INSOMNIA
2009-2010

 LED backlit lightboxes. Photography prints on Duratrans films. Cantopop soundtrack.

LED backlit lightboxes. Photography prints on Duratrans films. Cantopop soundtrack.

Night Owls, Urban Butterflies...

Insomnia is the state of involuntary sleep deprivation caused by psychological disturbances or disorder. Malala Andialavidrazana, with her photograph series “Insomnia”, tracks the wanderings of a lost sleep through the nocturnal geography of a major city: Hong Kong...

Night in Hong Kong... Signage glitzing, a few lively streets, others deserted..

Hidden behind these signs are places: bars, hotels, peep shows... These places take over once the stir of daytime action quits spinning... Spots where people come to drown their loneliness, their shortcomings, their fleeting encounters... In essence, these are spots where night owls loiter, attracted to the lights like lone moths fallen from love’s grace and searching for warmth. Sleepwalkers often on the loose whose days become dim, impersonal, and painstaking… An animated city, saturated with activity, and the backside of its decor...

Of the places behind these signs, we shall see nothing, if not the vague outline of silhouettes in the window... In these streets, a nameless couple kissing, a man seen eating from behind, chatting with the tavern keeper.

Malala Andrialavidrazana, shows nothing of these places. Her photos drop us off at the outer limits, the edges of these places where a few moments of respite attempt to slip away from insomnias, both day and night. Through her photographs, Malala Andrialavidrazana strives only to hypothesize, to define possible scenarios, to let our imaginations wander...

Here she situates her work in the nightlife of a megalopolis bound to business, to trading activities, but equally bounding with history; a city in which we can observe the mingling of ultra-modernity, as well as the vestiges, the marks of a timeless Hong Kong − street vendor stalls lost in the strata of a modern and invasive urbanity... Traces of modernity emerging here and there, in shimmering advertisements, the mark of a major brand appearing in the background of a photo, emerging as well in the graffiti, in the piles of newspaper ready for morning delivery... Traces finely transcribed by Malala Andrialavidrazana.

(…) These signs, street names, inscriptions turn into a language and transmit an evocative game: “Pearl Vietnamese restaurant” written above a group of forlorn girls, a Nokia ad on a luminous screen and, in the forefront, the expressionless face of a man on his own... This game of decryption brings us back to, and participates in, the building of various possible scenarios. The urban signage becomes a dialogue...

The photographs of Malala force no situation upon us, leaving us alone to drift through this state of insomnia, in the floating world of nighttime in the big city, dropping us at the doorstep of the “Red lips bar”... where, just maybe, a story might take place...

Text by Valery Poulet, translated from French. 
Original title: “Phalènes Urbaines” published on February 8th, 2010 in Transversales.

 

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