LOOK Photo Festival: Showcase
“We share billions of photographs of urban life every day via social media. The idea of a specific city, our understanding of how we live in it, its history, people, institutions, icons, challenges and triumphs are all expressed through these photographs we share.”
With these words, Open Eye Gallery director Sarah Fisher introduces us to the theme of this year's Liverpool International Photography Festival (LOOK), which for 2017 takes a new direction based on international exchange.
Artists working in Liverpool and Hong Kong have traded places, in order to create work that curator Ying Kwok intends will examine aspects of urbanism, social housing, architecture, commerce and colonialism. Viewers are invited to consider how we tell the stories of our cities through photography, and how those experiences and connections are shared, or differ, from place to place.
The four new commissions come from Wo Bik Wong, one of Hong Kong's leading women photographers whose work explores city architecture and documents buildings with cultural and historical significance; Luke Ching, who has turned a room in Liverpool's Titanic Hotel into a pinhole camera, capturing the Tobacco Warehouse opposite; Derek Man, who is travelling to China to speak to people about their homes and how they use them (half of Hong Kong's population lives in public housing); and Yan Preston, whose new commission captures the faces of modern China in Liverpool, the site of the oldest Chinese community in Europe.
Further participants include South Ho, whose work Umbrella Salad documents the student-led Hong Kong protests of 2014, when the umbrella became a symbol of resistance against the police, held aloft by tens of thousands of pro-democracy supporters. His black and white images of streets transformed by activity also capture the quiet moments in between mass action, and in previous exhibitions he has mounted the images with cable ties, which were used during the occupation both by protesters (to connect steel barricades) and by police (to bind the hands of arrested protesters).