Scene&Seen: Island Hopping at SPRING Workshop’s Biggest Group Show To Date, Curated by Para Site

I distinctly remember that it was a Saturday September 27th 2014, the day before the start of the big full blown Occupy Hong Kong protests near the Government centre in Admiralty district, which was actually already building up amongst the city’s college youth the week before, and isolated within those campuses before that big weekend. The mood at Spring Workshop that Saturday was generally optimistic with a sense of accomplishment among the participating artists in the group show, but not too over-joyous, as there was a real sense of trepidation due to the impending protests and sit-ins which filled the news that evening.

The show Spring Workshop launched that night, is their biggest group exhibition to date. Titled Islands Off The Shores Of Asia, the exhibit was curated by Para Site’s director, Cosmin Costinas and his partner and frequent collaborator, Inti Guerrero. The nature of the show’s subject matter, the concept of national identity as it relates to the clusters of contested islands in East Asia, and how everyone is connected to China, is unavoidably… political in nature. That said, hosting artists in a non-profit space and having a dialogue about art makes the show automatically political in nature. I just felt that there was a sense of perfect alignment, the way Hong Kong (a physical and ideological island within China) was about to take its first step towards a literal defining and identity making moment in its history, and here we were at Spring with works on display by 12 of the region’s brightest artists from various time periods, all discussing the same thing, that the act of building a national identity is dependant on what goes on beyond one’s own island. 

There’s a few work’s i’d love highlight, mainly (AGAIN) the work of performance artist, