Liverpool’s biennial International Photography Festival, LOOK/17, twins Liverpool with Hong Kong

Yan Wang Preston ‘Duan Changbo at St. John’s Gardens’

Liverpool’s biennial International Photography Festival, LOOK/17, twins Liverpool with Hong Kong

7th April – 14th May 2017

Cities of Exchange: Liverpool/ Hong Kong

LOOK/17, Liverpool’s biennial International Photography Festival returns this spring, in its tenth year, exploring Cities of Exchange.  Twinning Liverpool and Hong Kong, with artists from both countries responding to their city of exchange, examining various themes including urbanism, social housing, architecture, commerce and colonialism.

Working with Hong Kong based curator Ying Kwok, the festival focuses on exchange with China, exploring images taken in Hong Kong and Liverpool, cities with a long history of exchange. Photography is increasingly part of how we talk about our cities. From our own streets to new spaces, we use social platforms to tell the stories of our cities. Billions of photographs of urban life are shared each day. LOOK/17 invites artists to consider that perspective in a new city, to see what the shared experience and connections are from place to place.

LOOK/17 begins with a new direction, working more closely with Open Eye Gallery to establish an international model for the festival. This year’s new commissions include;

Wo Bik Wong, the active photographer and mixed media artist who lives and works in Hong Kong, is creating a new commission to be exhibited at Open Eye Gallery. One of Hong Kong’s leading female photographers, Wo Bik has shown internationally at over 100 exhibitions, although less frequently in the West. Her work is rooted in city architecture and documenting buildings with cultural and historical significance in Hong Kong. Her artistic manipulations of the pictures inject her own story and experience at the site, reinventing and retelling the story of a building or place.

Luke Ching will create a new commission turning a hotel room into a pinhole camera. Beginning in a room at Liverpool’s Titanic Hotel, he captures the Tobacco Warehouse opposite, an important site of the city’s historical maritime commerce. Influenced by social issues and city environments, Ching combines a camera and architectural space to create a work reflecting on permanent and temporary space. The completed work will be shown at Open Eye Gallery alongside work from Hong Kong.

Derek Man is travelling to China to create a new commission examining social housing and the diversity of homes and habitation. Half of Hong Kong’s population lives in public housing. Regularly topping the list of least affordable housing markets, the Hong Kong government embarked on a public housing scheme in the 50s. Man will talk to people living in Hong Kong, explore how they use their homes capturing both the building and location. Comparing the oldest and newest social housing, as well as the most controversial examples like the Cage Homes, Man will examine how an exchange of ideas could affect social housing both in Liverpool and Hong Kong.

Yan Preston’s new commission will be shown in the public realm in Liverpool ONE. A British-Chinese artist based in West Yorkshire, Preston’s work will capture the faces of modern China in Liverpool. As the site of the oldest Chinese community in Europe, Liverpool is home to several generations of Chinese students, businesses, artists, creatives both young and old.

In ‘About the size of Dartford’ Virgile Simon Bertrand takes the phrase used in the colonial government’s proposal for a new housing estate at Choi Hung and creates a text and image based work, like the running commentary in the film ‘London by Patrick Kieller. Made in partnership with RIBA, the work explores one of the earliest mass housing projects in Hong Kong, built in the 1960s.

LOOK/17 will also feature a Fringe programme with exhibited work created by students at Hugh Baird College.

An open call for work will feature UK based artists responding to the themes of China and urbanism. There will be a series of coinciding events, including talks and workshops.

Curator Ying Kwok says, “This festival centres on the theme of urbanism and the challenges we face globally and locally. We are living in a shifting world that changes and where interactions take place on a daily basis. I believed artists play an important role in inventing their own universe, and re-inject the liveliness into the world we live in. They respond to the world and bring our attention to particular subject matters that worth thinking through.”

With a series of new commissions from artists including Wo Bik Wong, Luke Ching, Derek Man and Yan Preston, LOOK/17 will also have a fringe festival and has a current open call for photographers https://lookphotofestivalblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/09/look17-open-call/