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The Book Column : Setanta Books : Lean Lui : Aseptic Field


Gathering five years of photographic exploration, Aseptic Field, Lean Lui‘s second book, emerges as a sensual and sensory autopsy of the loss of innocence. This work resurrects the photographer’s use of metaphor to weave a narrative thread strongly anchored in the realm of dreams and revolving around the feminine.

Aseptic field is a scientific term to describe a sterile environment, a space shielded from all bacterial intrusion. Lean Lui makes a parallel between this space shielded from any bacterial intrusion and her own intimacy, which she thinks of as sanctuary that the reader intrudes upon like a foreign body. Across the pages, the grace of the opalescent-toned images is gradually disrupted by darker scenes, drawing from the mysterious atmosphere of the Hong Kong-based photographer. The world corrodes progressively, losing its bearings, and the readers find themself immersed in a dream that is both soft and nightmarish.

The wavering between dream and nightmare, fascination and repulsion, is palpable. Aseptic Field awakens our senses. The reader will alternately feel the softness of mother-of-pearl or a fabric and stickier or coarser textures. Amidst these images bordering on abstraction, several portraits of her sister evoke inaccessible young girls confined to their thoughts or their backs turned to us, imparting an overall sense of melancholy.

For Lean Lui, this invasion of the reader, akin to a bacterium disturbing the purity of her intimacy, resonates with life itself spoiling the human soul with its ordeals. Aseptic Field echoes the end of adolescence and the entering into adulthood. It encapsulates Lean Lui’s own journey, a rite of passage vividly embodied in the book, a book that words can hardly describe, given the eloquence of its poetic imagery.


Lean Lui — Aseptic Field
Published by Setanta Books
240 x 190 mm
Handmade softcover
Japanese binding, hand sewn
Limited edition of 250 signed and numbered copies

Available in all good bookstores and online

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