Object • Affection: Dialogues with ancestors [物語 • 人情] engages the viewer in a journey of spiritual wandering with the ancestors. It showcases a selection of new work, completed after last year’s September exhibition at the Lakes District Museum and Gallery. English words and Chinese characters* are employed to contextualise visual materials.
The collaboration between me as a Hong Kong-native-Chinese-speaking-and-writing photographic historian, and members of the New Zealand Chinese communities, reflects a meeting of cultures. Among participants there are differences in cultural thought, historical view, and aesthetic appreciation. Our mutual commitment is a quest to re-discover buried dialogues that are seemingly peripheral and mundane. The result is creative collaborative work, an interface between people, photographs and bilingual texts.
The collaborative photographs evoke responses to ritual, religion and culture that have shaped, and continue to shape, the Chinese people in New Zealand. As a sojourner overseas, the journey of my project Object • Affection [物 • 情] is transitory and yet continuing. I would wish my photographs to impart emotion shared through the charismatic presence of the past and also provide a nuanced narrative to the present. Entering history through affection is a joy. Revealing our differences is a joy. I wish that these dialogues, brimming with emotions, celebrate who we are and continue to linger on.
* Bilingual text is featured in the exhibition and project. In the exhibition, the Chinese is presented in traditional characters. On the website www.objectaffection.com, it is presented in both traditional and simplified characters. Traditional Chinese is a cultural representation of the Chinese in New Zealand, of early generations, of Chinese overseas and of course myself, from Hong Kong. Simplified Chinese is the current formal language used in China, and by the majority of Chinese, worldwide. Romanisation of the Chinese names here is not standardised Mandarin Pinyin but as supplied by each family and therefore, the spelling reflects the dialect of each home county.