Friday, December 19, 2008

My name is Victoria

Messages from over 40 women named Victoria telling the story about their name, are compiled as a monologue voiced over the mundane scenes filmed during my journey walking along Victoria Road from Kennedy Town, the border of Victoria which was the capital of this former crown colony to Aberdeen where the British landed for the first time in Hong Kong.
Voice over by Jazz Shergill; music by Franze Schubert, performed by Seth Carlin.

Part 1 of 2


Part 2 of 2

Sunday, December 7, 2008

In the name of Victoria


In 1997, a small box with a postcard of Victoria Harbour was made in form and concept of a pinhole camera as my contribution to the collaborative project "Transaction" which was exhibited in both Melbourne and Hong Kong. Its title is From Victoria to Victoria.

Peak of Victoria, a photo sculpture featuring images of the shopping mall at Peak Victoria inside a cracked pyramid, was produced when Hong Kong had just been handed over to the People's Republic of China, farewell to a colony founded in the time of Queen Victoria.

Ten years later, a new video work titled My name is Victoria has been freshly made to continue contemplating this royal name, however in a mix of personal sentiments. Messages from over 40 women named Victoria telling the story about their name, are compiled as a monologue voicing over the mundane scenes filmed during my journey walking along Victoria Road from Kennedy Town, the border of the capital of this former crown colony to Aberdeen where the British landed for the first time.

Also new are two light boxes bearing the quotes of two most famous Victorias, Her Majesty and Mrs. Beckham: "I will be good" and "I'm still me even after all that's happened" respectively in the backdrop of close-up scenes of also two most famous in Hong Kong, namely the Peak and the Harbour. On the Plexiglas front of the light boxes, a barely visible word "VICTORIA" is etched.

In-between these works, I got a chance to visit the decommissioned Victoria Prison in 2006 and made a series of large format photographs of the empty old goal. I call this series Prison of Victoria.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Good read of Fo Tan

An article by Michael Lee on the Wah Luen Industrial Centre where tens of studios are located.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Make art no

Finally I managed to see the New Ink Art exhibition in the Hong Kong Museum of Art. I did enjoy a few pieces there such as those by old masters Ding Ying-yong and Luis Chan. Cai Guo-Qiang's explosive drawing was only a small piece. Perhaps it's difficult to borrow his master pieces for this exhibition which was regarded as international by the organizer. Obviously Cai's presence is an endorsement to be international.

Cai's work was categorized into the last section called "Is it Ink Art?" in which works made of materials beyond ink were included. The logic here apparently is that those work would be associated with conventional ink paintings or related interests. But then what is the sense of ink art if it's not confined by its medium? The term "ink art" actually reflects the good will of the curator to expand the realm of Chinese ink paintings but remains problematic as it asks us to identify the material but allows freedom to its form and approach. Then this last section tried to explore non-ink possibilities for "ink art". The whole foundation of this "new" concept of ink art suddenly falls apart as it's become paradoxical. As if an open question, the presentation actually referred to works that provoke a certain sense of Chineseness (traditional ink painting in particular) such that the curator can nationalized this universal medium. So on one hand everything goes but on the other side it doesn't.

I point to the sky and ask "is it ink art?"

One day I can make conceptual art without concept.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Search for Victoria

Dear friends,

I'm researching for a new project and some of you may be able to help out. Would you know any of your friends or anyone who:

1) was born as Victoria but now is called differently.
2) not born as Victoria but somehow adopted this name later.

I would greatly appreciate if you can let me know what happened to them and the reason of the name change; or introduce me to them and I could inquire it myself. All who provide information for this research can remain anonymous. Many thanks first and I'll update to you the progress of the project.

best regards,
Leung Chi Wo

Monday, September 22, 2008

Asian Cultural Council

Just got a request to help circulate the grant announcement. People of ACC are really helpful to their grantees.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

After Hours


After Hours was a 4-day-meeting co-organized by A.I.T. (Tokyo) and Samuso (Seoul) in parallel with Yokohama Triennale on New Institutionalism. Hu Fang spoke on the first day.

BizArt in Yokohama


Fancy shop space in Koganecho Bazzaar to replace the spot previously frequented by prostitutes.

