Sharon Lee Cheuk Wun

Same River Twice

2020, Gelatin silver prints, 4x5 large format B/W negative films, 6-channel B/W video, 6-channel colour video (sound), links to Google maps.

It was 2014 when I left Hong Kong; after my return home, I became estranged from ‘us’.

My absence from that year has left a crack in memory between me and the people of my time. With the hazy pictures imprinted on their mind, I strive to piece together the fragments of our collective landscape. For that I take on as a flaneur in time, trying to re-remember the moments at Harcourt Road and to re-photograph on film the “true views” on the satellite maps—only to be constantly reminded by the fractured street lamps and high-rises of that palpable crack in time. Virtual reality, ambitious as it claims to be in its project to re-duplicate the world, points ironically at its impotence to reconcile the pixels between the layers of my mediated memories.

I re-constructed that disappearing landscape as an analogue-digital hybrid. What remains in the photographic prints through the process of darkroom solarization are silver linings radiating between shadows of total darkness. These prints were then transposed from the virtual Harcourt Road to six newspaper stalls situated at the teeming corner of Nathan Road. Here, they became a window, a mirror, an opening at this juncture of information overload. Here, seeing became relegated to some powerless gaze.

The creative process took one year to finish. Yet each of the work’s re-appearances/re-iterations in various forms continues to challenge the way we see, remember, and forget. These moving images stride through the tangible/intangible streets in the public sphere and intervene the ever-expanding image receptacle on digital maps. Defying the temptation to define history, their partial views work to disrupt the metonymic operation of memory—for if histories are generic, memories are mobile.

Our disappearing landscape re-emerges every time our people close their eyes to see. This remnant of the past as a mnemonic apparatus will continue to haunt those who write history.

— Sharon Lee Cheuk Wun, 2020

Up close with a distant memory from Hong Kong.
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Commissioned for Peer to Peer UK/HK, 2020.
Nominated by Hong Kong International Photo Festival.
Developed with Jacob Bolton