We are all made up of memories. Memories are what make us humans. Memories are stored inside physical objects, in notebooks, and also within our heads. That is why we are like a mobile history library, and we store in our brains the people we meet and things that occur every day. Memories, together with the surrounding environment, form a unique angle.
Chak Wai Leung, a photographer, has lived in Chuen Lung village in Tsuen Wan for a long period of time, but he bears a different surname from the other villagers there. He knows almost everything about Chuen Lung, from its natural habits to human connections. When Leung Chi Wo came to visit Chuen Lung, he found a wealth of heartwarming stories woven within the hills and rivers, but what he found particularly intriguing was Chak Wai Leung, as a “mobile history library”. Using artistic methods, Leung wove moments and passage of time under Chak’s lenses into a story about Chuen Lung. Nestling in the Northern part of Tsuen Wan, within Tai Mo Shan, Chuen Lung boasts countryside dim sum houses and delicious watercress thanks to ample water supply in Tai Mo Shan. The earliest residents of this traditional Hakka village date back to the 19th century, with all indigenous residents there surnamed Tsang. Most villages fail to escape the fate of being forgotten, and here in Chuen Lung, Koon Man School is now deserted, and only a small amount of watercress is still being harvested here. Fortunately, one can still find tofu pudding there, and the dim sum house at the mouth of the village still serves steaming hot BBQ pork buns.
When artists pay visits to Chuen Lung for their arts creations, it is not simply about connecting the urban and the countryside, but also about opening the village’s door of memories, bringing events and people in the past to the present. Leung has brought Chak Wai Leung’s personal memories back to the now defunct Koon Man School, weaving together past moments in the space at present. Leung Chi Wo found the film of an old photograph taken many years ago, with a little Chak in the school playground. Using this film, Leung has made an installation called The Film at a classroom door, in which the film is being rolled, and as the door is being opened and closed, it is as if time itself was rolling back and forth between past and present in that instant. Personal memories have also been projected to the surrounding environment. There is a photo taken by Chak in 1966, in which two of his friends look at Sha Tin at the distance from Chuen Lung. By installing the photo along with a viewfinder, which is shaped like a pyramid, on a classroom window, Leung lets one person look out from the window at one time, and out there, one cannot see the view at present but only Chak’s personal memories.
Others’ memories are etched on viewers’ mind. After all, we, for the most part, are formed by a collage of various memory pieces.