Time to catch up on all things Hong Kong whilst I have some down time in Tainan, Taiwan…also before heading to Shanghai on Thursday afternoon. I’ve coined myself ‘International Researcher on Tour (IROT)’ where wordgirl has become worldgirl. Usual WG practice.
On the first full day of my Hong Kong visit, after a visit to Para Site, Morgan Wong’s studio and 100ft. PARK, I continued my walk down Apliu Street, Sham Shui Po district, Kowloon, to a new space called Things that can happen｜咩事藝術空. Established by Chantal Wong (Asia Art Archive), Lee Kit (artist) and Mary Lee (writer and Bibliophile), ‘Things‘ aims to ‘provide a platform for open experimentation and dialogue, a testing site for research methodologies, in response to the rapidly changing cultural and political context of our city.’ The space, a 1960s ‘tong lau’ residential unit, is on the first floor of a residential building heading for redevelopment as with other parts of Hong Kong. Limited by this time frame, they have conceived a two-year programme of exhibitions and projects of local to international artists, residencies, and a “curated” bookshop.
Their mission is simple. ‘Recent political developments in Hong Kong have triggered a spirit of political and civil urgency amongst the city’s population. These resistance movements are not only shifting the socio-political landscape but has also roused a creative awakening amongst the people of Hong Kong and inspired a profound reimagination of the city and its citizens. It is vital at this juncture to provide platforms that continue nurturing this sense of curiosity, especially in a city where imagination and experimentation continue to find little structural support. By opening up the creative processes taken by artists both locally and internationally, ‘Things‘ aims to support the furthering of such discussions and aesthetic experiments in Hong Kong while connecting them to wider conversations.’
“The art scene is growing bigger and bigger but the distance between the money side of art and the grass-root side is also getting bigger and bigger. I don’t know if it’s good or not, but I think there could be more discussion about that.” – Lee Kit (Hong Kong Tatler, September 2015)
‘Things‘ inaugural exhibition was ‘“Jungle of Desire”: An Exhibition by Wong Ping‘ – a colourific visual kingdom laced with his signature literal and metaphorical graphic (in part polished design) looking into sexual joy and tension, evil thoughts and language, wanted desire and building anger, ultimately the darker sides of lust all in relation to the current context of Hong Kong’s unsettling political atmosphere. Through neon lights, inflatables, illustrations, reappropriated found objects and films, he creates a language…
“…to talk about different topics like politics, love and life…In a high-pressure place like Hong Kong, I am a suppressed person and this is mediation for me. I just try to be honest and speak out about my evil shame and other people’s.” – Wong Ping
Take a look at a selection of his video works here. The space was an immersive, alluring, playful, funfair versus the offensive, controversial and to some awkward content on show, leaving audiences unsure of where to look and whether they could look. Smiles, giddiness, shared smirks to reality biting. As the title suggests, he wanted to create a “jungle of desire”…I’m not sure it was directly desire, more like a conceptual art house bordello of Hong Kong. Let’s just say I will never look at a lucky cat the same way as their knocking arms were turned into penises…all of them, penises. I question whether it is an accessible and acceptable reinterpreted pornography of the everyday for the everyman.
“One day, your mother and your partner are trapped together in a burning forest. Your sense of morality compels you to save your mother first, and even your partner, while melting, calls to you gently, “Don’t worry, I am feeling a little hot. Save your mother!” At this moment, how desperately you wish that morality be damned; suppressing your own desires, you would exclaim to your mother, “You will wait!” And carrying your partner, you would burst through the forest without looking back. You think, if your mother is saved, you will continue paying the monthly family tribute. But if your partner is saved, and if the burns are not too serious, you will very soon resume your sex life. You think further, in a world without morals, you would not need to suppress your desire to not pay the family tribute. Would you still suppress desires for incest? Standing before the burning blaze, you know from deep inside, that neither of them deserves to be saved by you.” – Wong Ping
On the rooftop of the building was ‘Things‘ opening party…of course first night I’m in Hong Kong and I’m at a rooftop party…with bands ‘Teenage Riot’ and ‘My little airport’ and the who’s who of the art world in Hong Kong, so many friends and familiar faces there – so good to see you all – where I spent most of the evening talking to artist Yuk King Tan. Her work is currently on show in the exhibition ‘Gender, Genitor, Genitalia – Rokudenashiko Tribute’ at Woofer Ten 活化廳. Such great conversation about a plethora of (Hong Kong) topics. Blog post to come on that and again its a genitalia filled show. Hot topic right now in these contexts? Or merely place and time?