“Hong Kong is Beautiful, Isn’t It?”, 2017-2020
“Hong Kong is Beautiful, Isn’t It?”, is a photo series consisting of two parts, documents the photographing behaviors of Mainland Chinese tourists visiting the Hong Kong Golden Bauhinia Square and the blossom of the Statue-themed souvenirs phenomenon.Over the years, the Golden Bauhinia Square has become a must-see for mainland tours. Tourists flock to the Golden Bauhinia Statue, where a number of unlicensed stalls that are decorated by photo samples and tout crowds, seize the business opportunity to provide photography services. When the shutter clicks, the stall operators would shout “Hong Kong is beautiful, isn’t it?” And tourists would reply “Beautiful!” In Mandarin, with their prominent red banners in hands.Tourists fell for these photo-taking services unconsciously, as they are clearly not affected by the unoriginal framing of their pictures. Rather, photography is a mere possession. Captivated by this phenomenon, I started to document the photographing experiences of the “photographers” and their subjects in this bustling space.
Apart from the visit to the Square itself, the landmark’s accompanying souvenirs also play a major role. They are an important medium for creating the brand image and transmitting the unique culture and history. Since Hong Kong's handover, it has become common to find Golden Bauhinia Statue-themed souvenirs such as nail clippers and fridge magnets. These similarly replicated souvenirs seek to display their political history in an engaging way. How should we conceptualise the symbolic relationship between the two entities? Not only do these souvenirs represent Hong Kong’s touristic experiences, but they also imply the imagery of Hong Kong's prosperity metaphorically. When the souvenirs are brought home, they recall a sense of belonging or ownership of the land. To further explore how souvenirs define and contextualise a place, I assert these souvenirs to daily uses, showcasing their symbolic meanings in everyday mundanity.