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Pok Chi Lau’s Chinese Diaspora

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In 2005 when I first met Pok Chi Lau, we were both taking part in the first Lianzhou Photo Festival. The following year he came to Shanghai bringing with him a group of students from Kansas University, where he used to teach. We had a very interesting long exchange on documentary photography, with his students joining in, and Pok Chi kindly offered me his book, Dreams of the Golden Mountain. I was impressed by his personal story to the point that I ended up curating an exhibition of his series “Red Walls”, which was one of his most creative and conceptual works. Red Walls are set up as diptychs, one image narrating his experience of returning to his ancestral home in Guangdong, and one image about the remaining traces of the Cultural Revolution on the walls. It was the first time that I discovered the shocking stories of mainlanders in the 1970s swimming across the Pearl River to reach Hong Kong as clandestine migrants, using balloons, basketballs, even condoms…. But Pok Chi Lau’s focus has always been about the Chinese...

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