Hong Kong Heritage Museum (2001), Vision Beyond: Hong Kong Art Photography, 1900- 2000, Hong Kong: Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

Jaeger, Anne-Celine (2007), Image Makers Image Takers: The Essential Guide to Photography by those in the know, London: Thames & Hudson.

Kuo Li-hsin (1998), Writing Photography: Text and Culture of Photograph, Taiwan: Meta Media International Co, Ltd.

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CD Rom

50 Hong Kong Contemporary Photographers (1996) Hong Kong: The Original Photograph Club.


Magazines and Periodicals

Artslink, Hong Kong: Hong Kong Arts Centre (1977 - )

Camera Club, Hong Kong (1956 – 1960)

KLACK: Photography and Culture. Hong Kong: KLACK Photography and Culture Ltd. (2010 – 2012)

Mahjour, Hong Kong (2010 - )

Photo Art, Hong Kong (1960 – 1963, reprinted in 1981)

Photo Pictorial, Hong Kong: Photo Pictorial Limited (1964 – 2005)


News Clipping

‘The Marriage of Art and Photography’ (The Star, Hong Kong, October 22, 1980)

Relevant content

Art in Hong Kong: A Chronological Guide to Exhibitions (1985-2001)
Art in Hong Kong: A Chronological Guide to Exhibitions (1985-2001)
Collection

Art in Hong Kong: A Chronological Guide to Exhibitions (1985-2001)

David CLARKE, 祈大衛
2003

Imaging Hong Kong: Contemporary Photography Exhibition
Imaging Hong Kong: Contemporary Photography Exhibition
Collection

Imaging Hong Kong: Contemporary Photography Exhibition

影像香港當代攝影展
2008

Not about Truth: Chinese Conceptual Photography since the 90s
Not about Truth: Chinese Conceptual Photography since the 90s
Collection

Not about Truth: Chinese Conceptual Photography since the 90s

非關真相: 華人觀念攝影: 九零年代至今
2008

City Flâneur: Social Documentary Photography
City Flâneur: Social Documentary Photography
Collection

City Flâneur: Social Documentary Photography

城市漫遊者─社會紀實攝影
2010

Vision Beyond: Hong Kong Art Photography 1900-2000
Vision Beyond: Hong Kong Art Photography 1900-2000
Collection

Vision Beyond: Hong Kong Art Photography 1900-2000

藝影春秋: 香港藝術攝影1900-2000
2001

Three Photographic Perspectives — Hong Kong · Mainland China · Taiwan
Three Photographic Perspectives — Hong Kong · Mainland China · Taiwan
Collection

Three Photographic Perspectives — Hong Kong · Mainland China · Taiwan

攝影透視—香港‧中國‧台灣
1994