|“[w]e know that people are formed by the light and air, by their inherited traits, and their actions. We can tell from appearance the work someone does or does not do; we can read in his face whether he is happy or troubled.”
August SanderIn my indefinitive portraiture, my subjects are all turning away. The black ball hanging in the air is there to supply the subject’s voice — an intimate story about the color black (in HK), the color blue (in Australia) …
August Sander’s monumental portrait project, which he started in the beginning of the 1920s, is an exhaustive series of more than 600 portraits. The project is an amazing archive of German society & his people. His deliberately observant and detached realism excelled in convincing us that each portrait captures the essence of the subject’s identity. Despite my admiration, I disagree.
There seems to be something inadequate about an image presented as portrait, as to photograph a person is to highlight, to shadow, to abstract, to summarize, to deduct.
Hence I have been developing a project called Indefinitive Portraiture, a homage to August Sander’s Men of the 20th Century, with full respect yet with the aim of challenging the status of truth in portraiture. Since Sander, photography and portraiture have undergone unbelievably significant developments.
Nowadays, I am particularly frustrated by the glorification of surface glamour. The capitalist society today seems to possess a magical mechanism to convert any consumerist product into desirable truth using photography. For example, beauty advertisements, dream flats, dream cars, dream holidays … each image tries to manipulate a scenario and the persona into an identity status, or as our necessities. How aggressive photography has become.
How would we ever dream of penetrating into deeper truth when the truth on the surface seems so innocently persuasive everywhere? The status of the portraiture and photography is in doubt.
I have photographed more than 100 people now, from Australia, Taiwan, Finland, Norway, Tibet, Japan, China and Hong Kong of which 37 of them have been shown.
Photographic installation with sound
Light jet prints mounted on aluminium and sound devices, 75cm x 75cm each
Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, Australia, 2004 / 1aspace, Hong Kong, 2005 / Contemporary Art Factory, Japan, 2007
Content © 2007 Amy Cheung