The Queen, The Chairman and I • Kurt Tong
244 pps, 112 photographs, 250 x 190m. Hardbound. Dewi Lewis
The Queen, The Chairman and I is a saga of love, hope, and tragedy: a storybook that both uncovers family secrets and reveals the impact of political and economic forces on individuals. It deals with themes of multiculturalism and migration, heritage and empire.
Kurt Tong’s paternal grandfather was a deckhand who arrived in Hong Kong from Shanghai after the fall of the last imperial Chinese dynasty in 1911. His mother’s family were landlords in Southern China. By coming to Hong Kong, they almost certainly escaped death at the hands of Mao’s advancing Communist armies.
Kurt Tong himself grew up in Hong Kong, singing the British National Anthem throughout his school years. At the age of 13, he moved to the UK to continue his education, before finally returning to Hong Kong in 2012. Tong has traced the history of his family in a bid to find out how two of the most influential people in history, Queen Victoria and Chairman Mao, had affected them. Giving equal importance to new photographs, found photographs and writing, the work reconnects him with the Hong Kong of the past, through the recollections of his extended family, humanising the political and social upheaval that took his family to Hong Kong and eventually to the United Kingdom.
Having grown up in the UK, Tong’s work revolves around exploring his Chinese roots and understanding his motherland. His work has been widely exhibited and his monographs includes ‘In Case it Rains in Heaven’ (2011) Kehrer Verlag and ‘Combing for Ice and Jade’ (2019) Jiazazhi Press.