Wednesday, October 31, 2007


It has got real rain these days since I came back almost 2 months ago and I started to like it somehow. Maybe it's sad when we had "sunny" days, it also meant hazy and polluted.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Art auction

I went to Para/Site's fundraising auction last night, something potentially embarrassing if your work went unsold. It's this situation that it's only a small crowd but as far as there're 2 persons liking the same piece, it could be sold well. It seems something psychological too when people were not 100% sure about the work and other bidders would give endorsement.
I walked away when it was up to my piece. Luckly it was sold. And it was great for Para/Site and the amount raised was more than double of that last year.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

New podcast

I have just tried to create a podcast on arts in Hong Kong and beyond. Basically I hope to make a space which is "casual" enough to "seriously" talk about art as we always tend to wait for the serious moment before we would do anything serious. I invite people to chat on things happening at the moment (we can't wait too much!) I think the voice recording is somehow an alternative document to writing which is unfortunately not so popular in our community. The trial episode is in Cantonese and I have Jeff Leung with me to talk about October Contemporary as seen from outside.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Gallery in Fo Tan

Last Sunday the first gallery was inaugurated in Fo Tan, where artists have gathered for studio spaces since a few years ago. It's been common theory that galleries, shops and restaurants always follow artists in the west. And finally artists have to move out again because of high rent. The famous example is SoHo in New York. I'm not sure if the end of Fo Tan will be like this but first wonder if it would actually happen in the beginning too. I'm unsure if there will be more galleries opening here. Hanart got a space last year but it remains a warehouse after the open studio. The new Blue Lotus is operated as weekend gallery before customers or visitors would travel up here to see art during the week. Not even talking about the general mindset on contemporary art here, the preconception of distance of a lot of people in Hong Kong is super conservative. It's always the comfort zone for art from Wan Chai to Sheung Wan. Going beyond that can be "far away" for a lot of art hoppers, although it might be 20 more min in the MTR/KCR, that length of time has so often killed by all sorts of silly activities.

Anyway, there's a community in Fo Tan but not all the time invisible. While hoping things will be flourishing, there may be more substantial to have a place like cha chan tang (local cafe) where artists can have more chance to bump into each other. There are getting more "private" spaces for individuals and "open" space for public during the open studio events but that kind of communal space among artists are still missing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Just completed a new work as a donation to Para/Site. It's acrylic colour on canvas, an image of sky made by writing for thousands times the simplified Chinese characters 发格 (fage) that I found in Wikipedia as "fuck in Shanghainese". There will be a preview in Pacific Place III from today to Oct 29 but the venue management found the title too offensive and censored it. So, you will only see the painting with the clean title "Fage" there.
It's the first piece of a brand new series and has never been exhibited. Also not sure it will be exhibited again if it's sold!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Chung Yeung Festival is coming. The other day we did a family visit to my dad's grave. It's this typical room of multi-level niches for ashes in east Kowloon. Not far away from my dad's, I spotted this plaque on which was a photo of an old woman and a young man. What intrigued me was they were couple. The man was born in 1917 and died in 1949 (a life of histories!) The woman was born in 1926 and passed away in 2004. So, she was only 23 when he left at an age of 32. So she had been widow for another half a century, far much longer than the life of her husband. Then there's also their son, his ash right next to theirs. He was born in 1949 (when his dad died) and passed away in 1968 (year of turbulance too) at 19 only. These figures allow a lot of imagination and association. It seems difficult to think without consideration of a country's history. So, what happened in 2004....?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Contemporary, contemporary!

Went to the opening of the "International Contemporary Art Fair" here. Just curious what people would expect the meaning of "contemporary". Is it money-sexy? The same organizer did the "Art & Antiquity" fair not long ago which was regarded as "successful". Contemporary might be only understood as something now. So, these are the stuffs being sold and purchased in Hong Kong at the moment in that sense only.

To my surprise, the fine art department of the Chinese Uni took part in it as a vendor of art by students and alumi. Would it be an example how the academic institution embraces the market? When all these art fairs in Europe try to involve independent shows (with so called academic recognition) as endorsement by the star curators, we have our university art school taken over by the art fair. Anyway, I heard they sold well!

Monday, October 8, 2007

October Contemporary

Went to the opening in the Cattle Depot and then at Para/Site. The theme "Again" seems to be a bit vague to draw different shows together. Perhaps its flexibility appealed and allowed the organizer to hook up eight very different "independent" organization. Positively it amplified the small voice of each organization in front of the public that was predominated by all sorts of mainstream currents, but that also showed the limit of "independence" if the festival would go beyond that. The great turnout of the opening might demonstrate the possibility that individuals of this segregated community could get together. But I hope things could really evolve beyond that. I still very much appreciate the potential of grass root organizations in Hong Kong and if their cooperation can progress to collaboration which requires more engagement and understanding, definitely a more cohesive October Contemporary can be a very dynamic and interesting alternative to those institutional Asian biennales. We could simply forgot the controversy of the Hong Kong Biennial. But then some might ask if we need a truly international and carefully-curated multi-venue exhibition, but founded in this urban/local setting. Well, Hong Kong seems not to be very international, at least in terms of its indifference to what's happening in the neighboring countries.

The other day, I saw the sign of ParknShop containing the word "international"! I bet some of the street markets here are actually more international.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

With or without you

Para/Site's AGM was held last weekend and I officially retired from its board. Feeling good. At the same time, I finished a short contribution to a book on artist-run space published by YYZ Books in Toronto. Here I also attach my text:

Looking at the development of an artist-run space, after almost 12 years of involvement, I will sum up with a couple of words: change and let go.

Nowadays, the difference between institutions and organizations is getting smaller and smaller. Once the romantic structure of artists’ organization seems gone. What left behind is in name of professionalization. Artists need to be better organized, like it or not!

The most interesting part of an artist-run organization for me is its existence at different stages, transforming itself until the day when it is no longer regarded as artist-run. The process lasts variedly, from a couple of years to 10 or 15. Its survival deals with its changing environment. It can be so fluid that it may allow immediate failure or success. The opportunity cost can be very low in name of passions. After all, you see yourself growing along with the organization. This momentum may diminish when one cannot keep up with the other.

The infamous example is its core members (in most cases also the founders) are too busy with their own careers to progress the organization. The worst situation is the slow death of the organization which still absorbs certain amount of energy and resources because of its early glory, of those who sympathize.

To fold up or change the organization always stirs up controversy, as there are always people with different ideas. You just need to allow different possibilities and it is always interesting to explore the new. In this moment, you definitely sense the opportunity cost is getting higher. But then it’s time to give the organization a new life, with or without you.