The University Museum and Art Gallery (UMAG), The University of Hong Kong, is honoured to work with photographer Chun Wai and the French May Arts Festival to present Adrift in Time—Photography by Chun Wai, an exhibition of photographs taken by the artist in France in the 1980s–1990s. Born in Hong Kong and educated at the École supérieure des beaux-arts de Mulhouse in France, photographer Chun Wai toured Europe on a quest for the beginning of time, understanding that everything he photographed had a finite start and end.
This physical and philosophical journey caused the artist to realise that his insights into the relationship suspended between predestination and chance were leading to an expansive form of loneliness—a state he felt was similar to the torment experienced by the ancient Chinese poets. Chun wandered the streets and alleys of great cultural centres like Paris discovering the collections of its great museums, art galleries and flea markets, along with the vast memories contained within, preserved and passed on through the course of time.
For thirty years, Chun kept his images of France stored away in a box, as if preserving these treasured memories in a corner of time; a souvenir from which he can now extract memories. Since the ’90s, some of the negatives have deteriorated to the point that the original images are no longer recognisable. They have become tangible illustrations of the passing of time, while the artist’s memories reactivate his endless associations. Whereas it has been said that photography freezes time, Chun’s images and their varying states of damage attest to the flood of time. The reading of these images now leads to another journey, crossing the boundary between memory and forgetting, towards the subsequent truth of chaos.