Gum and Jay Lau belong to two generations of Hong Kong people: one was born and raised in Hong Kong, and the other was born in mainland China in 1997. When Jay was at the age of five, he moved to Hong Kong following his father, who fled from Shenzhen and settled in Hong Kong before the abolition of the touch base policy in late 70’s. The touch base policy was the immigration policy of the British HK government started in 1974, it allowed illegal immigrants from China to get a new life in HK if they could reach the Boundary Street in Kowloon. The two artists spent their growth in Hong Kong.
There is a saying that Hong Kong is “a borrowed place on borrowed time”. Because of the instability of politics in the mainland, the number of immigrants from China to Hong Kong increased drastically, and the population coming from the mainland to Hong Kong has gradually become the mainstream of Hong Kong residents. Under the political tranquillity and the stability of the rule of law, people living here can show their talents under equal opportunities, thus creating the Hong Kong economic miracle. The political movement and the poverty of socialism from mainland have had no real impact on Hong Kong people. Later, people here gradually changed from their original mentality as a passer-by and regarded Hong Kong as a springboard, a place to jump to foreign countries, to the mentality of Hong Kong has become their home.
However, in the past two years, there has been another immigration wave in Hong Kong. People are leaving. Gum immigrated to the UK a year ago. In this series of works, he uses his usual way of laughing and cursing, through his conversations with friends on WhatsApp, signal, and press reports, he recorded the changes in both his own life and the social atmosphere in Hong Kong from 2021 to 2022.
Jay Lau also began to reflect on why he was still in Hong Kong when his friends were leaving and wondered why people chose to come and stay in Hong Kong. Jay tried to understand the process of his father smuggling to Hong Kong at all costs and his later life after settling down. Jay began to look for and read texts related to his father smuggling to Hong Kong, including Mr Chen Bingan‘s journalist report, “The Great Escape to Hong Kong” ; films in illegal immigration theme like ” Lost Souls” (1980) and “China Behind”(1978) etc., related newspaper reports and documentaries. He also interviewed his father, trying to sort out and understand the reasons and experiences of people who risked their lives to leave their homeland for coming to Hong Kong.
In addition to the images taken by the artist himself, he also uses a large number of images searched on the Internet, some of them are directly related to the historical event of the Great Escape from Hong Kong; some of them seem to be irrelevant but could generate a dialogue of works and political propaganda. Through printmaking techniques, allow these images to be reproduced, combined and presented in three-dimensional space. From the perspective of Jay, he uses different materials to reshape the content referred to by these images and interprets this period of wandering outside the homeland and bringing history for the future generations to a new home land in the meanwhile.
This exhibition attempts to explore the wandering stories of two generations of Hong Kong people.