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Lessons (2000)

Lessons (2000)

Ho Tam




edition of 3

8 x 10 inches



The artist reflects on personal memories, the collective schooling experience and the lessons learned during these formative years — love, desire, discipline, trust, fear and loss of innocence.

“Ho Tam presents us with a moving banquet of images that capture a cinematic courtyard filled with school boys in the early morning, in elementary classrooms, receiving lessons, streaming into hallways and down staircases into washrooms and back out again through large doorways to meet the end of the school day. The images presented fall apart and coalesce. We receive the linear fields as technological screens or digital dot matrix replicated in warm sepia tones — collected from remembrance of childhood past.


The stills in Ho Tam’s Lessons were originally shot on videotape, and were then projected on a television and photographed from the screen. Tam made the videotape on a return visit to La Salle, the Catholic boys school of his childhood in Hong Kong, after the expiration of the colony’s ninety-nine-year lease to Great Britain and its subsequent return to China. The photographs show the institution's colonial architecture and the young students housed within. The geography and history of children depicted in this body of work are significantly different from those of Canadian children. Nevertheless, Lessons reveals an imprint of a colonial past, an imprint that also echos within Canadian educational institutions, evincing similarity and difference.” — Carla Garnet, 2001


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