Almond Chu discusses the making of some of his most iconic shots, and shows how these images are meticulously created.
Born in Hong Kong in 1962, photographer and artist Almond Chu graduated from the Fine Art Photography Department of the Tokyo College of Photography in 1986. He set up his own studio in 1993 to work on art and commercial projects.
Chu has been invited to exhibit his work in various countries such as Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, USA, Canada, Russia, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand. In addition, his work has been featured in numerous international publications.
In 1993, Chu was awarded the Agfa Fellowship Young Photographer Award by Asian Culture Council (a branch of the Rockefeller Foundation). In 2004, he was invited to be one of the prominent speakers of the Internationally Literary and Aesthetic Symposium organized by Bonn University and the Art & Exhibition Hall of Deutschland, Germany. In 2005, he founded the art photography organization pH5 Photo Group, which focuses on promoting art photography in Hong Kong. He is also the founder of Hong Kong International Photo Festival. In 2015, he was nominated for the Prix Pictet in France, and in 2108, he was nominated for The Shpilman International Prize of Excellence in Photography in Israel.
Chu’s works have been collected by The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, Russia; M+ Museum, Hong Kong; Hong Kong Museum of Art; Hong Kong Heritage Museum; Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou; University Museum and Art Gallery of the University of Hong Kong; OCT Art & Design Gallery, Shenzhen; Osage Gallery, Lee Hysan Foundation, Deutsche Bank Collections; Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong; Mandarin Oriental Hotel Taipei; Hotel LKF; New World Development Co Ltd; Cathay Pacific Airways; Agfa-Gavert (HK) Ltd and private collectors including Collection Uhoda in Belgium and William Lim Living Collection in Hong Kong.
He is represented by Yoko Uhoda Gallery in Belgium and La Galerie Paris 1839 in Hong Kong. He is also the exhibition artist of Blindspot Gallery and Osage Gallery in Hong Kong.
My work, this PARADE series, was inspired by the parades initiated in Hong Kong over the past few decades. It is a continuous project that I started in 2004, after I returned to Hong Kong from my artist-in-residency in the Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuggart in Germany.
Since 1997, the handover of Hong Kong to mainland China from the British Government, Hong Kong has generated annual protests for the pursuit of various social values. Most of the parades involved thousands of marchers; the 2004 parade brought more than 530,000 people onto the streets. Prior to this, the pro-democracy protest in 1989 drew even more participants, with 1.5 million marchers.
Amazingly, all of them acted in extremely peaceful ways. Marchers are encouraged to go to the street wearing similarly-colored clothing.
I attempt a conceptual approach to explore the meaning of existence of human beings in their cities through their interactions with the perverted environment and situation.
I have been working on this project for more than 10 years, but the productivity is comparatively low. From the selection of locations to the precise retouched details, on average, each piece of the work take me at least two months to accomplish.
In this prolonged period of creation, I have never stopped rethinking our current circumstances. I reflected upon the crisis of disorder of our society structure and values with deliberately ordered heights. Is our mode of collective behavior a self-demand or a consequence of the social consciousness? What is our genuine pursuit?
I carefully considered and chose the places to take the photos in this series, such as the old Star Ferry Pier in Central (Parade 5), where Hong Kong people protested against its demolition and struggled to preserve it; Wenweipo head office (Parade 1), the office building of Hong Kong Monetary Authority (Parade 4), Wanchai Ferry Pier (Parade 3) where dozens of Korean farmers jumped into the sea in 2005 when the WTO meetings were taking place; Bird’s Nest and Water Cube (Parade 7 & 8) which were the landmark architecture in Beijing 2008 Olympic Games; and Central Police Station (Parade 11) which was also a landmark building of the colonial architecture in Hong Kong.
All these choices reflected certain types of social signals. I photographed the buildings and model on site first and duplicated the model with photo retouching. The repeated subjects shared the same gesture, the same clothing and the same poker face. People have become faceless with no personal opinion. They look in the same direction and they go towards the same direction. Combining these people with the background, the intended orderliness and apathy are my arranged abnormal unease reflecting the nihility of our existence in the world. It seems to be the prelude of the tempest of disorder.
2018 Nomination to The Shpilman International Prize of Excellence in Photography, Israel
2017 Excellent Photographer Award, Pingyao International Photo Festival, China
2015 Nomination to Prix Pictet, France
2014 Short-listed to Eye Award, Italy / Great Britain
2007 Asia Photo Awards, Grand Award and Gold Award, Hong Kong
2005 Selected for the 15th Hong Kong Art Biennial Exhibition, Hong Kong
2000 Polaroid International Photography Award, Category Winner (Asia/Pacific Region), USA
1995 Japan APA Photo Biennale, Merit, Japan
1993 Asian Cultural Council, Young Photographer Award, Hong Kong / USA
2016 Diaphane Pôle photographique en Picardie, France
2003 Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany
1993 Asian Cultural Council, New York, USA
PUBLIC AND PRIVATE COLLECTIONS
The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, Russia
M+ Museum, Hong Kong
Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong
Hong Kong Heritage Museum, Hong Kong
Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China
University Museum and Art Gallery of the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
OCT Art & Design Gallery, Shenzhen, China
Osage Gallery, Hong Kong
Lee Hysan Foundation, Hong Kong
Deutsche Bank Collections, Hong Kong / Germany
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Taipei, Taiwan
Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong, Hong Kong
New World Development Co Ltd, Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Airways, Hong Kong
Hotel LKF, Hong Kong
Agfa-Gavert Hong Kong Ltd, Hong Kong
Collection Uhoda, Liège, Belgium
William Lim Living Collection, Hong Kong