Akasaka

Arrived in Yokohama on September 10 and had the evening free. Went with Hitomi to the opening of the Akasaka Art Flower 08 in an abandoned primary school. Curated by Kenji Kubota, it cost hugh amount of money to renovate the premises up to basic standard before they could put any art in it.

I met Tsuyoshi Ozawa three years ago and saw him again tonight. He made this kids' wonderland.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Podcast with Tobias Berger


Tobias Berger talks with Hong Kong art critic Jaspar Lau at the time bidding his farewell to Hong Kong after three and a half year as Executive Director of Para/Site Art Space. From September 2008, Berger will become the Chief Curator of the brand new Nam June Paik Art Center in Seoul. English, 60 min.
Remark: this is the second recording of the interview after a disastrous technical problem of the recorder. However, the technical problem repeated and a ten min-long sound clip was missing in the first quarter of this recording.
Listen

Monday, August 25, 2008

Podcast with Roger McDonald

Roger McDonald, Deputy Director and Co-founder of A.I.T. (Arts Initiative Tokyo), one of very rare curator-initiatives in Asia, talks about the founding of their organization in the context of contemporary art development in Japan. 47min. English
Listen

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Real or prop II



To my surprise, Kay also received the same letter of threat that I got last December. As she rarely opened her mail box, it's become a delay for 7 months. Just curious if there will be any other artist in this building who got this letter.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Why are artists poor?

Posted from Decentre book project:

Why are artists poor? is the title of a new book by Hans Abbing. You won't find simple answers in it but Abbing does a nice job of describing the intricacies of the art milieu and the many complicated reasons we keep on keeping on, e.g.:

Table 4.
Aspects Contributing to the Exceptional Nature of the Economy of the Arts

1. The valuation of art products tends to be asymmetric; one group looks up to the high art of the other group, while the latter looks down on the low art of the former. (Chapter 1)

2. In the arts: (1) the economy is denied; (2) it is profitable to be non-commercial; (3) commercial activities are veiled. (Chapter 2)

3. Art and artists have an exceptionally high status. (Chapter 1)

4. Artists overlook or deny their orientation towards rewards. (Chapter 4)

5. Top incomes in the arts are extremely high; higher than in other professions. (Chapter 5)

6. The large majority of artists earn less than other professionals do. Hourly income is low or even negative. In the modern welfare state, this is truly exceptional. (Chapter 5)

7. Despite these low incomes, an unusually high number of youngsters still want to become artists. The arts are extremely attractive. (Chapter 5)

8. Beginning artists face far more uncertainty than the average beginning professionals. (Chapter 5)

9. Money represents a constraint rather than a goal for many artists. (Chapter 4)

10. Artists are (more than others) intrinsically motivated. (Chapter 4)

11. Artists are (more than others) oriented towards non-monetary rewards. (Chapter 5)

12. Artists are (more than others) inclined to taking risks. (Chapter 5)

13. Artists are unusually ill-informed. (Chapter 5)

14. A combination of myths reproduces misinformation about the arts. (Chapter 5)

15. Artists more often come from well-to-do families than other professionals. (This is even more exceptional because usually the parents of ‘poor’ people are also poor.) (Chapter 6)

16. Poverty is built into the arts. Measures to relieve poverty do not work or are counterproductive. (Chapter 6)

17. The arts are characterized by an exceptional high degree of internal subsidization. By using non-artistic income artists make up the losses they incur in the arts. (Chapter 6)

18. The gift sphere in the arts is large; subsidies and donations comprise an unusually large portion of income. (Chapter 2 and 8)

19. Unlike other professions, the arts do not have a protected body of certified knowledge. Anybody can access it. (Chapter 11)

20. Unlike other professions, there is no formal control of numbers in the arts. Anybody can pursue an arts career regardless of their qualifications. (Chapter 11)

21. Many informal barriers exist in the arts. (Chapter 11)

Hans Abbing, WHY ARE ARTISTS POOR? THE EXCEPTIONAL ECONOMY OF THE ARTS (Amsterdam University Press)
ISBN 978-9-0535656-50-5
€ 25,90
http://www.aup.nl/do.php?a=show_visitor … 0535656505
--
Robert Labossiere, Managing Editor, YYZBOOKS

