The Unspeakable is a photobook by Hong Kong photographer, Chan Long Hei.
In the second half of 2019, Chan Long Hei appeared at a different protest every single day — no easy feat considering even the protestors who describe themselves as the movement’s “fearless” have not been able to guarantee they will be at every protest. Yet photojournalists are capable of great persistence and of hitting the streets daily. Apart from this being a professional necessity, what drives them forward to an even greater extent is something that cannot be expressed in words, something “unspeakable.”
Turning the pages of Chan Long Hei’s photobook, there are images that induce a sense of déjà vu and images that have made their way into the international media. Many more of the images, however, prove to be mundane yet shocking. Chan Long Hei believes we have for the most part been in a state of confusion throughout the entire movement, as if submerged in tear gas – wearing gas masks, we have been groping for the rocks that will allow us to find our way across a river shrouded in poisoned fog. Even someone who has somehow managed to stick close to the front line doesn’t dare sketch an outline of the movement. Recalling 1997’s handover transition period, much of the creative output dealt with the ’97 handover. People assumed that Hong Kong would suddenly change forever, and hoped to express themselves while they could still breathe freely; after ’97, totalitarianism did not arrive overnight, yet 22 years later, an increasingly hard line is being drawn everywhere in the city. 2019 saw a new chapter in Hong Kong's history, with the strength of two million people united in the midst of this storm.
Aside from a brief period when Chan Long Hei was sidelined due to a water cannon injury, Chan Long Hei has rarely missed a protest.
Published by Soft D Press
Language: English, Chinese
Format: Softcover, 170 pages
Dimensions: H272 x W222 mm
Edition: First Edition
Full Title: The Unspeakable 無以名狀的力量
Publication Date: 2020