architecture of density

The Robert Kock Gallery in San Francisco is exhibiting the large-scale photographs of Hong Kong-based artist Michael Wolf until the end of February in Architecture of Destiny.

Michael Wolf’s work has largely been concerned with the cultural identity of China, where he has lived since 1995, and his large color photographs depict the daily culture on a scale that is alternately grand and intimate. In his newest series, Architecture of Density, Wolf turns his lens on the vast high-rises of Hong Kong, exploring notions of public and private space and the possibility of adaptation in an urban environment. Wolf writes that “in comparison to the ordered and well-planned European cities, Hongkong is almost like a plant- it grows organically, making space for itself wherever possible. The face of a newly built public housing estate is a blank slate- several years later its facade reflects the ingenuity and improvisational talents of its inhabitants.” Wolf’s photographs of the towering facades of this “architecture of density” offer at first a compelling sense of abstraction and upon closer viewing an abundance of details. Wolf succeeds in capturing both the striking presence of the complexes themselves and the minute human interventions that mark them, and in doing so reveals a humane alertness to both the anonymous and the personal. A monograph of this work, entitled Hong Kong: Front Door/Back Door, will be published by Thames and Hudson in 2005. Wolf’s first monograph, Sitting in China, was published by Steidl in 2002.