Photographer Lee Wing Ki and artist Simo Tse explore human emotions with nudes exhibition

Artists Lee Wing Ki and Sino Tse explore the concept of cleansing and purging with a series of nudes at 2021 Hong Kong International Photo Festival

Photo: Lee Wing Ki and Simo Tse/ HKBU

A satellite exhibition of the 2021 Hong Kong International Photo Festival (HKIPF), Katharsis: The Body Forgets, The Body Remembers brings together Lee Wing Ki and Simo Tse’s works of the very basis of the human body — the naked state.

The title of the exhibition comes from Aristotle’s use of the word “catharsis” — the Greek word for “cleansing” or “purging” of emotions through art, whilst the process results in renewal and restoration. Intrigued by the notion, the photographer, researcher, curator (1a space, Hong Kong), and educator (Academy of Visual Arts, Hong Kong Baptist University) Lee Wing Ki investigates the possibility of rendering photography as a form of bodily action and state of catharsis.

“The naked body is honest and universal — we all have it, but we don’t always show it,” Lee reveals. “Even today, many Asian societies equate nudity to sexuality, which is a taboo I’ve always wished to debunk. Katharsis is actually my first time photographing and exhibiting nude images. I found the creative process both challenging and rewarding.”

Photo: Lee Wing Ki and Simo Tse/ HKBU

Lee invites the Amsterdam-based graphic designer, visual artist, and independent researcher Simo Tse to combine their expertise for this joint experimentation of body and time, creating still and moving images of the analogue and the digital. Also discussed in the duo’s weekly Zoom meetings is the 11-line poem in the “overview” section of the exhibition text — another collaborative effort between Lee and Tse to encapsulate the experience of the project.

The outcome, paired with the unique pick of exhibition venue Ejar, is a whimsical and almost dreamlike atmosphere with a hint of romantic tenderness, oscillating between imagery and memory and putting forth a lively way of looking at photography as well as the performance of the human body.

Photo: Lee Wing Ki and Simo Tse/ HKBU

As Katharsis contains nudity and can only be viewed by visitors aged 18 or above, the novel and alternative Ejar is perhaps an unusually apt choice of location. Hidden away on a fourth-floor walk-up in Shau Kei Wan, Ejar was founded just earlier this year by a collective of emerging local creatives, from painters and musicians to photographers and videographers.

“The interior is very charming; the flooring, the structure, and even the staircase interest me,” Lee expresses fondness of the former factory building. “I love the idea of showcasing my work in a new, experimental art platform such as this — I find Ejar to be exceptionally personal and intimate.”

The exhibition runs from now until November 28.

Also see: Artist Lousy’s journey from graffitiing Hong Kong’s streets to art fair debut

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