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Reality TV

Just done the 72 hour-workshops (actually 96 hours!), and felt excited and exhausted at the same time. It was so experimental that we always were not sure what would come next. Issues of anxiety and emotion there reminded me Survivors all the time. It's more than an art project.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Steal

leungchiwo.net now has become leungchiwo.com only because the .net domain has been cancelled, of course not at my own will. A month ago I got an expiration notice from my web host that the auto renewal of my domain registration was rejected. Immediately I fixed the payment method and and thought everything was fine then as I noticed they have been receiving my hosting fee. Then no more warning, I received a cancellation notice of my .net domain which said they couldn't help at all, After a few email inquiries, I only got the same answer. Being so frustrated, I followed a few links and found out who bought my domain. The evil is now the same web host can help me to negotiate buying back this domain at a commission plus service charge. So, you see this is how the domain business works. I don't think my .net would worth much. However, instead of buying it back, I decided to spend the money (and more time) to register another domain (.com) and to print new business cards. Maybe I'm silly but I feel better.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Para/Site Art Space seeks a new Executive Director / Curator

Para/Site Art Space is the leading non-profit contemporary art organization producing, exhibiting and communicating local and international contemporary art since 1996.It is located in Sheung Wan, close to the center of the city. Our main activities include presenting a programme of 10 exhibitions a year in our main exhibition space together with a variety of local and international venues outside of our space. To compliment our programme, seminars, talks and workshops are regularly organized. We also manage Para/Site Central, the smallest exhibition venue in Hong Kong, which is hosted by Hanart TZ Gallery. Para/Site Art Space was involved in various overseas exhibitions such as the Gwangju Biennale 2002 and the Venice Biennale 2003, Guangdong Triennial 2005 and organized Pearl River City – a touring show that traveled through Europe from 20006 – 2008 .Para/Site Art Space also hosts the Para/Site Art Space – Hong Kong Jockey Club Curatorial Training Programme.

Para/Site Art Space is run by the Executive Director/ Curator assisted by a curator and an office manager and governed by a Board of Directors. Apart from receiving support from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council as well as vital contributions from patrons and sponsors, our space also raises funds through an annual art auction.

A suitable candidate should have experience as a curator and a profound knowledge of international, especially Asian contemporary art and curatorial practice.

A potential candidate should have a clear vision to further develop Para/Site Art Space and the Hong Kong art scene in relation to the changing world of the contemporary art. The Executive Director is responsible for the daily operation, the planning and realization of the yearly program as well as budget planning. It is essential to liaise with the art community as well as the funding agencies and sponsors. Experience in publishing, drafting proposals, fundraising and book-keeping are essential.

The Executive Director is responsible to plan, lead and develop the Para/Site Art Space – Hong Kong Jockey Club Curatorial Training Programme.

Applications close 15th July 2008
Please apply via email including a CV and an application letter with your visions and goals for Para/Site Art Space to Tim Li, Chairman of the Board of Directors –
timli@para-site.org.hk.

For more information please contact Tim Li.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

charity

The recent disasters really hurt. We all look for some kinds of healing. Donation not only helps the people in need but also comforts the soul of the donors who witnessed the vulnerability of human beings. Just read an article by Qiu Zhijie on "why and what to donate?" as an artist. Very inspiring!
Tobias is organizing a fundraising auction for the disasters tonight. It's good while we feel the urge to help out in China, we don't forget Myanmar.

Art Auction for the victims of the Earthquake in China and the Myanmar Cyclone

Organised by Para-Site Art Space and 10 Chancery Lane Gallery
Friday 23 May at 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, 10 Chancery Lane, Soho, Hong Kong
Auction starts at 8pm sharp.
Art works and gifts donated by
Hanart TZ Gallery, Ooi Botos Gallery, Jean-Marc Decrop, Rossi & Rossi, SinSin Fine Art, 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, ShContemporary

also supported by:
Asia Art Archive
Burger Collection
Sovereign Art Foundation
Sotheby's

All proceeds will be donated to Medecins Sans Frontieres

Absentee Bids: Please contact Tobias Berger at tobias@para-site.org.hk or tel. +852 25174620

