Hong Kong is similar to Hong Kong at night. More mysterious perhaps under that sun that enhances the multicolored advertisements, the rosy red bronze in which the people are sculpted and the frame of the paintings in which they live.
Pascal Greco is a photographer and director who already has several international productions to his credit. Super 8, a poetic film made with the composer Kid Chocolat in 2008, Nowhere with an original soundtrack composed by Goodbye Ivan was created in 2013, Stun, a film that closes this trilogy and which involved the dancer Stefania Cazzato was created in 2015. In 2017 Greco, together with Philippe Pellaud created Shadow, a magnetic, intense and hypnotic movie with actress Asia Argento and her daughter Anna-Lou Castoldi. In addition to his activity as a director, Greco has published several photography books and it is precisely on his latest book on which he worked from 2012 to 2019 that I would like to focus.
Hong Kong Neon is a project that continues the research that Greco had already carried out in 2018 in his book dedicated to Hong Kong architecture. It includes a film and a book documenting the famous Hong Kong signs. Ever since the Clause Neon Light, the first neon light factory, opened in 1932, neon signs have become not only a characteristic sign of the landscape but also a true symbol of Hong Kong, one of the "vertical developing” cities most famous in the world. I am speaking about the Hong Kong we saw in the movies of Wong Kar-Wai or Ridley Scott with the characteristic cityscape that we all have in mind.
Once, but also today with the use of computers, when an entrepreneur needed a sign, he called a calligrapher to write the name of the company with a brush and ink and then have the calligraphy transposed on neon or Plexiglas by a manufacturer of signs. A procedure linked to the peculiarities of Chinese characters that is impossible to carry out on a computer. In any case, Hong Kong's neons are not just a decoration, a sign, but they represent a real visual language that must be protected and preserved as we are used to doing with works of art. In fact, for reasons of energy saving, safety (the signs protrude too much), obsolescence of use (today there is Google Maps) but also political reasons in the last 15 years, thanks also to the arrival of LED technology, 90% of signs was dismantled either by erosion of Hong Kong culture or by a growing influence of China.
Thus many conservation initiatives were born such as the M+ museum which acquired many disused neon lights such as the famous cow of Sammy's Kitchen and produced the film The Making of Neon Signs which shows both the creative and artisanal work that is going on behind the production of the signs.
Pascal Greco also moves in this context of international mobilization. He carried out his photographic project between 2012 and 2019 using a photographic format that is now also in danger of extinction: Polaroid & Fujifilm instant photography. This is an important documentation: two-thirds of the signs documented in the book no longer exist today. The book also includes two interviews with two masters of the art of producing neon signs: Wu Kai-Chi and Fung Siu Wah. Through a QR Code in the book, it is possible to see a 10-minute documentary with the music of r beny.
All the Polaroids dedicated to his works and books on Hong Kong - its architecture, Hong Kong, 2018; its neon signs, Hong Kong Neon, 2021 - will be presented together for the first time in an exhibition that opens on June 15 in Geneva at Galerie Ruine when a limited edition box set including the two books will also be presented.