New Territories  新界 explores the changing landscape of Hong Kong’s northern frontier, caught between its past and ongoing integration with mainland China.

2021 - Ongoing

Throughout my trips to the north, I began collecting objects from abandoned homes slated for demolition. Like chance encounters, I scavenged everything from household products to toys, and even film rolls and VHS tapes - anything that was rich in meaning that could tell me more about the people who once lived here and were evicted to make way for new development.

Photographed apart from their context, these objects become carriers of meaning with memories latent in them; they accumulate like fragments that evoke varying emotions and narratives - portraying broader themes around absence, mythologies, the phenomenology of time, memory,and identity. They diverge between nostalgia and modernity, reflecting a place torn between its forgotten histories and the ever-looming presence of Shenzhen across the border.

Far more than a geographical region, ‘New Territories’ becomes a metaphor of re-imagining Hong Kong and our relationship with memory and land, providing a setting for the imagination of a place that is ever evolving.

Reintegration

The lack of land in Hong Kong is a constructed myth that pervades to this day.

Dreaming of Papaya

Long before the British came

No Rest for Tian Xiang

News footage retrieved from Cable News, 19 July 2021, Edited and Clipped

Letters that were never read

A week later, the village was nothing but debris, like a town that had been destroyed by an earthquake. A deep silence filled the autumn air.

Everyday items - from clothes and toys to medical records and personal diaries - could be found buried beneath the rubble, like the collective memories that came crumbling down.

A few older women were rummaging through the rubble, scavenging for objects that could be sold in the market. Looking at these women haul away building parts gave me the idea that I, too, could scavenge some of the objects myself. After all, collecting things was not all that different from taking photographs: freezing time, capturing what’s there before everything is swept away.

Most of the farmers are long gone, relocated to the city in some distant world. In spite of their absence, they leave behind memories buried deep beneath the rubble, waiting for me to collect and piece them back together.

Taking away flower pots from the village, 

and a bit of the land with it.

The things we leave behind,

all but a ruin of memories,

washed away in a sea of darkness.

Their contours emerge from shadowy depths,

tracing some distant past,

to a home that once was.

Everything is transient, nothing fixed

until the pendulum stops swinging

at five thirty-six

when time stood still.

Across the fields they toiled,

burying their hearts beneath the

soil that would soon rise into the

sky in exclamations of anger, like the

cracking of firework and the burst of

tears that fill the air, shattering the ground into

fragments of a land that once was, now

gone away into the silent

land of memory.

Written in Wood

Hong Kong International Photo Festival (HKIPF) Satellite Exhibition 2022

Ongoing

Using Format