Being in the heart of the city, close to the business district yet surrounded by many luxurious residential high rises, the Hong Kong Botanical and Zoological Gardens provide an escape for people who can find their ways to it. My childhood recollection of the Gardens was nothing more than the huge aviary and sounds from the wildlife. However, my numerous visits in the past year have confirmed that the century old gardens are unique and timeless.
My strolls through the area were full of exciting encounters. There were many locals, domestic helpers, expatriates, and tourists who spend their time here alone or with their loved ones. The Gardens have become a true celebration of the diverse communities and cultures that have converged throughout its history. I focus on close observation of the remarkable landscape in which people engaging in various activities. My photography explores the geographic setting of the Gardens and their special relationship with their visitors
This project began just before the early outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic and lasted for a year. While the doors to the Gardens remained open, half of their 14-acre area, including the mammal enclosures, was closed for the most part of that period. Due to the closures of many businesses from time to time, large number of visitors flocked to the Gardens for spiritual and physical enjoyment. I hope this series will become a distinctive way to honour the Gardens, which provides all that is needed to connect our hearts.
Exhibition Period: 9- 31 Dec, 2016 Venue: Lumenvisum, L2-10, JCCAC, Shek Kip Mei, Kowloon (Closed Mondays and Public Holidays)
“Homes”, a solo exhibition by art photographer Gretchen So, explores the harmony and contradiction between the ideal and the norm of the living culture in North American society in the 1990s.
The featured images of domestic environments are psychological portraits of their inhabitants. The exhibition prompts viewers to question the context of the interiors, speculate on the background of the owners, or even imagine the character of those remote occupants.
At the exhibition venue, the images are grouped into virtual rooms, separated by decorative panels, serving as “walls”. I see a wall not only as a physical structure that encloses or divides a space, but also as a display board of occupants’ individual values, intertwining tastes, and past experiences.
The exhibition takes place at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, 1/F Thematic Galleries 1 & 2, from 10 August 2016 until 26 September 2016. The festival is presented by the Hong Kong Photographic Culture Association, and is a partnership project with Hong Kong Heritage Museum of Leisure and Cultural Services Department.
“Whether it is due to suburban development or city modernization, people in Hong Kong live in a constantly evolving environment. Can we just reminisce the past? Or should we look forward to the future? Do we gain more than we lose during the process? I have been photographing extensively in Hong Kong for over two decades. Passing through the streets of the city, I strive to capture the ever-changing scenes of our environment. My images serve as witnesses of our time, and may assist the future generations to answer these questions.
Along with photos of urban landscapes in Hong Kong, in this installation I also include images I recently took at night for the very first time around Central and Sheung Wan. Instead of a caption, there is a QR code next to each photograph, which leads to an assigned online discussion page. I invite viewers to post there a relevant title for each image. Viewers can share their insights, and discuss various issues related to the images in this forum. The traditional experience of attending an art exhibition is then combined with the modern “Mobile-and-Social” lifestyle of engaged citizens. The ultimate goal of the exhibition is to reach the juncture, where Art Photography, Mobile Technology, Social Media, and User Engagement interconnect.”
Several years in a row Tse Ming Chong, Founder of Lumenvisum, asked me to participate in the Artist and Photographer Conversation Series. My routine response was that I had no time and was not ready. Indeed, I had a fairly busy schedule when I first relocated back to Hong Kong. Yet the main reason of my rejection to his proposal was my fear of having to delve into my old work or to make art for a predetermined project.
I began seriously taking pictures in the summer of 1990 and have collected tens of thousands of images ever since. The film cameras that I have tried range from Minox subminiature camera, Diana box camera, Seagull/Pearl River twin lens reflex, Nikon SLR, Mamiya RZ67 to Calumet and Graflex Speed Graphic. A photographer’s working method to a large extent reflects a technique as much as a temperament. I eventually settled on a medium format film camera. Continue reading “My Stereoviews”
Gretchen So was selected as one of the finalists in the 2011 Sovereign Asian Art Prize. Her work “Pigeon” (51cm x 76 cm, Archival Inkjet Print) was exhibited in January 2012 at the Arts and Science Museum at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, and in February at The Rotunda, Exchange Square in Hong Kong. The art piece was auctioned off at charity auction dinner on February 17, 2012 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong. The event was attended by 360 guests, and total proceeds from the art auction exceeded USD270,000.
The Sovereign Asian Art Prize was initiated in 2003 when the Sovereign Art Foundation was established as a charity in Hong Kong.
ART EDITION is an annual art fair organized by the Korea Print Photography Promotion Association (KPPPA) and serves to promote and develop the genres of printmaking, photography, Media art and many other edition works. The venue of this year’s ART EDITION was held at the Seoul Trade Exhibition & Convention (SETEC) Centre in December 2011.
