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Hong Kong. An average of 6,700 people living in a single square kilometer. A place where personal space is too important to be wasted. German photographer Michael Wolf, who lived in the city for 22 years, developed a fascination towards the tiny comfortable eccentrities hidden in Hong Kong’s back alleys, where one can catch the quiet of the moment before getting back to the main street’s rush.
Wolf’s new book, entitled “Informal Solutions – Observations in Hong Kong Back Alleys”, was published in January this year and contains 1637 color images, the result of thirteen years exploring back alleys.
Multi-functional alleys. They represent a unique place, though often only a few feet wide. Workers taking a quick cigarette break between shifts. Laundry laid drying. Rubber gloves and fishes hung up to air. Hanging gardens where orchids and coat hangers combine together. Mops propped against the alley walls like pick-up sticks to prevent them from falling.
Wolf started his project thirteen years ago. His curiosity brought him to Hong Kong’s back alleys, a no man land where government doesn’t interfere; workers’ natural and undisturbed habitat. In his images, Wolf reveals the residents’ hidden creativity developed due to the necessity of improvising domestic solutions in order to fight the high-density issue. Authorities see back alleys as a blemish on the otherwise pristine cityscape and are intentioned to clear them in order to turn them into clean channels for pedestrians, but the residents who frequent the alleys see them nothing less than extensions of their own homes.