|Yu Sum at The Great Wall||
My father, Yu Sum Ko, has never asked me to take his photograph in all the time I have known him other than during this first visit back to his homeland, China. This was a revelation that came to me months after our family trip, a journey through China that lasted for almost a month and took us from Beijing to Hong Kong.
This is Yu Sum's return to a country he escaped 52 years ago during the chaos of Mao Zedong’s China. After smuggling his way to Hong Kong he left behind more than a country, but family and friends, and his home. The China that is now open for visitors is no longer the China Yu Sum knew and those he left behind have grown old, some have passed away, and his childhood neighborhood has been modernized beyond remembrance.
This is a portrait of a journey, an outsider's perspective of China, my father, and tourism all in one. This is an investigation into the portrait of a tourist standing at a site and what that image means when it is about finally making it back home. This is proof that it had ever happened, that it did happen, and here is the evidence. Yu Sum finally made it back.
|Lady of the Wall||Man Sitting on Camel||Cattle in Yangshou||Woman Covered in Mud||Illuminated Stalactites, Yangshou||Imitation Guard in Pingyao||Woman Wearing an Umbrella for a Hat||The Great Wall||Horse Waits for Tourists at Yulong River||Dog and Man Wait on Circular Bench, Hong Kong||Giant Buddah, Hong Kong||Suburb in Development||Terracotta||Palm and Finger||Sunrise in Yangshou||Couple's Retreat Garden, Suzhou||Man Texting at Couple's Retreat Garden, Suzhou||The World's Largest Garden Snake, Shanghai||35mm Snapshots||Underpass||Broken Glass at Empty Train Station||Guard at the Forbidden City||Man at Monument||Reviewing Changes to the Village Where Yu Sum was Born and Raised (Nafok)||Where Fields Once Stood in Nafok Village||Modern House in Nafok Village||Yu Sum Holds His Sister||Yu Sum Holds His Brother||
Proof of Existence
To my father returning to China was both an act of confronting as well as finally making his return. Here he was on his journey home, after five decades. The photograph of him there, and in the years to pass, will exemplifies his return, that his body was planted in place in the physical space that was forbidden, too far away, and unattainable. But the photograph is only a representation to this moment, supplementary to his experience and there as proof. The one moment out of much more, it is a tiny splinter of life -- there as a guide, and nothing more.
|Ko Family Portrait, 2013||Ko Family Portrait, 1990|