Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated cities on the planet. It is home to almost 7.5 million people, which works out to roughly 6,000 per square kilometre, or six per square metre. With so many people living in cramped apartments, within one of the world’s most expensive real estate markets, residents are turning to public spaces to execute their everyday chores.
Walking around the city, Ho Wing Ka Jimmi noticed how more and more residents were creating improvised washing lines, tied up between street lamps or along the sides of metal fences that line towering apartment blocks. In Hong Kong it is illegal to hang laundry in public spaces, but many do not have enough space for a dryer in their homes, so unless they can afford a laundry service, this is their only option.
Curious to find more, Ho continued to explore the city by foot, finding bed sheets draped across park benches, on the fence along the sides of busy roads, and even across whole staircases – the strangest place he has seen laundry so far. “It is inadvertently adding vitality to public spaces,” says the 25-year-old photographer, who is one of the 12 artists selected to exhibit at KG+, the satellite event for emerging photographers at Kyotographie International Photography Festival in Japan.
Laundry is hardly a creative chore, but Ho’s colourful images capture the imaginative ways in which ordinary people are challenging how public space is used and shared. The way in which Ho frames the laundry – within a surrounding landscape of dull concrete and pops of colour – presents it as if it was always there; like unintentional urban sculptures.
Laundry Art by Jimmy Ho in on show at the former Junpu elementary school in Kyoto, Japan, until 12 May. It will also be exhibited in a group exhibition at Le French May in Hong Kong.