Dual identity, double exposure: Photography exhibit looks at Hong Kong’s contradictory nature

Hong Kong is a city of paradoxes, where bamboo coexists with concrete, and temples are neighbours with Gucci.

Soon after photographer Kyra Campbell, 24, moved to Hong Kong, she decided too convey the city’s multifaceted nature through her work.

“Some cities have pockets where different cultures thrive but Hong Kong has it everywhere,” she explained to us via email.

“The overlapping of different ways of life inspired me to double expose my images.”

Her work demands your attention by requiring at the very least, a second look. Like peering into a reflection in a glass window, at first you’re not quite sure what you’re looking at. But as your eyes linger over the image, the subjects become recognisable, representing scenes familiar to any Hongkonger.

You’ll see traditional birdcages superimposed onto apartment blocks, or a woman wearing a surgical mask in the same frame as the face of a building peppered with air conditioning units.

The photos will be on display as part of her “Fusion” exhibit, which opens Thursday at Opendoor Cafe + Courtyard in Sheung Wan.

In a city oversaturated with digital cameras, Campbell sets herself apart by continuing to shoot on film and rejecting computer manipulation, instead using one of the oldest tricks in the photographer’s book: double exposure.

“I love the colours, the grain rather than pixels,” she gushed. “You get something for film that you just don’t get with digital.”

It also means it’s a lot more work: she has to overlay shots on the same frame of film without the help of the instant feedback of an LCD screen, requiring a strong vision, patience, and good luck.

“There are technical challenges but that’s all part of the fun,” says Campbell, who first shoots the buildings then the people on top. “You take more time and care, you have to pay more attention.”

Her hope for how local audiences will react to her exhibition is simple: “I would like people to see the city that they love reflected in these images.”

What: “Fusion” by Kyra Campbell
Where: Opendoor Cafe + Courtyard, 120 Connaught Road West, Sai Ying Pun. (Google Maps)
When: Feb. 1 – 28 (Mon. to Wed.: 8am – 5pm; Thurs. – Fri.: 8am – 8pm; Sat: 9am – 5pm) 
Price: Free

Photos: Kyra Campbell

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