Monday, May 5, 2008

Podcast with Xu Zhen

Xu Zhen, artist, also Co-founder and Artistic Director of BizArt, Shanghai talks about his organization with reference to the development of contemporary art in China in the last ten years. Mandarin, 48 min. 藝術家徐震,上海比翼藝術中心的藝術總監,在十年中國當代藝術發展的語境中,談說他參與創辦的藝術空間。(普通話,48分鐘)
Listen

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

documenta 2012

Just found out Oscar Ho is a member of the selection committee of the next documenta artistic director. It should be a big thing for Hong Kong as there hasn't really been an artist from Hong Kong to exhibit in documenta. (Yan Lui who once lived in Hong Kong could almost be an exception.) At least, there is now a direct link to this mega exhibition from here besides holding the documenta magazine meeting in 2006.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Podcast with Mella Jaarsma


Cemeti Art House co-founder Mella Jaarsma talks about her art space and the art environment in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. It's the first episode of Work Space, a new series of interviews on art spaces in Asia. English. 32 min.
Listen

Monday, March 31, 2008

Finale

Just returned from Tokyo (where I went from Seoul) today and it marked the end my "Asia" tour -- 26 days on the road since the Chinese New Year to nine cities. Some of these cities I only went for the first time, like Yogyakarta and Saigon. I really feel lucky to have taken part in this Open Space project. Just trying to count from memory whom I have met (and had good chat): Mella, Davide, Wimo, Rock, Gentong, Angki, Ade, Reza, Indra, Chiao, Shun-chu, Mia, Yao, Henri, Fang, XuZheng, Cody, Arin, David Teh, Connelly, Tho, Chuong-Da, Marco, Michael, Hyunjin, Jinsuk, Sunjung, Hitomi, Kenji, Emil, Roger, Kai.... should be more than 32. Although travelling was exhausting, it's such a rare opportunity that I couldn't miss. It's intense but I also learnt a lot from them and these places. Big thanks.

Michael and me in a Korean pizza shop in Seoul, photo taken by Cody. Cody is an interesting artist who spent 23 years in America, who I met in his solo show opening in Beijing. Michael is a contributing curator of this year's Busan Biennale. When I met him, he's already several meetings after arrival on the same day.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What do you wish for the Asia's World City?

A growing list of wishes randomly made by anyone who is interested:
A beautiful, traditional Chinese Gardens like those in Suzhou
A better common sense on different things rather than just making money
A big central park like in NYC
A good outdoor music festival
A local art magazine with international perspective
A local movie magazine with international perspective
A more balanced governmental perspective not only focusing on economic growth but that can also see the value, which proactively supports a rich and diverse local cultural industry
A museum culture that's really inspiring but not this bureaucracy-minded shove.
A platform for researching, studying and exhibiting Asian cultures
A population reading good books, not just newspaper and magazines
A proper visual arts university
A public art gallery with a curatorial program to show the most cutting edge contemporary local and international work
A real national park with rangers preventing people from harming wildlife
A well equipped central library and laboratories for taking up research projects and lifelong education
A town square where people will gather and enjoy outdoor activities
Academic freedom
Accountable politicians

Active surrenderings (tribute to Jeanette Winterson)
Affordable housing for low-income people including artists, musicians, poets and martial artists, etc.
All the past, the present and the future visible in the city
An all female police force
An efficient, cheap and environment-friendly transport system
An end to civil servant run museums
An end to trailer fishing
An expressive environment
An independent public-funded Visual Arts Academy.
An interest in art
An ocean that we can swim in and air we can breathe
An opera house
Artificial nature
Artist in residency programs
Ban on all Styrofoam lunch boxes
Being a normal city
Better harbour protection
Better Mandarin language training
Bicycle lanes in the city
Big warehouse-type supermarkets
Career opportunities not only for painters but artists of all art forms
Cheaper Lychee Martinis
Clean air and unpolluted bodies of water
Clean and ecological toilet
Comprehensive social welfare system
Compulsory architecture courses for all real estate developers
Compulsory pay for plastic bags
Compulsory recycling programmes, particularly for glass
Conservation and preservation of historical sites, villages and farm fields
Control and regulation of the carbon emission from the Pearl River Delta
Cultural diversity
Culture

