Kowloon Walled City, 1987

Hong Kong 2016
Taka Ishii Gallery
Photography
Gelatin silver print
34.6 x 51.3 (cm)
13.6 x 20.2 (inch)
Ryuji Miyamoto (b.1947) worked as an editor for the magazine Toshi Jutaku (Urban Residence) until 1975, and first came to be known to the public in 1986 for his photographs of demolished buildings entitled the “Architectural Apocalypse” series. Miyamoto entered the inner depths of contemporary urban space and portrayed its fascinating chaos through photographs of demolition sites of movie theaters, department stores and prisons in Tokyo, Berlin and Brussels. This photographic manifesto was published in 1988. Not long afterward, he presented Angkor (1991), a photographic treatment of the ruins of Angkor in Cambodia and Cardboard Houses (1994), an exploration of the dwellings of the homeless, who Miyamoto refers to as “contemporary hunters and gatherers.” The Cardboard Houses served as an incentive that led Miyamoto to produce the Pinhole Houses (1999-2004). Miyamoto expressed destruction in its ultimate form in KOBE 1995 After the Earthquake, a shocking group of photographs that directly capture the “death of a city.” These images were presented in the 6th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 1996. His 1988 work, Kowloon Walled City is an observation of the decline and fall of this famous block of slum apartments in Hong Kong. For innumerable people who suffered setback in the tumultuous history of modern East Asia, the city had functioned as a communal refuge on the farthest margins. Miyamoto captures a massive crystallization of the communal unconscious of the Chinese; a miraculous, and uncommonly transcendent phenomenon of human ingenuity.