Many years ago, while reading Seven Dialogues About Photographic Aesthetics (攝影美學七問), a book by Juan I-Jong on photography theories, I extracted a conversation between the author and Mr Chen Tsun-shing that reads:
“When it comes to photography, what matters is not that the picture we took is beautiful, but that it channels genuine feelings and things beyond its own frame. Sometimes, an original artist with a creative mind shows you not only his works, but also his personality, the efforts he put into his works, what went through his mind, and the frustration he experienced, and even a totality.”
Chun Wai’s works have brought this kind of long-forgotten feeling to me once again through his deeply respectful and attentive attitude toward photography and also those varied images conjured up by photography. I can’t help asking myself this question:
In a digital world where images are being produced and presented at a speeded-up pace, how could someone be still so stubborn to use a 120 film medium format camera to produce black and white photographs that are not so “bright and attractive to the eye”, exerting himself for years without seeking practical gains? What’s more, rather than presenting the foreign culture and practice as something exotic, he examines social issues overlooked by the public and, with high-quality photos draws our attention to these fragments of life that are often unnoticed.
I can tell, rather than showing off, he’s reminding us through his attentive and serious attitude towards creativity of what we have missed out, trying to help us see things more thoroughly and sincerely. These pictures have restored the suitable role of “photography,” by presenting to us, in a magnificent yet subtle manner, people living in harsh environments in a foreign land, their dignity, beliefs, ways of survival, and finally the reasons for their endurance. Photography, at this very moment, inspires respect and emotional resonance. The photographer skillfully weaves together his professional expertise, photographic language and humanitarian perspective into true works of art, dissolving himself for the viewer. I’m convinced that only through exploration of the spiritual realm will photography (or art?) be able to recover its true significance.
Frank Lei , Artistic Director of Ox Warehouse