"Hong Kong is beautiful, isn't it?"/The Blooming Souvenirs
NUMBERED. 2 book set
This is a set consisting of the two complementary zines “Hong Kong is Beautiful, isn’t it?” and “The Blooming Souvenirs.”
In the two issues, Hongkong photographer Chan Long-Hei documents tourists from mainland China visiting the Golden Bauhinia Square in Hong Kong. The square is right outside the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, where the ceremonies for Hongkong’s handover were held in 1997. Still today a flag-raising ceremony takes place each day at 8AM to commemorate the handover.
Behind the strange fascination of Long-Lei’s photos is the difference in meaning that this place must hold for local Hongkongers and the Chinese tourists visiting from the mainland. In the “Hong Kong is Beautiful, isn’t it?” issue, he focuses on the tourists’ photography behaviors; the joke-y poses, group photos and portraits, all of which include the giant golden statue of the square in the background. As Long-hei remarks in his foreword, “they are using photography as a means to possess something.”
“The Blooming Souvenirs” takes a closer look at the lengths at which the golden statue – a symbol of Hongkong’s handover – is being normalized, commodified and spread as part of purchasable souvenirs. Long-hei’s bright, almost ad-like photographs show snow–globes, nail clippers, cufflinks, puzzles, cell phone covers and little statues – “when tourists bring these souvenirs home and share them with their friends and relatives, the souvenirs also represent a sense of belonging and even ownership of the land”, as Long-hei writes in his foreword.