On a chilly February afternoon in 1845, George Duddell, the Government Auctioneer of Hong Kong at the time, acquired at a public auction the first ever opium monopoly. Mr. Duddell and his partner reigned for three months over the commodity that lay at the foundation of this colony. As a very successful auctioneer of cargo ships and real state, his properties included the city’s fridge, known as the Ice House. This is the reason why Duddell Street intersects Ice House Street even to this day. Duddell’s emblematic figure for the early foreign investment in Hong Kong is also a precursor of the changing but continuous flow of such investments. Hong Kong’s history is in many ways a history of foreign presence and of complicated attempts to adapt, to resist, to accept or to localize it by a never entirely local population.
The works presented in this hanging include two 19th century panoramic photographs taken by Felice Beato during the French and the British fleet’s presence at Victoria Harbour during the Second Opium War (Courtesy of Getty Institute); a triptych by Hong Kong based artist Leung Chi Wo on the local resistance to the Japanese occupation during WWII; a neon text piece by Paris based collective Claire Fontaine, on a universal anxiety towards foreigners; and a 1962 Harper’s Bazaar fashion shoot by legendary photographer Francesco Scavullo* in Hong Kong, marking a recurring pattern of consumerist culture in the city.
Press release courtesy Duddell's.