Curious minds
De-bureaucratization
Decent English bookshops
Decolonization
Democracy
Easier connections including cheaper flights to West and South Asia (India)
Easy access to the harbour which has to be enhanced
Education that encourages creative thinking - throughout primary and secondary level
English reinstated in schools as the common language of the world's business
Free from the Chinese Government's control
Free of MSG and promotion of organic food
Free university education
Good bands
Good Chinese newspaper
Good literary skills
Good museum bookshop
Grants for artist and curators from and to all over the world
Greater environmental consciousness
Green parks and open public spaces for dogs and children
Grit
Hakka museum
Heritage management model
Hong Kong New New Wave Cinema
International art biennial
International contemporary-only visual art fair
Investment in capital projects that build the infrastructure for technology development instead of Disneyland, only a theme park of very low service industries.
Jealousy free zones
Keeping the judicial system strong and just.
Legislation on “fair trade”, sex education and human rights issues
Less administrative-driven policies in different kinds and levels of institutions
Less construction and less digging of cables on the streets
Less gossip magazines
Less inflated housing/rental cost.
Less internet/media control and self-censorship
Less mobile phone talk in public places
Less slogans
Lively street cultures
Local collectors for Hong Kong art
Lots and lots of benches, everywhere, without partitions
Low costs round trip flights to and from Hong Kong
Maintaining low crime rate with better-paid policemen who are not prone to corruption
Mature and intelligent public administrators/politicians
Media of better quality
Minimalist government (just doing what essential)
Minimum wage
Mobile hot dog booths
More cinemas showing art house films
More curators
More education on not dumping clothes every season
More English: a Master of Fine Arts program in Writing at the universities
More funds for liberal arts education
More international news in local newspapers
More local contemporary artists' works shown
More Mexican restaurants
More of a place where is adequate time for history and memory, rather than a site for transients.
More professional and international standard film stars and singers
More programs for students to travel abroad to widen their horizons
More progressive experimental art making than profit-driven art practice
More public spaces
More respect for others’ privacy
More schools that promote creative and lateral thinking
More statistic and research for arts/social aspects
More types of curators
More vegetarian restaurants (for Buddhism and Hinduism are major philosophical /religious traditions in Asia).
Muffed but glowing mornings
Multiculturalism that can transcend racism
Museum of contemporary art
No calling ourselves 'cultural wasteland'
No discrimination against people from South East Asia or anyone whose skin is darker than Chinese
No earning money for earning more money
No gossips and rumors that some simply use as a sport to discredit honorable individuals
No more art with stupid Chinese laughing faces
No more big white elephants
No more East-meet-West cliché
No more high rises especially in already congested areas
No more highways and shopping malls
No more signs telling us what to do such as "this park is NON SMOKING!"
No more TV soap operas
No nationality as majority
No one pushing each other while walking on the street
Not only functional but stylish public facilities
Open and free minds
Pensions for the elderly to really live on
People-oriented development (of places)
Permanent and lively Stanley market
Polite taxi drivers
Political action on environmental protection
Promoting a culture of philanthropy especially to support the arts
Proper waste disposal into our waters to save our marine life
Public space that really allows people to interact
Quality art exhibitions
Quality gigs on the streets
Quality healthcare for all and paying government medical practitioners competitive salaries so they remain to serve the public
Quality museums
Rational debate
Real home-ownership
Real lawn for people to sit on
Rebuilding old architectures just like the ones in the good old days
Recycling construction materials
Requiring planting more trees in all new property developments and their surrounding
Respect and space for animals and plants
Revolutionists (in different aspects)
Rich arts and culture
Saving electricity at night
Self-criticism
Self-discipline
Sidewalk cafes
Simpler admission procedures for would-be migrants
Slow living
Smart and attractive architectural and urban design, particularly on waterfronts
Snow
Social and personal responsibilities to the elderly and children
Speaking foreign languages
Stronger protests
Sunsets in the east
Sustained funding of cultural bodies
Taxi drivers able to understand tourists in English
The Clock Tower

True blue sky
Universal suffrage
University admittance for all pass grades
Values that are less money-oriented
Wet markets permanent in Central
Working hard playing hard
World-class galleries
Yin-Yan' instead of 'Starbuck'

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Warning!!!

