Writings/ Photographs/ Poetry/ Archives
A Holly Lee and Lee Ka-sing online magazine. Published on Fridays.
4x5 (146mm x106mm), 1988-1989
In the analogue photo-shooting days, we used Polaroids (a type of instant print produced by the US) for lighting test and composition, just before inserting the film holder in the camera to take the actual shot. I kept most of these Polaroids, except those taken by the art directors. Since a lot of my assignments were free-hand, art directors were seldom present or needed to be on site to approve the shots. As a result, those Polaroids are still with me. Sometimes, my assistants would note down technical shooting data, such as the aperture used, and exposure time on verso for future reference.
After so many years, those Polaroids have now become a kind of material along side with the transparencies, or original photographs. They are one-of-a-kind, and their uniqueness has prompted people to collect. In fact some of these Polaroids are already in the collection of M+ Museum and the Hong Kong Heritage Museum.
Published here, the first one was an editorial shot created in 1988, for the Mandarin Hotel Magazine. The other four were for the CITY Magazine, which was a monthly publication. For the whole year in 1989, for each issue I provided a photograph for the Content Page of the magazine. The concept of the photograph was entirely up to me, and I generated the image based on major topics of that issue.
Sushi Grass in Paradise (A story)
written by Holly Lee
with photographs by Lee Ka-sing
(68) To be human
It’s always easier to start a story than to end it. Ginger remarked. Since the reader does not have any expectation, or a single clue to what you were going to tell him…except, maybe the title of the story. But sometimes even that title can be very vague. Chai has been stewing over how she would end her story for days, and has come to a number of possibilities:
Sudden death of the author, no ending.
Sum up all that’s been written, to have a perfect, reasonable, all-round ending.
Give several endings, and let the readers choose.
Very sharp and unexpected ending.
An ending so bland that leaves readers a flat taste.
The end is the beginning that leads to a new story.
A long, philosophical and doctrinal ending.
Open ending, asking readers to draw their conclusions.
Or maybe all, or most from the above? Still, she cannot make up her mind, and so leaves her story hanging. Meanwhile she has to decide on where in Ontario she wants to continue her study - to pursue a graduate degree in anthropology. The closest choice would be the University of Toronto, then York. Others within the province would be McMaster, Carleton or Western. But ultimately, the decision will depend on the programs they are offering. Her father Qi, does not want to leave Hong Kong, even though both of them are qualified for BNO, the British National (Overseas) passport, and they can move to England. For now, definitely Chai does not want to return to a city that has forfeited freedom of speech and live a life under constant surveillance. The father and daughter are poles apart, one does not want to go west and one does not want to look east.
And look at HOSOP! The House of Something on Photography stands like an unfinished building, like lan wei lou 爛尾樓 in a construction zone. Just a few months ago, they were still brimming with ideas about choosing the best name for the museum. With each new thought, each suggested, slightly altered nature of the museum, it jumped from HOSOP to MOPOP (Museum of Publications of Photography), to MOPIOL (Museum of Photography in One’s Life). Now that George and Wandy are still away and undecided about their future, every aspect of life can change overnight, the fate of the museum looks increasingly minor, unimportant and not worth mentioning, or in fact, not worth worrying.
Picturing the curbside garden, Mrs. Bento envisions growing something beautiful, edible, plant like…Morning Glory? Ah Morning Glory, the lovely trumpet-like flowers, your amazing smell and heart-shaped petals, you bloom every morning when the sun wakes and by evening you fold away in your pyjamas…ah, you are a common vegetable we eat, well in Hong Kong back in the days, one recommended recipe is stir-fried Morning Glory Thai style, with basil garlic, oyster sauce, and fish sauce. But I have my favourite traditional recipe passed down by mom, who also inherited the recipe from her mom. For generations the moms used fermented bean curd, hot chili peppers and heated a super hot wok with peanut oil, threw in the shoots and leaves to a quick stir-fry. If cooked using the right heat and temperature, the vegetable would be crunchy, and needless to say, very tasty. Okay, that’s just one kind of plant, I need to develop a bigger plant list, consisting of small trees and shrubs, other flowers too, to be certain. Look, some houses on Gladstone Avenue plant blue and pink Hydrangeas that put on spectacular shows every Spring, while fresh fragrant Junipers invigorate the hot, humid Summer air year after year. And how we love those holly bushes, springing up here and there little red berries that brighten up our dwindling spirits in Winter greys. However, I must remember I’m just a novice gardener, and I must take caution in tending our garden, making sure it can handle different seasons, the stresses of heat and pollutants from cars, snow plows, salt trucks and occasional abuse from irresponsible pedestrians.
You dream too much mom! Ginger reminded her mother. We’re still facing the coming of a second wave. How can you be so optimistic? And also, you’ve mixed up Morning Glory with water spinach. The one edible is water spinach, ong choy 蕹菜, grown as a vegetable for its shoot and stem, there is no flower! Mom, wake up, don’t waste time cuddling your curbside gardening! NO GINGER…that is our gift of being ‘human’! Chai retorted. We can dream, we can create, and recreate, just as we can reason, think and communicate. By will we can overpower and change our circumstance, view from other perspectives, we can even walk through the valley of the shadow of death with a song still humming in our hearts and minds. Think about the film Life is Beautiful, how Guido turned darkness into lightness. We can and have the ability to speculate, question and to respond to every singular matter, in thousand-and-one ways! Oh Ginger, I want so much to re-learn our species as humans, our experiences, practices and behaviour, how do we arrive from our long forgotten ancestral past to the very present we call ‘today’, and step into a future we so ignorantly claim to have already ‘known’. Have we changed, and by how much? Paradoxically we all know there are still something unchanged. It may sound strange to think about all these abstract issues at a difficult time like this, yet upon thinking, and the more of it, I have never felt so alive, and unreal, like drifting in mid-air, and have suddenly grown three brains and six eyes! All these incomprehensible questions, puzzling dilemmas, the whole labyrinth and abyss of knowledge, to sum up in four words: I want to know.
A Holly Lee and Lee Ka-sing online magazine. Published on Fridays.
Published by Ocean and Pounds and archived at oceanpounds.com
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leekasing.com is a portal website for current and earlier works. Apart from exhibitions, Holly and Ka-sing use extensively web platforms to display photography and writing projects. Contact us for a detail list of links.
Holly and Ka-sing currently live in Toronto with their daughter Iris, and their cat Sukimoto.