In May 2021, Wong Chung-Wai left Hong Kong with his family to begin a new life in the UK. During the six months prior to their departure he had wandered the city alone using his camera to create an imprint of those things he could not take with him. The photographs in Hong Kong After Hong Kong are Chung-Wai’s visual lament for the city. They show the city’s contradictions – the co-existence of urban infrastructure and nature, the ancient and contemporary, and both the artificial and natural light of the city swathed by sea. Although one of the most densely populated cities in the world, Chung-Wai’s photographs are devoid of crowds and often show solitary figures against cinematic backdrops. His images were made roaming on foot and alert to overlooked details, taking the viewer on a walk with him through the city he previously called home.
Over 40 years previous, Chung-Wai’s parents had escaped to Hong Kong from China, stealing into the water of Shenzhen Bay to make their illegal escape. They had with them only some food and a compass, and their twenty hour journey involved swimming and walking through forty miles of water to reach the shores of Hong Kong. Although Chung-Wai’s journey had been on the relative comfort of an airplane, the echoes of his parent’s escape in his own story are prevalent.
In 1997, Britain handed back control of Hong Kong to China with an agreement based on the principle of ‘one country, two systems.’ Following protests in the city in 2019, the political autonomy of Hong Kong began to be eroded and as a result newspapers were closed down, politicians were arrested and books deemed politically sensitive have increasingly been censored.In 2021, Britain opened a BN(O) (British Nationals Overseas) visa scheme for Hong Kong residents and over 150,000 visas had been granted by December 2022. It is estimated that up to 320,000 Hong Kong residents will immigrate to the UK in a five year period.
Published August 2023
240 x 290mm
128pp, 69 images