Recently there are all these spams as comments left in my blog. Before I learn how to delete them, just don't click into any hyperlink if you're not sure about the source.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wishes for Asia's World City

Dear friends,

I'm working on a new project about propaganda of the "Asia's World City" for which I need to compile a "wish" and "wish not" list for Hong Kong as reference. I hope you could contribute your ideas of what makes the "Asia's World City" and what not. Then I will draft a list of what all of you think Hong Kong deserves to have but not really yet got it. Here I put a couple of mine to start it off:

democracy
museum of contemporary art
free university education

Please help out to make this list longer. It will be interesting to see the result of this list after so many of you take part or make it. Simply send me a couple of "wishes" by email. All contributors will remain anonymous.

I look forward to your reply soon.

best regards,
Warren


____________________
Leung Chi Wo
http://www.leungchiwo.net

Borobudur


Got up at 4am to go to visit Borobudur, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Very impressive indeed and really worth sleeping a bit less.

I met these students who started conversation with me as part of their exam of their English course.

Dadou in Jogia

I had a very nice chat with Davide “Dadou” Quadrio of BizArt before he returned to Shanghai after a meeting with colleagues from Singapore, Manila and here Jogia. They have started a collaboration on a project with young curators in the region. Sometimes I really feel we might progressing in a similar direction as there’re more social/economic exchanges in Asia as in different places there’re drives for development of curatorial practice as Para/Site has implemented its curatorial programme.
It’s almost become a usual topic about the art market boom in Asia and the up-roaring price of contemporary Chinese art recently when you talk to anyone from the art community in Asia. Our conversation is no exception. Of course it also touched the idea of independent art organizations. In China’s context, an “non-profit” art space could also represent artists in art fairs. Somehow Dadou was proud that he didn’t do. Not that he had problem with commercial gallery practice, he’s bothered by the fact that you’re doing it but claiming something else.
By the end of the meeting, there’s also Daphne who once worked in the New Museum in New York but now lives in Shanghai and works with Dadou. Small world it is; she’s also from De Appel and her study here was partly due to Tobias’ advice!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Cemeti Art House


Cemeti Art House is located in a very nice premise, the second one that they moved in about 10 years ago. It’s very spacious and bright. Just so open that it merges inside and outside, like most houses here in Jogia. At the moment when I got there, they are packing the exhibits after the show of a Dutch resident artist.

Nice hotel

Arrived in Jogia on Friday at 8am, a little rain as backdrop it gave me an impress as a tropical garden. Indeed on my way to the hotel, there’re always rows of small houses, normally of one storey only. Mella booked me in a hotel of very inexpensive rate. To my surprise, it could be really one of the best I ever have stayed. I got a nice room facing the garden, full of trees and plants. There was also even a waterfall as a feature linked to the swimming pool. As it’s early, I had a nice power nap before I met anyone.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Asian Tour

Just embarked a tour to different cities in Asia, something I'd always like but not manage to do so. Last night I arrived in Jakarta at 7:30pm, too late to visit the people of Ruang Rupa. I simply stayed quiet in the hotel to wait for the early morning connecting flight to Yogyakarta (Jogya as commonly called). Not yet having seen the city of Jakarta, I saw it's infamous traffic jam from my window of the hotel which located somewhere between the airport and the city.

My first meal in Jakarta

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Museum

Just attended a talk on the future museum in Hong Kong. As expected, it somehow acted as promotion for an university course and there's nothing new as I have known everybody on the panel. (However T made a cool speech.) I did treasure such an occasion when people in the community could sit down and talk. Still it's good to voice out more before the decision maker would listen.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Podcast with Lee Kit


A chat with Hong Kong artist Lee Kit who has recently completed a one month-residency in Wellington of New Zealand, hosted by the Enjoy Public Art Gallery. Lee talks about his project and experience in Wellington and compares its art scene with that in Hong Kong. Cantonese, 41 min.
Listen
Lee Kit's blog

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Post-realism


I have met a very interesting artist the other day. He's 張北如(Cheung Pak Yu), truly a great master of crafts. He showed me a few playful works from his pocket, some melon seeds made of clay. It's super realistic. Or, you just thought real even holding them in your hand. The only slight difference would be that you felt them a little bit cooler than room temperature because of the ceramic nature. He said somehow it's not all about realism as he didn't modelled them after some real seeds. It's only the observation of many and he created the unique pieces. It can be most abstract.
It's our luck to have him (living for many many years) in Hong Kong. Perhaps there isn't another He in mainland China.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Contemporary China I

