from abandon to revive
“However sacred something is, it will be cast out from the utilitarian world upon the loss of functionality”
Idolization of deities has been the root of human culture for thousands of years. They symbolise redemption of the soul, as well as hope in reality. They are put on the pedestal at home and in people’s hearts. Yet, when deities could no longer satisfy mankind’s desire, some would throw away statues in their home by the roadside of a park, piling over to form a refugee camp for the deities. This phenomenon is apparent across Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and all Chinese societies.
Decades before the term “Minimalism” was coined, a lot of families have already been throwing away statues of gods, buddha, and even ancestral tablets like garbage. The culture of disposability was commonplace. Take the example of Wah Fu Estate, close to 8000 statues of gods have been casted by the hillside. These common situations formed a religious social phenomenon. Values that we once believed and revered in have become extremely fragile amidst the city’s unpredictability. Photography project “Forgotten Angels” begins with “Disposal and the Disposed”, to explore modern human’s attitude towards promises
As I capture the images for this series, I often bring along my camera to look for abandoned idols. Despite my disbelief in mythic forces, I’d naturally contemplate the story behind these fallen gods, given their ubiquity. Who abandoned them? Did the original owner soar to new heights, or did they meet their demise in similar fashion as the idols. Was the moment of separation difficult? Any hysterical sobbing? Or were they scoffing at their impotent power?
My attitude towards photography has been greatly influenced by the Taiwanese photographer Yizhong Ruan. I believe the people’s spirit and homesickness he championed are eternal value tenets of photography. “The ability to see a person through a camera lens is a form of emotional investment”. For photographers, strangers who got captured by their camera are like friends from their hometown in a sense” he said.
I almost didn’t catch myself feeling a bit pitiful for them, for they were once being put on a pedestal but now they’re sent to the pit. Despite knowing they have no special power to change the future for others, they couldn’t express it. Just a mere handcraft, and yet it got elevated to a sacrosanct position, and finally got piled over under a tree like bones. If religious belief could come to this ending, how could romantic relationship, family relationship or friendship be an exception? As I kickstarted the “Forgotten Angels” series, it occured to me that all previous works are related to Disposal and the Disposed.
In a utilitarian society, any sacred religion must step down from the pedestal. In similar fashion, the Pearl of the Orient has lost its brilliance, what remains is merely a discolored rotten tile.
ForgottenAngels - Traveling Exhibition
At one point, they got elevated from mere ceramic artefacts to God. Before long, they got turned into art creatives after being abandoned. Their lives are the epitome of repeated wandering. As such, “Forgotten Angels” takes a different exhibition format from typical photographic creatives. The Artist has divided up the creatives into three groups: a unit of 3 photos that are framed by robust metallic aluminium, displayed in similar fashion as a triptych which are commonly used in Western religion; 9 mini creatives displayed in a disorganised manner to reconstruct idols at the street corners; and a unit of 4 photos that are framed by glass and wood. The glass is easily worn during the course of the mobile exhibition, echoing the theme: “The beliefs of modern people are more fragile than we thought”
“And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” – Matthew 23:12