Man Lee Store, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, 1970s
Found images from family photo albums
The Crescent Void, 2018-2019, archival pigment print on paper light box
WMA Annual Exhibition-Opportunity, 2019, City Hall, Hong Kong
The Crescent Void
It begins with a worn-out photo.
Hiding in an album my grandmother left us after she passed away is a photo that tells an untold chapter of my family history: My grandparents used to run a small grocery store in Chai Wan in the 70s. Today, Man Lee Store, as it was called, has already morphed into a run-of-the-mill concrete wall structure facing an underground train station.
Our city never ceases to change. As I turn the found objects from grocery stores into specimens in concrete, the disappearing urban tales buried underneath the ever-taller high-rises are given new forms. The absence in space of the concrete boards makes a poignant remark, moulds after moulds, as a that-has-been—an uncanny presence against change. These half-moulds-half-specimens are then recast as negative images. The photographic impressions, with their light and shadow reversed, reflect the achingly quotidian life lost in the fabric of space and time. Their silence never ceases to speak to us, as a void lurking in our city that seems so close yet distant to us.
The stores and their stories may be remembered and disremembered. Never are they too far from our hearts, however. They are just around the corner of the street that we pass by every day. A once most familiar sight.