Umbrella Man

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I cannot help but be aware of my class consciousness even as I think on this image. He looks up, as if in hope, and the umbrella might shelter him from the harsh sunlight. Yet what has he to look forward to except a life among slightly decrepit buildings such as the one above him in the background? The tattoo of his left shoulder speaks of a defiance against a middle-class, executive presentation of the self. I can understand how such an image could be aestheticized, probably in a film by Wong Kar-wai.

Is this the only narrative I could conjure for him?

One thought on “Umbrella Man

  1. (imagined response): what are you thinking? the umbrella is not for me. nor am i looking forward to anything in particular. my good lord, will it rain? no, it’s just sweat pouring down my neck. between love and resentment is the dust you inhale too, mate. why do i need put on a smile to say this is my home, my community?
    that face of indifference, methinks. the coincidence of how disparate things and spaces patch together in a photograph. i think i recognize where you took this photo; i used to live in that area, and many years ago, old kowloon city. perhaps it’s only from a passerby (or, outsider’s) eyes that the everyday becomes more like spectacle that calls for ‘narratives’. now, i have an odd feeling of seeing myself both as an outsider and part of the community, with the urge to resist narration but at the same time wanting to tell another version of it.
    ah, and Wong Kar-wai! i reckon you’re probably thinking about Chungking Express or As Tears Go By! talk about aestheticizing ‘mundane’ and trivial images, my friends said they don’t like Wong’s films because they think he’s ‘making too much’ out of ordinary things. but I like him precisely because he observes and captures subtleties, and that seeming deliberateness was actually done in a rather improvised, unscripted manner, aptly expressing the sense of murkiness to *be* in the community. his films speak of an alternative story other than the legit version of ‘success story’ or kung fu Jacky Chan international world city crap where the city, the community is just a backdrop… (that’s actually the reason why i love the Hong Kong Second Wave as well)

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