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Last Days in Hong Kong

By brian_adams 17 December 2014
When local poet Sarah Anne Harris abruptly left Hong Kong to spend time with her dying grandfather in England, she had mixed emotions for the city that both inspired her creativity and overwhelmed her senses. During her time abroad, Harris reflected on her life in our bustling city, focusing her artistic vision with the help of musician and video artist Sim Hutchins. The resulting video, a combination of her spoken word poetry and Instagram photography, is a somewhat unsettling visual journey through our all too often time-lapsed environment. ‘Last Days in Hong Kong’ originated as a poem, written by Harris as she walked to work from her Mong Kok apartment earlier this year. The narrative follows Harris’ path over the harbour and through Central, swinging between our city’s inviting nature and the crushing weight of expectations among one of the world’s financial centres. The poem accentuates the city’s underlying tension, swirling below superficiality, struggling to break through a public face. Even with strained visual effects, Harris’ poem can at times alleviate the tension, showing Hong Kong as a magnet for imaginative travellers.Harris’ photos dive in and out of focus as a looping track plays well against her monotone reading, thanks to Hutchins skilful editing. “These still shots were subjected to a rigorous processing method via physical video camera manipulation and digital-analogue effects, the end product alluding to a kind of anti-hyper-realism animated video,” Hutchins told Localiiz. “Dreams are achievable here. The rich and diverse community allows for amazing projects to be realised,” Harris said. “[Hong Kong is] a wonderful mix of people, exploring ways to develop their characters and personalities. One chance meeting in Hong Kong can change the course of your life forever.” The perception of Hong Kong solely as a financial mecca is another subject Harris addresses in her film and during our interview. “People who have never been to Hong Kong have a perception that the city is sky scrapers and finance,” Harris told Localiiz. “But when people experience Hong Kong for the first time, they see and feel the diversity, the beauty and the opportunity.” While Harris sees poetry as a tool to help Hong Kong’s residents to slow down and take stock of our surroundings, she has advice for our visitors. “Bring a camera, a notebook and turn off your phone. Get hopelessly lost, talk to new people, and never stop striving for the perfect picture and verse.” Read “Last Days in Hong Kong” below. Last Days in Hong Kong by Sarah Anne Harris You make a decision to come You make a decision to leave; the city of dreams You camp out in Mong Kok, and fall in love with Wan Chai You hike and swim and sail and drink Week after week after week I arrived mid summer and gave it my all,br>I saw this city, unimaginable beauty. Advice followed, flowing freely from everyone: “Quit while you are ahead, But don’t give up ‘til your expectations are met” Goals as high as the buildings around You are only lost, until you can be found We tried to be unique, and we desperately tried to fit in We danced and suited up to hide the pain within New friends appear in the night and you see Hong Kong from a new ethereal light We brought colour back to every wall We visited art galleries, went to the theatre and listened to music by the sea We gallivanted under every city light Night after night after night You tell yourself independence is the most important thing Your family arrives, you temporarily feel: SAFE, and then they leave Suddenly nothing can replace the stain of absence, and guilt on your heartstring You ache once again; sleepless night In this mad metropolis of broken but achievable delight Your days are numbered, and the mounting decisions dawn on you Should you leave, stay, change or push through? You fight for what you believe in, You sit on a hundred year old tram through the city You pinch yourself to remember where you are and who you will not be This city of love, hate and every denied emotion in between This city of unthinkable hostility This city that changes everything about you But refuses to accept the altered differences newly created in you Darling, Lady; this city will make a man out of you A million people pass you in a single second in the street Thousands of eyes can see through your bedroom window at night Escape isn't easy in a city of every possibility Volcanic demands; expectations, astronomically high As high as the buildings that fill the sky Grubby Hong Kong streets and the marble lined five star floors The city of a million businesses hidden behind millions of city doors You take the Star Ferry to work, across the harbour sea You watch the skyline wake up with the departing morning fog Time for another day, a long day in your dull soulless office job You believe anything is possible but the surprise is too much to handle You are tired of feeling exhausted and have burnt both ends of every damaged candle How can you feel the decision was wrong? When you have survived this city; Hong Kong

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