Headstorm Industry, a mobile radio, interviewed Gretchen So who talked about how she began her artistic life 20 years ago. It also introduced the images she took of the World Trade Center in the early 1990s. More content about how she got into Yale School of Art, The charm of the World Trade Center, A love story, a family and a closure after 20 years.
I have never visited New York. Nor, of course, have billions of other people in the world.
I certainly can’t speak for them, but I suspect any person exposed to American culture and its exports would share some of the following thoughts.
My impression of New York City and its buildings have been entirely constructed in my mind; fuzzy impressions from books, films, television and photographs. The Manhattan skyline: a mountain range of high-rises. The Statue of Liberty: adrift on an island. Abstract Expressionism/New York School: de Kooning; Gaston; Pollack, Motherwell et al. The city’s great museums: many, but the Guggenheim’s spiral is the only interior I can recall. Parks: there is Central Park, but any others? Of course, Henry James’ Washington Square: its park. Continue reading “Down, an essay by art critic John Batten”
“NY 10048: The World Trade Center in Early 1990s“, featuring subtle black-and-white images by Hong Kong photographer Gretchen So, opens on Sept 2nd at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club and the Fringe Club in Hong Kong.
HONG KONG, August 1, 2011 — This September, recognizing the ominous 10-year anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York, Hong Kong photographer Gretchen So presents her exhibition entitled “NY 10048: The World Trade Center in Early 1990s”
As a stunning tribute to the American Dream, the World Trade Center complex in New York was a popular photography subject. And just when one would think the world has seen the Twin Towers from every possible angle, the black and white images of Gretchen So re-discover them for the audience, yet again, as a powerful reminder of the artistic merit of these glass-and-aluminum-alloy pillars of modern times. Continue reading “Black & White Photography Exhibition Commemorates the Twin Towers”
This exhibition incorporates a diverse range of creative media, showing the works of eight individual artists. Some of these works are site specific. A parking lot acts as the main body and the artworks are parasites on it – through this temporal relationship the exhibition investigates the notion of power and conditions for co-existence.
‘If You Park Here’ uses a parking lot as the exhibition space. The traditional white slots have been, over the past few years, replaced by non-profit organisations, artist studios, shopping malls and outdoor spaces. The car park, although it only participates in a one-off exhibition, is selected as an alternative space for its public stance, its state of mobility, its characteristics of transparency and the experience that it brings to globalisation. This exhibition may create another kind of attention for local art, which has always been perceived or debated upon as being ‘non-mainstream’ or ‘personal’ Continue reading “If You Park Here: Curatorial Statement by Dr. Tang Ying Chi”
The ocean between them is not reason enough to think of Hong Kong and Vancouver as anything but sister cities. Unusual among world cities, both urban centres are artificial creations of the 19th century, rather than organic continuations of settlements many centuries older. Hong Kong was created as a British mercantile enclave out of an archipelago of pirate-ridden islands and tiny fishing villages as a part of the negotiations that ended the Opium War. Vancouver was invented as a land development scheme by the Canadian Pacific Railway Lands Department in the late 1870s in order to maximize returns on their peninsular location of a western terminus for their line-courtesy of a gift of extensive government lands -rather than share speculative profit with existing land owners in such older, established towns as New Westminster or Port Moody.
The very names of each city are somewhat problematic, revealing the contingencies of their invention, nor evolution. Hong Kong means “fragrant harbour” in Chinese, a double-baited marketing hook not unlike the Chinese characters meaning “golden mountain” ascribed identically to California, Australia, British Columbia and elsewhere to help expedite emigration of Chinese gold prospectors and railroad labourers. For the 19m-century flow of labour that anticipated today’s borderless flows of capital, the actual differences between these employment destinations mattered little. The CPR Lands Department and government officials insisted on calling their new creation “Vancouver” for its sentimental appeal to potential property investors in Britain and Eastern Canada, who had become unsettled over the previous two decades during which the British Pacific colonies had repeatedly threatened to join the United States. They did this knowing full well that a thriving and much older town with the same name existed 300 miles away in Washington State, a town founded, in fact, by Canadians when it was an outpost of the Hudson’s Bay Company.
Exhibition: Hong Kong Now!
Anderson Gallery, School of the Arts
Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia, USA
Essay by Robert Hobbs, The Rhoda Thalhimer Endowed Chair of Art History at Virginia Commonwealth University
Gretchen So’s years of study, first as an undergraduate in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and then in the Yale University graduate program in New Haven, Connecticut, have provided her with the vision to undertake the project of chronicling change in Hong Kong over a several year period. A color photographer who prefers to work with a medium-format SLR camera, because of the clarity of detail it offers. The commercial subtext provided by this film is a crucial component of her work that transforms the environs of Hong Kong into its simulacra. Continue reading “Hong Kong Now!”