This site and instagram is dedicated to my quiet and unassuming father, France Chi-Kwong Lee. He was born in Mauritius, a small island country just East of Africa, in November 1934. As the oldest son in a traditional Chinese Hakka family, it was his duty to stop school and begin work at age 13 to support his parents and siblings. At age 86, he is now spending his twilight years fulfilling the personal goal of seeing as many countries as possible. Follow him on instagram where I’ll be uploading his #film photographs all over the world.
I am Esmond Lee, a second generation Chinese-Canadian artist, photographer, and practising architect exploring long-term and intergenerational experiences of migration in the urban-periphery. My family and I live together in an arrangement of mutual care. In this shared house, I explore our identities and relationships, or lack thereof, through objects and spaces. This approach is drawn from my background in architecture where I am intrigued by how our identities imprint and shape the physical environment around us. But more importantly, I have ethical concerns in photographing my father. I see how photography is often used in an exploitative process and reinforces the imbalance of power between the photographer and subject.
In 2017, I began buying 35mm film for my father in an effort to empower and better understand him. Reviving his old point and shoot film camera has provided him an important sense of relevancy in a modern world that demands digital literacy. Through film photography, he is also able to author his own depiction and legacy. By reviewing and looking at these photographs, I am able to see him beyond the risk-adverse, conservative role of “father,” and instead as a complex individual with aspirations, curiosity, and talent. At the same time, he is able to understand and appreciate my passion for the arts. Looking at his photographs has allowed me to see what he appreciates and become closer to him.
I also want to see if my father will become more instagram famous than me as he is most definitely cooler 😎
If you would like to know more about him or this collaborative project, feel free to reach us at contact [a] esmondlee [dot] com or leave a message below.