LOOK/17: Urban Experience

LOOK/17, Liverpool’s International Photography Festival proposes a dynamic 10th year programme under the title Cities of Exchange: Liverpool/ Hong Kong. The festival has invited artists from both the UK and China to respond to the prominent theme of exchange, as well as a diverse range of topics including urbanism, social housing, architecture, commerce and colonialism. Hong Kong based curator Ying Kwok leads the festival’s dialogue by amalgamating artists whose photographs tell the historic and contemporary stories of two major cities.

Working closely with Open Eye Gallery, the festival asks artists to consider a new city, to observe the shared experience and connections from place to place. This year’s new commissions include a piece by photographer and mixed media artist Wo Bik Wong, whose work is rooted in city architecture and documenting buildings with cultural and historical significance in Hong Kong. Her artistic manipulations of the pictures inject her own story and experience at the site, reinventing and retelling the story of a building or place.

Derek Man is travelling to China to create a piece examining social housing and the diversity of homes and habitation. Half of Hong Kong’s population lives in public housing. Regularly topping the list of least affordable housing markets, the Hong Kong government embarked on a public housing scheme in the 50s. Man will talk to people living in Hong Kong, and explore how they use their homes capturing both the building and location. Through this, Man will examine how an exchange of ideas could affect social housing in Liverpool and Hong Kong.

Luke Ching turns a hotel room at Liverpool’s Titanic Hotel into a pinhole camera to capture the Tobacco Warehouse opposite, an important site of the city’s historical maritime commerce. Influenced by social issues and city environments, Ching combines a camera and architectural space to create a work reflecting on permanent and temporary space. All three artists’ will exhibit their work at Open Eye Gallery in the group show Culture Shifts: Global.

Elsewhere, a public commission at Liverpool ONE by British-Chinese artist Yan Preston will capture the faces of modern China in Liverpool. As the site of the oldest Chinese community in Europe, Liverpool is home to several generations of Chinese students, businesses, artists, creatives. Made in partnership with RIBA, the work explores one of the earliest mass housing projects in Hong Kong from the the 1960s.

Accompanying exhibitions and events taking place throughout the city include Liverpool & Hong Kong Reflections at Museum of Liverpool, which features a selection from the Open Eye Gallery archive alongside images by Ho Fan; About the Size of Dartford at RIBA North, where photographer Virgile Simon Bertrand joins Curator Davina Lee to consider the urban geography of Hong Kong housing; and Hong Kong Break by Michael Wolf at The Forest I, Mann Island, which  reveals the untidy, chaotic hidden part of the city, and how people find a moment of relaxation in this hectic city.

Cities of Exchange: Liverpool/ Hong Kong, LOOK/17 Liverpool International Photography Festival, 7 April – 14 May, locations across the city.

Find out more: www.lookphotofestival.com.

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1.Derek Man, View of Wan Chai, the commercial district, in the fog. Courtesy of LOOK/17 and the artist.