Photographer Justin Hui spent days wandering in the New Territories for his new photobook, seeking to document the changing landscape of the northern part of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s northern districts are often a meeting point between rural and urban – the natural parts start to disappear as villages are demolished to make ways for new developments like the Northern Metropolis.
An ever-shrinking border separates the region from the sprawling mainland city of Shenzhen.
Hui’s photobook portrays the idea of absence – there are no people in his pictures, but there is evidence of a human presence.
“The trace of human activity and objects left behind [were] more interesting to me than showing, say, the face of a farmer or what the home looked like before it was demolished,” he says.
People think of urban development as progress, Hui said, but they do not realise it is also an act of violence: “The rubble of a demolished village looks like a war zone without an actual ‘war’ taking place,” he said.
Exploring the New Territories, a part of Hong Kong that is close to the mainland border, Hui hopes to reconsider the meaning of home and land in a city.
The word “territory” in Chinese (界) in Hui’s photobook title signifies separation – nature vs. civilization, cohesive planning vs. fragmentary development, developer vs. village-held land, public vs. private, real vs. imagined etc.
Hong Kong constantly faces issues related to land – almost everything involves talking about land – so Hui explored facets of urban development that he felt had been overlooked.
“It’s easy to forget that development is not just the changing of the physical landscape, but the destruction and change of the many personal layers and associations which attach and occupy these spaces.”
The Shenzhen skyline as a motif that is driving change in the area. Its ever-constant presence in the area highlights both the region’s physical and also ideological proximity to mainland China.
Exhibition: 5 November – 28 December 2022. Event details.
Venue: Kubrick Cafe, Shop H2, Prosperous Garden, 3 Public Square St, Yau Ma Tei
Opening hours: 11:30 – 22:00.