Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate
Date : 29/10/2011 - 26/11/2011
(Closed on Sunday)
Time : 12 - 8pm
Venue : Study Area, L3
Free admission.

John Choy

The Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate was constructed in the 1960s as one of Hong Kong’s earliest public housing developments. Just prior to its demolition four decades later, John Choy was commissioned to photograph the soon-to-be deserted estate. He became acquainted with its residents and became a “kaifong” (neighbour). Its rich Chinese customs and strong codes of human solidarity made it seem more like a rural village, and his remarkable series of panoramic photographs evokes with warm intensity the social texture of these people’s lives. These pictures of their poor, constricted yet extraordinarily individualised environments are a testament to the human spirit and a steadfast way of life.

For this exhibition John has selected a series of 360-degree panoramas to present in the iDOME—a hemispherical interactive projection system that gives viewers an exceptional experience of immersion, as if they themselves were visiting Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate and meeting its “kaifong”.

Artist’s Statement

I had never lived in a public housing estate nor set foot on Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate before. I had no connection with her until July 2008 when we were unexpectedly linked together owing to my work. From then on, I 'lived' there on and off for two and a half months.

I understood that the residents of old housing estates do not usually open their doors to 'outsiders'. The idea of becoming a 'kaifong' (neighbour) sprang into my mind - to be caring and involved with full sincerity. I would always greet and chat with them before pressing the shutter. I would not take any pictures if the person involved was unwilling. I always delivered the pictures taken to them afterwards as promised. Finally, I gathered enough courage to hold my camera in position because I was already a 'kaifong' of the estate. To me, it is more meaningful to get along with the residents in a sincere, respectful and faithful manner than to keep the historical records.

Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate with which I have come into contact was not like any public housing estate. Instead, she resembled a rural village, judging from her brimming human touch and rich Chinese traditional customs.

About the Artists

Born in Hong Kong in 1966, John Choy worked as a photographer for a series of local newspapers and magazines, as well as Information Services Department from 1989 to 2001. Currently he works as a freelance photographer.

He is obsessed with the ‘unseen landscapes’ in the city, and documenting these by using experimental new techniques and forms of expression. He took part in group exhibitions including Imaging Hong Kong: Contemporary Photography Exhibition (2008), Light and Shade: Life Passé in Old Estates Photo and Video Exhibition (2009), China Lianzhou International Photo Festival (2009), City Flâneur: Social Doentary Photography Exhibition (2010), Just another exercise solo exhibition (2010) and Dali International photo Festival (2010). Roads . Light solo exhibition ( 2011). His publications include photography catalogue Hong Kong Photographers: John Choy (2005) and Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate (2010).