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Underbelly Exposed

January 09, 2014

Yakuza


One of Hong Kong’s more novel galleries, the AO: Vertical Art Space, landed smack bang in up-and-coming art nabe Chai Wan in mid-2012, and since then the unusual space (it’s housed in the 3rd-13th floor stairwell of Asia One Tower) has played host to high-profile ‘vertical flow’ exhibitions like Liu Heung Shing’s chronological Portrait of China, as seen by Chinese Photographers, and Ho Fan’s Hong Kong Yesterday. If you’ve yet to make it out to the island east enclave, now’s the time: on view until the end of the month is Belgian photographer Anton Kusters’ groundbreaking Yakuza.

 
The notorious Japanese mafia, with a global reputation for secrecy as much as for brutality, is exquisitely exposed and humanised in Kusters’ visual account, meticulously compiled over a period of more than two years. It was only after months of exhaustive negotiation that he finally gained no-holds-barred access to the crime family’s inner circle, and the tense disparity of his subjects’ home and ‘work’ lives, along with their struggle to operate within Japanese society, is depicted through photographs, video and text of a kind rarely, if ever, before seen. The show has travelled the world to countries including Australia, Italy, and Kusters’ homeland Belgium, and the photographer’s hardcover book accompaniment has sold out both its first and second editions. Eye-opening, review-blitzing and best-selling, it’s a unique behind-the-curtain glimpse of the dark side not to be missed.
 
3-13/F / Asia One Tower / 8 Fung Yip St / Chai Wan / +852 2976 0913 / 10am-6pm Tue-Sat / until 24 Jan / aovertical.com
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