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This project is called Mr Heng's Suitcase. I invented an alter ego and wrote a fictional story, the aim of which was to create a body of fashion photographs.
On the recently trip to Paris, by chance I was given a suitcase from a bar owner containing a handful of photographs and a dairy. They reveal that Mr Heng was a photographer in 70's, but he mysteriously disappeared after a fire in his studio. I spent the following months investigating this character, whoeventually become part of my own life.
Here is the story of the book below:
On a recent trip to Paris, whilst staying in the Montmartre area of the city, in a bar not far from my hotel, the proprietor, a friendly old man called Guy, gave me a little shabby old suitcase. It contained a collection of photographs and assorted paraphernalia, which appeared to belong to someone called Mr Heng, or Chi Chi, as he was better known. The suitcase had been given to the bar owner many years before by a beautiful and mysterious woman who claimed to know Chi Chi. It appears that Chi Chi had disappeared in rather curious circumstances after a fire had destroyed his apartment and studio on Rue Gabrielle. Very little survived the fire, just a few notebooks and a handful of charred photographs. The images intrigue me, they are beguiling and melancholic, visual clues that enable the merest of glimpses into a past life.
Little is known about Chi Chi. He was a photographer, who, it seems, had to flee China in the early 1970’s to avoid persecution during the Cultural Revolution. Guy remembers him as a regular customer, who was fairly quiet and pretty much kept himself to himself, but who would occasionally enjoy the company of beautiful and intriguing women. I assume it is these woman that appear in his pictures. I have no idea who they are, or were, but they all seemed to have played an important role in Chi Chi’s life.
What follows, is a collection of prints and artefacts, the contents of Mr Heng’s suitcase, which I have endeavoured to make some sense of.