Instagram takeover: Kurt Tong

Hong Kong based photographer, Kurt Tong, becomes our next guest editor for our Instagram takeover, February 2017.

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Born in Hong Kong in 1977, Kurt Tong was originally trained as a health visitor at the University of Liverpool. He has worked and traveled extensively across Europe, the Americas and Asia. In 1999, Kurt co-founded Prema Vasam, a charitable home for disabled and disadvantaged children in Chennai, South India.

Kurt became a full-time photographer in 2003. He was the winner of the Luis Valtuena International Humanitarian Photography Award with his first picture story documenting the treatment of disabled children in India. He worked for many other NGOs and covered stories from Female Infanticide to ballroom dancers.

He gained his Masters in documentary photography at the London College of Communications in 2006 and began working on much more personal projects. He has since been chosen as the winner of Photograph.Book.Now competition, the Hey, Hot Shot! competition and the Jerwood Photography Award for his project People’s Park, a wistful exploration of the now deserted Communist era public spaces. “In Case it Rains in Heaven’ exploring the practice of Chinese funeral offerings, has been widely exhibited including a solo exhibition at Compton Verney and features in several public collections. A monograph of the work was published by Kehrer Verlag in 2011.

His more recent work, ‘The Queen, The Chairman and I’, a multilayered narrative picture book dealing with the story of Hong Kong of the last 100 years and the Asian Diaspora through the lives of his own family is presented as a Chinese teahouse. The project has been exhibited across 5 continents, most recently at the Victoria Museum in Liverpool, UK and Galleri Image in Denmark and Visual Art Center at the Chinese Cultural Foundation of San Francisco. The installation opened at Impressions Gallery in Bradford in 2016 and continue to tour different venues across the UK.

Much of Kurt’s recent work, while remaining photographic in essence, has moved towards installation and sculptural based, pushing the boundaries of the medium. Echoed Visions, a series of installation question the medium of photography, made its debut at the Identity Art Gallery, Hong Kong in February 2014.

心.思.過. , a public participation project set within an classical Chinese garden in Zhongshan opened in August 2015 and will become a permanent feature within the park.

His latest work Sweet Water, Bitter Earth and Trust Little in Tomorrow made their debut at Unseen in Amsterdam, with planned exhibitions in the UK, US and China.

This is Kurt Tong @kurttong77 on my fifth day of taking over @photoworks_uk account. After reconnecting with my ancestors in my previous project, Sweet Water, Bitter Earth (2014-2106) is my journey into China in search of redemption and the ultimate failure to make a connection with my supposed homeland. My paternal ancestral lines has strong affiliation with the sea, as fisherman, as deckhands, as traders. After photographing extensively in my ancestral town without being able to make any meaningful photographs, I decided to submerge the negatives in the sea along the route that they travelled, allowing the sea to corrode the dye as a metaphor for the little connection I have with the place. These are shown alongside other images I made around the rest of the vast country. #kurttong #china #sweetwaterbitterearth #swpa

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This is Kurt Tong @kurttong77 on my fourth day of taking over @photoworks_uk account. Bunnan (my paternal grandfather) in Shanghai, 1906 from the series ‘The Queen, The Chairman and I’ (2009-2012), the project is a visual storybook for my daughters. Giving equal importance to new photographs, found photographs and writing, this project reconnects me with the Hong Kong of the past, through the recollections of my extended family, humanising the political and social upheaval that took my family from China to Hong Kong and eventually to the United Kingdom. Central to the exhibition of this project is a contemporary Chinese teahouse installation where visitors are invited to drink tea, read the storybook, and share their own family stories. The project is currently on show @impgalleryphoto until the 18th of March and will be touring to several venues across the UK in the next 2 years. #kurttong #thequeenthechairmanandi #hongkong #viewsfromchina

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He is represented by Jen Bekman Gallery in New York and The Photographer’s Gallery in London.

Kurt Tong: The Queen, The Chairman and I shows at Impressions Gallery, Bradford until 18 March 2017

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For more on our Instagram takeovers, click here. 

Related project: Instagram Takeovers

We ask guest editors to take over our Instagram account for 5 days and show us what they’re looking at, their daily experiences and what they get up to. 

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