There are cities that appear to be a stratification of structures and ages; cities that appear to be never completed or always on the verge of radical reconstruction. Hong Kong is one of them: a changing and diachronic megalopolis encapsulating various political and social eras that shaped its history. Its tumultuous and disorienting topography reflects the lives of its inhabitants, whose restless relationship with the territory is distinguished by continuous construction projects and massive land reclamations, uninhabited areas and densely populated neighborhoods.
Hong Kong began as a simple farming and fishing village and has since grown into an important free port and major international financial center. It was a colony for more than 150 years before its sovereignty was transferred from the United Kingdom to China in 1997. It will retain a high degree of autonomy for the next 50 years under the principle of 'One Country, Two Systems.'
I was born and grew up during the city's colonial period. I absorbed the sense of precariousness and mutability into my artistic practice after witnessing firsthand the significant transition at the end of the century. The images I took of Hong Kong since the 1990s visually embody the rupture between two eras and demonstrate the dynamic transformations of a territory in constant reconstruction.
Evolving Territories: Hong Kong in Transition is a candid portrait of Hong Kong between 1994 and 2000. It depicts how cityscapes become the stage on which residents move, adapt to changes in their living environment, and become true agents of change. As the result of six years of patient reportage, my artwork reflects upon the physical and symbolic fragmentations that characterize the identity of this suspended metropolis. The project not only is a contemporary critique of pre-millennium urbanization and modernization, it is also a visual record of Hong Kong's evolution during a critical historical period.
Related content: Zolima Citi Magazine article about this project