Michael Wolf

Hong Kong: Front Door / Back Door

Essays by Kenneth Baker and Douglas Young

Surprising and at times shocking, this visual journey takes us through the narrow streets and broad cityscapes of one of the most heavily populated corners of the globe. Yet it is also an insight into a peculiarly unpopulated place, inhabited only by the traces of city dwellers.

The dense architecture and dark back alleys of Hong Kong are home to strangely animated objects that at first glance appear to be the random detritus of the manmade world. But under the close scrutiny of Michael Wolf's photographic eye, these articles become fascinating installation pieces, while the abstract patterns on high-rise blocks reveal the beauty and order that underlie the city's apparent chaos. The scale of Wolf's vision alternates between the grand and the intimate, capturing both the striking facades of the buildings themselves and the minute human interventions that mark them.

Wolf's photographs reflect a deft combination of Western aesthetic formalism and Eastern wabi-sabi. The accompanying texts by Kenneth Baker and Douglas Young explore the choices people make of lifestyle, forms, functions, identity and design, as well as the notion of Hong Kong as a brand.

'Never choreographed or contrived, the pictures … are still stunning'
Sunday Times

'A graphic and visually stunning look at the ability of Hong Kong population to adapt to the apparent modernity of modern architecture'
RPS Journal

'Thought-provoking … captivating photographs … random objects become touching art pieces that lift the spirit and confirm a human presence in a setting that would otherwise appear post-apocalyptic'
iD Magazine


120 Pages
71 color plates
Thames & Hudson, 2005