From High-Rises to the Street: A Look Back at Michael Wolf’s Photographs
Earlier this year, German-born, Hong Kong–photographer Michael Wolf passed away. An award-winning photographer who first moved to Hong Kong in 1994 while working as a photojournalist, he used his camera to focus in on the structures of megacities as well as the consequences of urbanisation on humans. We invited writer Blues Wong to pay tribute to Wolf’s depictions of Hong Kong and other places in Asia. Below, he traces Wolf’s two distinct thematic directions, looking at both the architectural level and the street level.
A handful of world-class photographers have propelled Hong Kong to international fame. There are the ‘good old days’ colonial photographs taken by John Thomson (1837–1921) in the 1860s–1870s, and by Ho Fan (1931–2016) in the 1950s–1960s. There is Greg Girard (born 1955–), who featured the underground world of Kowloon Walled City in the 1980s–1990s and turned it into an unorthodox icon of Hong Kong. Joining this exemplary line-up, the late German photographer Michael Wolf (1954–2019) was a contemporary artist focused on Asia, with an emphasis on China and Hong Kong. Through his lens, he revealed our embedded Hong Kong cultural identity after the return of sovereignty to mainland China in 1997.