No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia
Coming straight from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia brings a whole host of weird and wonderful works to Hong Kong’s Asia Society (Justice Drive , Admiralty). The varied collection of paintings, photos and sculptures is displayed in a huge stone explosives storage room used by the British Navy 150 years ago – reason enough to visit in itself.
The pride of the show is Tayeba Begum Lipi’s Love Bed, which at first glance comes across all shiny and nice. Upon closer inspection however we receive a stark summary of the beauty and bloodshed of Lipi’s birth country, Bangladesh, as we see this bed is made entirely out of stainless steel razor blades!
Also worth a little further explanation is Tuan Andrew Nguyen’s Enemy’s Enemy: Monument to a Monument, which makes a distinctly symbolic statement about how, just like religion, sport has the power to both unite and split communities. Nguyen binds the two together by carving a highly venerated Buddhist monk into a baseball bat, which was in turn was made by Hillerich & Bradsby, a company that provided the US Army with wood for rifles. This powerful piece leaves us with the lingering question, are the divisions within our society worth all the conflict?
We Can Start Over by Vivian Ho
There’s very few of us who haven’t enjoyed a cup of traditional milk tea from a ‘cha chaan teng’ or a freshly made meal in a roadside stall. But have you ever thought that such humble scenes could be the catalyst for great works of art? Having grown up in Hong Kong, emerging artist Vivian Ho gets her inspiration from the city’s common people and their lifestyles, highlighting the beauty of an ordinary life.
If you’re a true Hong Konger you’ll almost be able to smell the streets of Sheung Wan through Linger, with the paint, charcoal and ink background depicting everything from the local markets and the boutique shops to the colourful ad banners. Ho recreates the life of a local elderly housewife in the centre of the hustle and bustle, allowing her to be seen through an intensely romantic veil reminiscent of renowned Hong Kong film director Wong Kar-Wai.
Squint: Kinetic Light Installation by Kenny Wong
As much as this wall of 50 mirrors would be an ideal fit for any dressing room, the seemingly simple array of everyday accessory in Kenny Wong’s Squint Kinetic Light Installation is subtly absorbing. Wong’s spirited exploration of the nature of light really opens up the door to the imagination, as the sunlight bounces around Videotage in To Kwa Wan, flickering across the audience’s faces.
The exhibition is one of a particularly playful nature. In fact, the illuminated round mirrors are strangely evocative of Disney’s Pixar lamp, leaving us half expecting them to whirl their heads around as they come to life. Although the audio-visual accompaniment of sound artist Dennis Wong (aka Sin:Ned) is already over, the installation itself is definitely worth the trip to the ‘Dark Side’.