Last weekend I attended a seminar on contemporary photography in China as a respondent to three writer/artists' presentations. The first made use the skyscraper as a metaphor for urban development in China. It was an interesting approach and informative. I raised the gender issue for the masculine symbol and almost only male artists featured in the presentation. The speaker somehow admitted it as a matter of fact in China's art scene and he simply couldn't come across many female artists who deal with the subject.
Yes, we all know about that in China as very few female artists have been featured in important Chinese art show. I was just curious if the speaker noticed any reason behind. The artist from Shenzhen who was also on the panel voiced out his opinion: "I don't care if the artist is a man or woman but only if it's good or bad art!" Well, I agree with it if we only look at individual artwork regardless any interest derived from gender differences. However, it's not only an artistic issue. It's about the society, without this knowledge, it will be so difficult to appreciate the arts from it. Looking at all this so called urban photography, I just wonder while many Chinese artists address the contemporary Chinese society with their art, why they could be so selectively concerned with the society. It seemed that I just raised something which was nothing important to them.
Maybe I am too naive to ask the rich why people starve as he only cares if the food is delicious or not!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Fo Tan Open Studio

I saw part of the Open Studio last weekend. Quite a lot of people were there. It's a good art education for the society. But to be honest, there was less excitement for me this time than before. Maybe my curiosity has been fulfilled, or there were not many new or exciting things to see. Anyway, it's good to have it to demonstrate to the society there is a growing artists' community.
Friends asked me why I didn't open my studio. If people want to see my work, they can see it in the current HKSZ biennale. I'm not very much into just showing my space to people whom I'm not familiar. There could be difficulties too. I remember one time there were tons of kids running in my studio, something I could hardly control. Maybe it's not something nice when you had someone walking into your studio showing no interest in your work at all! It might be easier if it's simply a gallery as you had no expectation on your audience who could be critical anyway. (Who cares?) But it's your own space, sort of intimate; people there somehow become your guests, whom you may deal with respect.
I think I just missed the earlier Fo Tan open studio when there's no sponsors, no programmes or structure. It was so organic that a lot of studios just happen to open the doors on the same day. You didn't need to spend much to organize it. The whole event was minimal. Things could happen in short notice. Maybe it's my romanticism but I found pity that it missed the chance to grow beyond the institutional culture. It could be a truly simple and independent event. Indeed I have no problem with the institution (while you can name good or bad institutions). Para/Site is developed in such a direction. I would just love to see what would the Fo Tan community evolve with the energy and resources from the inside.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

HKSZ Biennale - withdrawal/return

In the last couple of days, my decision to withdraw from the Biennale Gallery of the Hong Kong Shenzhen Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism/ Architecture has raised concerns of friends in the arts community on the issue of artists' rights in front of authorities or institutions. I had some correspondence with the exhibition curators and artists, and today I decided to take part in it again upon request by the curators for the following reasons:

1. My action to withdraw from the Biennale was totally a protest against the Biennale organizer which I thought took advantage from the individual artists and participants. I did not mean to create any damage and trouble to any individuals involved in it. But since I announced my withdrawal, I have sensed an uneasy situation faced by some Biennale curatorial team members personally, which was not what I intended.

2. All participating artists in the Biennale Gallery are now offered certain support and financial aid by the organizer.

3. Another Hong Kong artist who also withdrew from the exhibition for lacking support from the organizer at earlier stage has been invited to take part again with funding to install his exhibits.

While I truly appreciate the individual efforts in the last few days trying to improve the situation and to make things happen, I restate my protest against the Biennale institution for it created a hierarchy of exhibitors separating the "main exhibitors" from the "parallel exhibitors" (including the Biennale Gallery artists) whom are still left out in the official catalogue.

Although there is growing public expenditure and private sponsorship in the arts (mainly in high profile-events and development), disregard to professional artistic practice and artists' rights is still ubiquitous in our society which is unexceptionally and unfortunately reflected in this Biennale. I hope not to confuse anyone with my actions as negotiation with one particular party for more advantage. Instead, I only tried to voice out my observation and thought to hopefully attract more attention to this unfair mind set.