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Hong Kong Whispers – Arpaïs Du Bois & Michael Wolf

April 17 @ 9:30 - May 18 @ 19:00

April 17 @ 9:30 May 18 @ 19:00

Arpaïs Du Bois & Michael Wolf
Hong Kong Whispers
exhibition of works

Micamera, April 17 – May 18

On Tuesday, April 30, Barbara Wolf will be at Micamera to talk about the making of the book Hong Kong Whispers released by Hannibal Books

I hope, I believe, that Michael would say: ‘wonderful project’
– Arpaïs Du Bois

#30 (untitled), mixed media on paper (Du Bois) / archival pigment print (Wolf), edition of 3, frame 25 x 35 cm

Hong Kong Whispers is a collaborative work between Belgian drawer and painter Arpaïs Du Bois (°1973) and German photographer Michael Wolf (1954 – 2019).

Invited by Wolf, who had very much appreciated her previous collaboration with Yamamoto Masao (that had resulted in an exhibition and book titled ‘Where we met’), in 2014 Arpaïs Du Bois spent almost two months in Hong Kong, where he introduced her to the rapidly changing city and its back alleys.

He photographed, recording the back alleys with his typical, immediate approach; she drew in the evenings, recalling the impressions and the emotions of the day. And they talked and discussed and decided how to match photographs and drawings, as the appreciation of each other’s works, as much as their friendship, grew.

Although her work is often abstract, it is driven by a keen sense of observation and remains deeply connected to the world around her’ – writes Marc Feustel about Du Bois’ drawings in the introduction to the publication that accompanies this exhibition (available here). The book is based on a sequence and a dummy that were assembled by the two artists in Hong Kong at the end of this six-week residency. The final book and exhibition have been curated by Arpaïs Du Bois together with Barbara Wolf.

#38 (untitled), mixed media on paper (Du Bois) / archival pigment print (Wolf), edition of 3, frame 25 x 35 cm

Hong Kong Whispers seems the perfect title for a work that celebrates two different but complementary visions. Neither of them prevails. For Micamera this is also a prosecution of the exhibition ‘Hong Kong Back Alley‘ that we had organised with Hannes Wanderer at Micamera in 2016, as if the conversation with Michael and Hannes had never been interrupted, taking up new forms, expanding and including new voices.

Wolf’s images, that at times remind of Surrealist art, belong to a very consistent body of work that shows how inhabitants optimised the use of space in a fast-growing city, creating a different, underground map of Hong Kong and its vernacular culture.

On a different level, this exhibition also gives us the opportunity of displaying photography in association with drawings, as we have done with Todd Hido and Marina Luz (The perfect measure, 2015), or Tamara Shopsin and Jason Fulford (The Beach Ball and the Crab, 2017).

We are grateful to Arpaïs Du Bois, to Barbara Wolf and Pierfrancesco Celada, to publisher Hannibal Books and to GALLERY FIFTYONE – where the exhibition will open on May 4th.

#52 (untitled), mixed media on paper (Du Bois) / archival pigment print (Wolf), edition of 3, frame 25 x 35 cm

Arpaïs Du Bois (°1973, lives and works in Antwerp) approaches man’s being-in-the-world in a very personal and intimate way. Her drawings and texts are at the same time sharp and ambiguous; playful and poetic observations of the world that surrounds her. Out of an intense involvement, she reflects on societal issues, big and small, and the often unnoticed moments and events that shape our lives. Amidst the abundance of impressions that come to us every day, Du Bois’s drawings create a moment of stillness and reflection. They are often syntheses of images, expressing as much as possible with a minimum of resources. They offer the viewer a resting point, a way to frame the chaotic reality.

The content of Du Bois’s exhibitions is generally provided in the form of pages torn from her drawing books arranged in novel constellations, combined with mid-scale and large-scale drawings and paintings on paper. She is represented by GALLERY FIFTYONE in Antwerp.

Her work has been published in many books (her bibliography here). Among them, Where we met (Lannoo, 2011 -with Yamamoto Masao) and Hong Kong Whispers (Hannibal Books, 2024)

Michael Wolf (Munich, 1954 – Hong Kong, 2019)
The focus of the German photographer Michael Wolf’s work is life in megacities. Many of his projects document the architecture and the vernacular culture of metropolises. Wolf grew up in Canada, Europe and the United States, studying at UC Berkeley and at the Folkwang school with Otto Steinert in Essen, Germany. He moved to Hong Kong in 1994 where he worked for some years as contract photographer for Stern magazine. Since 2001 he focused on his own projects, many of which have been published by his close friend Hannes Wanderer (Peperoni Books).


Wolf’s work has been exhibited in many locations, including the Venice Biennale for Architecture, Aperture Gallery in New York; Museum Centre Vapriikki in Tampere, Finland, Museum for Work in Hamburg, Germany, the Hong Kong Shenzhen Biennial, the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago. In 2017 a big retrospective exhibition was beautifully curated by Wim van Sinderen. Launched in Arles and coproduced by the Fotomuseum den Haag, it was accompanied by book Works (Peperoni Books, 2017, with a text by Marc Feustel). A smaller version of this exhibition was presented at Fondazione Stelline, Milan, in 2018.

His work is held in many permanent collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Brooklyn Museum, the San Jose Museum of Art in California, the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, the Museum Folkwang in Essen and the German Museum for Architecture in Frankfurt.
He won the first prize at the World Press Photo twice (2005 and 2010). received an honorable mention in 2011 and was shortlisted for the Prix Pictet in 2010.

His work has been published in over thirty books, mostly released by Peperoni Books, until publisher Hannes Wanderer’s untimely death in 2018.

Among the posthumous publications: Paris (5 Continents Editions, 2019) and Architecture Of Density Hong Kong (Buchkunst Berlin, 2022; a body of work first published by Peperoni Books and Asia One in 2012), and now Hong Kong Whispers.

Michael Wolf’s books here
Arpaïs Du Bois’s website here