Solitude versus Togetherness in The Hong Kong Flâneur


The premise for the following works is based on the notion of the Flaneur.  I shall give examples of what I mean by this term in relation to my research and artworks.

The French term Flâneur means strollers or loungers, and yet without the negative connotations of laziness. Rather, it conjures up the literary type of man, the “connoisseur” who strolls leisurely in the streets of picturesque Paris, while understanding, participating and even decorating the city. According to Paul Fournel [20], Flânerie is “a moving photograph (un daguerréotype mobile et passioné) of urban experience”.

In very much the same way with the element of Wabi-Sabi “侘寂” (“Sabi” 寂 means “solitude”), the unique Flâneur of Hong Kong is portrayed in some of our signature streetscapes.

In the form of a series of monochrome photographs taken at the same site at different times to capture the movement of our flâneur activities, underlining the stark contrast between the sensations of  Solitude and Togetherness that uncannily co-exist in our urban experience.

For instance, whether people is sedentary or mobile, such as eating fast food in small noodle shop, waiting for a bus at a bus stop for a friend in front of a shop, or playing basketball in the court, they all share a unsettling sense of solitude that cannot be avoided even by the boisterous maids gathering on Sundays and becomes obvious when a maid is found sitting by herself ……

It seems no matter we are alone or with others, we are all solitary Flâneur too afraid to be singled out, and too busy to feel lonely, even at those rare moments of  “strolling” in this fast-moving city, apparently together.