Chow and Lin - The Poverty Line – Hong Kong

Chow and Lin

The crux of Chow and Lin’s practice lies in their methodology of statistical, mathematical and computational techniques to address global issues since 2009. Through a typological, photographic approach, Chow and Lin’s projects are driven by the discursive backgrounds in economics, public policy, media, and these are further augmented by enduring exchanges with specialists from those fields. 

Their works have been referenced by the World Bank and showcased at the Triennale di Milano; United Nations ESCAP, Bangkok; Lianzhou Foto; Les Nuits Photographiques, Paris; China Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum; Gexto Photo; Hermitage Museum, Saint-Petersberg; Myanm/art gallery,Yangon; Museum of Modern Art, Tblisi and National University of Singapore Museum. 

Their works are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, China Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum, Beijing and Thessaloniki Museum of Photography. 

Chow and Lin are based in Beijing, China. 

Stefen Chow is a Malaysian-born, Singapore-raised visual artist. His work has been awarded by Tokyo Type Director’s Club, World Press Photo, National Geographic and has worked with institutions including Smithsonian Magazine, GEO, Science and Nature.

Huiyi Lin is an economist by training and is a market researcher. She has a background in economic policy, and obtained an MBA from the Tsinghua University – MIT Sloan School International MBA Program. She has planned and implemented corporate development programs in Singapore and is currently based in Beijing, conducting multi-industry market research for a multinational clientele. She is passionate about solutions that make social, environmental, and commercial sense. 

Chow and Lin
Project Statement

The Poverty Line – Hong Kong

This body of work explores a simple question: What does it mean to be poor?

It is not an emotional statement. It is an examination of the choices one faces living at the poverty line. I work with an economist, Lin Hui-Yi, to ensure factual and statistical consistency. We have documented this project in 16 countries – including Hong Kong – across six continents. We are not trying to compare different countries’ poverty, but rather to have a starting point to understand poverty within a country’s context. For developed countries, where there is relatively updated household consumption data, we focus on the average daily amount that a person at the poverty line would spend on food.

One frame. One person. One day.

Everything else is left up to interpretation.

HKD $44.96 (USD $5.77, EUR£4.01) for food. This is based on a per capita per-day basis of a poverty indicator for Hong Kong (half of the median average household income), and low-income household food expenditure. Hong Kong currently does not have an official poverty line, but this is expected to come into place under the Commission on Poverty which was newly re-established in December 2012. There is presently, however, an official poverty analysis framework uses a multi-dimensional approach to monitor 24 poverty indicators, which includes educational and child social support rates in addition to income indicators. Poverty indicator statistics are mainly collected by the Census and Statistics Department through the General Household Survey and the Social Welfare Department. Poverty and social welfare issues are monitored and championed by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, which is the overall coordinating body for social service NGOs in Hong Kong. Note: Latest available standards and exchange rates were taken as of July 2011, when the photography was undertaken.