HONG KONG.- Blindspot Gallery
presents Memory and Fiction, featuring Wong Wo Bik, one of Hong Kongs most accomplished photographers, as well as one of a small number of female photographers active in the territory. The retrospective exhibition features selected works of Wong dated from the 1980s, including photographs of Hong Kong's historical and notable landmarks, such as Lai Yuen Amusement Park and the Eu family mansions that were now demolished, and the Main Building of the University of Hong Kong.
Since the 1980s, Wong took all possibilities to photograph historical architecture threatened by demolition in Hong Kong. I paid particular attention to landmarks or buildings that were not considered 'built heritage', but carried historical significance or were once frequented by locals. Because their demolition was inevitable, the only thing I could do was to document them photographically. It was for me of paramount importance to capsulate them in the photographic space1, Wong says. Yet Wongs photographs of these architectures are not merely documentary of history, they are also the artists subjective narrative of her personal experiences at these sites, as well as depiction of traces left behind by others.
As curator Eve Tam rightly described, In their (Wongs architectural photographs) refusal to capture places in a formal documentary manner, Wongs photographs are more like spontaneous, free-flowing narratives recounted in a stream of consciousness. Sometimes the images evoke the psyche of the building/site representative of the cultural and mental reality of its time and inhabitants. At times, they recall a world lost, forgotten, abandoned. And at still other times, they exist as fragments of an immediate world transformed into rich fantasy2.
Greatly influenced by filmmaking, Wong stretches her creativity to manipulate the environment or settings for her photographs. This directorial approach has been a consistent thread in Wongs diverse body of work. Flash of light and long exposure are always used to create tangible and intangible effects, transforming the reality into fiction.
Wong has dedicated a majority of her photography series to the subject of architecture over the years, perhaps, as she finds architecture and photography are both functional and cultural in form, creative and imaginative in concept. They also both relate the individual to the collective, and form part of a visible memory and history.
Wong Wo Bik
A truly multifaceted artist, Wong received her BFA in sculpture and printmaking from the Columbus College of Art and Design, Ohio in 1977 and MFA in photography (minor in filmmaking) from the Tyler School of Art, Temple University in the United States in 1979. Wong has had a long and active career as a photographer, curator, researcher and art educator. She is the fellowship recipient of Asian Cultural Council (ACC) and Institute of International Education (IIE) in 1994 and 1995 respectively. Wong is one of the founding members of Hong Kong Photo Festival (Hong Kong Photographic Culture Association), and she has been the Museum Honorary Advisor for the Leisure and Cultural Services Department since 1996. Her work is collected by the Guangdong Museum of Art and the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. Wong currently lives and works in Hong Kong.