SoCO: The Photography of Poverty Resource MagazineMay 3, 2013The fruitful face of China presents a prosperous front to the socio-economic tragedy that is prevalent for the middle and lower classes. There exists a great inequality between those of the higher classes and the virtually unseen poor. Hundreds of thousands of people still live in caged homes and wood-partitioned cubicles, while the unemployed, new-arrived families from China and children in poverty struggle for survival.© Benny Lam for SoCOBenny Lam’s photographs offer a bird-eye-view of the abject poverty that is all too real for these unlucky masses. Sponsored by Society for Community Organization (SoCO), an ONG based in Hongkong, which defends basic rights for all, the series is a close look at a housing crisis that affect tens of thousand of people. What is interesting about the collection is that it captures the scene from above, which creates a sensation that we too are cramped, unable to escape.© Benny Lam for SoCO On February 27th, the Hong Kong government unveiled a series of clipped measurements aiming at supporting the middle class, But in a city where the price of the real estate flames (it doubled since 2009), the inhabitants are too often confined to living in places that are small, meager even.© Benny Lam for SoCOThe small, cramped rooms and lack of common utilities are something of a third world variety. Entire families occupy one bedroom apartments. The smallest apartment is 28 square feet with size of around 4′ x 7.’ (As seen below.)© Benny Lam for SoCO “The families pictured are from low-income families, singletons, elderly persons and unemployed persons living at urban slums in Hong Kong, including Sham Shui Po, Tai Kok Tsui, Kwun Tong, Jordan, etc,” said SoCO’s Community Organizer WONG Chi Yuen. “They can’t afford a high rent rate (with rent rate around HKD $80 to 90 (i.e. USD10.3-11.5) per square feet per month) in the city and wait for public rental housing over years because of the low public housing supply in Hong Kong and the inapt allocation and eligibility policy of public housing.”© Benny Lam for SoCOSoCO’s art exhibition exists to bring to light the dramatic inequality and unlivable living conditions faced by many people via a world-stage. With that knowledge comes responsibility. With hope, Benny Lam’s photographs and SoCO will generate more awareness for the seedy indifference that lies beneath the surface of things.