After my brunch at Latam Coffee (They got amazing burger), I walked back to the exhibition area and was glad to see that it had finally opened! I was actually way too early, having found myself loitering in Heath while waiting for the cafe to open and the photography exhibition to begin.
From the outside, the name already enchanted me, along with the portraits placed around the exhibition walls. "Where the Firework Dies"; fleeting, melancholic, with a tinge of a whimsical ride.
"Here is a headphone; you can listen to each chapter as the Artist speaks about them,"
"Is it in English?" I asked, my fingers crossed.
"No, only Cantonese."
"Okay... I'll manage," I replied awkwardly, hoping I would be able to understand. My Cantonese isn't amazing, and I'm afraid that I don't have much to catch onto.
From what I understand, this personal project came about during the COVID period. Due to its personal nature, I felt a strong sense of passion from the photographer. I decided to capture my feelings while they're still fresh, while I'm still experiencing these "raw" emotions. The challenge lies in putting these emotions into words, so I'll attempt to express them here. I chose to share my own interpretation because I don't want to spoil it for anyone. It's an experience I'd love others to have, and I truly wish this exhibition could have gone on a "world tour" of sorts.
I progressed through the first chapter after the introduction, and I adore how the photographs are printed on cloth scrolls, hanging delicately. It delved into the concept of people fighting for love in ancient times, reminiscent of gladiators competing to win the affection of their beloved. To get attention, to demonstrate how far they'd go. A modern twist was added, portraying the struggles of high school students. The sense of nostalgia evoked in me was incredible—reflecting on my own naive past and the ways I've "fought" for love in my own journey. There couldn't have been a better way to begin.
The following chapter, in my interpretation, conveyed the message that we often overlook things in our daily lives, as they appear the way they "should." We tend to neglect or take them for granted. This chapter encouraged us to examine things a bit more closely and find beauty in the simplest of elements.
I also learned this: The Obrina Olivewing butterfly is the sole animal species known for producing the genuine blue pigment. This distinct blue hue is derived from a pigment called pterobilin. Although other butterflies also exhibit bluish colors, these shades aren't the result of authentic blue pigments.
As I progressed, I admired how each chapter was intricately woven using different themes, conveying diverse messages, and evoking different phases of my life—from adolescence to military service, university life, and even the present. The chapters interlocked, paralleling the journey of our lives, even if not presented chronologically.
I love how the 4th chapter spoke to me as well, albeit being the highlight or the name of the exhibit. "Where the Firework Dies"; the sound of the fireworks echoes against the voice of the narrator as we walked through the tunnel, and the art was actually placed on top! Reminding us to look up (if not we would miss the moment without knowing), or to look at life from another angle, really struck a chord with me.
The subsequent chapters are a bit dark and haunting, exploring vices that led me to some dark places, and another tells about photography project that reminds me of my own photography endeavors—depicting people leaving and their sense of self.
I love the cool tones that play against the human subjects, juxtaposing solitude with moments of epiphany.
The final chapters about plants resonated with me, as I pondered what I'd want to "preserve" after I've passed away. Once again, I was awed, and thinking there's more "after death"; it all comes to an end, as if being perfectly orcheastred to tell us that there's nothing after that. It really left me alot more afterthoughts than I expected. Also having the narrator to wrap things up; also gave me a sense of closure.
I then spoke with Hei, one of the staff members helping out at the event. My Cantonese isn't great, but I did my best to express my excitement about the exhibit. Hoping for more experiences like this, I even asked him if there would be anything similar in the future. I'm glad we had this conversation, as I learned a lot more about the photographer, this project, and even had a chance to personally share the work I created—this piece. Perhaps this is an opportunity for me to take another step forward in sharing more art with the world.
This was undoubtedly the best exhibition I've attended in Hong Kong, if not one of the finest overall. Approaching it with minimal expectations, I was repeatedly blown away by the chapters, leaving me yearning for more. Amidst the sea of crowds and strangers, it felt as if the universe was guiding me to explore the world of art further.
NERD Farm Pop Up Gallery Presents:
<Where The Firework Dies>
Photography Exhibition of Riddick Douglas Ning
Date：30/7/2023 - 20/8/2023
Mon - Thur 12-7pm
Fri - Sun 12-8pm
Venue：NERD Farm Pop Up Gallery
Address：Heath HK,B/F, ChungKing Mansions, 36-44 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui Hong Kong