Ka-Man Tse
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Kai Tak Airport, Hong Kong:
how to collect mountains

how to collect mountains

These photographs are about a desire to see, as if to touch a past, this place that pulls me by some gravitational conspiracies, into its orbit thousands of miles away.

I began this work in 2004 at the decommissioned Kai Tak Airport. Kai Tak, a site of memory for my family and many others emigrating, appears in photo albums as a thing before an event, a stage for things to unfold, the location of our departure from which our world is altered. My photography is about the piecing together of these fragments, to trace my trajectories and orbits of this disclocation.

"Memory," writes Walter Benjamin, "is not an instrument for surveying the past but its theater. It is the medium of past experience, just as the earth is the medium in which dead cities lie buried." Returning decades later to this place of departure, Kai Tak Airport had already been abandoned for several years. Overgrown and eerily quiet in the middle of the ultra-dense, bustling city, Kai Tak still maintained a life of its own, a secret. I had arrived at a city that has been leveled and rebuilt many times over, at a loss still.

Slowly, the photographs move outwards into other spaces resisting a similar force. Looking forwards and backwards, I attempt through these photographs to recreate a theatre for memory, to view as if a child, these spaces of wonder.

all images © Ka-Man Tse