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Adrift in Time

Photography by Chun Wai



Curated by Dr Florian Knothe

Edited and translated by Dr Florian Knothe,

Christopher Mattison and Walter Chan

Website designed by Wendy Zhang







This exhibition presents the artistic work of Chun Wai created in France in the 1980s-1990s. Adrift in Time—Photography by Chun Wai displays a photographic record of the past and the passing of time. Born in Hong Kong and educated at the École supérieure des beaux-arts de Mulhouse in France, photographer Chun Wai toured Europe on a quest for the beginning of time, understanding that everything he photographed had a finite start and end. This physical and philosophical journey caused the artist to realize that his insights into the relationship suspended between predestination and chance were leading to an expansive form of loneliness—a state he felt was similar to the torment experienced by the ancient Chinese poets. Chun wandered the streets and alleys of great cultural centres like Paris discovering the collections of its great museums, art galleries and flea markets, along with the vast memories contained within, preserved and passed on through the course

of time.





偶 遇
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Paris Gare de l'Est 巴黎東站

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Louvre Museum 羅浮宮

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Rue de Rivoli 里沃利路

Odéon, statue of Danton 奧德昂:丹東的塑像

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Seine River 昨日的塞納河


The Wings of Icarus


Icarus falls slowly

In that moment

The earth will be covered by his damaged wings 

All histories and mazes will melt 

Only a dazzling pyramid will remain 


Passersby in haste







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Passersby 過客前的過客


Marché aux puces II 跳蚤市場 II

Pont au Double 道布勒橋

For thirty years, Chun kept his images of France stored away in a box, as if preserving these treasured memories in a corner of time; a souvenir from which he can now extract memories. Since the ’90s, some of the negatives have deteriorated to the point that the original images are no longer recognizable. They have become tangible illustrations of the passing of time, while the artist’s memories reactivate his endless associations. Whereas it has been said that photography freezes time, Chun’s images and their varying states of damage attest to the flood of time. The reading of these images now leads to another journey, crossing the boundary between memory and forgetting, towards the subsequent truth of chaos.

Further, by juxtaposing the photographic images with carefully composed text, Chun elevates his memories by providing them—and by extension his photographs—further poetic meaning. The journey of his formative time in France was first document-ed in situ, and while some of the pictorial record has been dam- aged by the passing of time, its memory is now revisited and newly described through the augmentation of images and words. In this way, the 2022 project Adrift in Time presents an accumulation of “souvenirs” and wonders first experienced in France and then reconsidered over the decades—part of a life experience in which some is lost and much is gained.

三十年來,秦偉將法國的影像儲於一個盒子內,猶如把珍藏的記憶存於時間長河一隅。相片如紀念品般,可從之擷取記憶。因相片攝於90年代,部分底片已破損,原圖已無法辨識,成為可觸及的流逝時間,亦同時激活藝術家的記憶,誘發他無盡的聯想。有說攝影可凝住時間,而秦偉的相片所受的各種破損,便是時間洪流的見證。現在來重溫昔日影像就如開展另一趟旅程,跨越記憶與遺忘的邊界, 步向混沌的本相。




顯 影

№ 175416742 532

№ 027641623 615

“The tint of abstraction, forms and brightness, boundlessness, weightlessness, are all interwoven and transformed.”

Rendering an image is like an artisan carving a door or a window from a space. The door or window need not be huge—merely large enough for our souls to pass through.

The legendary figure Cangjie is credited with developing the Chinese writing system. It is written in Huainanzi, compiled

in the Western Han dynasty: “When Cangjie invented Chinese characters, the sky rained grain while the spirits cried out at night.” 

“抽象的灰度,形式與明暗,無邊緣, 無重量,相互交織轉換。”

 經營一幅圖像,如工匠作活,在平白的空間上砍造一度門窗,門窗不用太大, 能讓人的心靈恰度進出便可以了。

蒼頡造字,在西漢《淮南子·本經訓》: “昔者蒼頡作書,而天雨粟,鬼夜哭。

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№ 114056937 427

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№ 142851326 751

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№ 107562978 523

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№ 037451752 254

№ 035916253 748

№ 037871579 832

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№ 026541782 649


Adrift in Time is a monologue and travelogue of time. The exhibition presents two sections. The images in the first are figurative, while the latter images are abstract. They were all selected from photographs Chun took when studying in France. Though these images were taken over thirty years ago, he recalls them like it was yesterday. Over the years, some of the photo-graphs have been damaged by mold; however, they remain free from the boundary of preconceptions, and have been opened up to interpretive possibilities. The damaged images are removed from the chains of time and memory. One can’t help but question: what then is the essence of photography? 


Elements of photography and literature are interwoven, yet they are not the same. Chun wishes to expand the realm of poetics with the compelling features of both, merging them into his contemplation of life during such a turbulent era. In the images and texts within Adrift in Time, the artist attempts to trace time, in which all phenomena emerge and perish, along with the relationship between subject and object. In this way, photography becomes a form of contemplation, a reflection on life and existence.




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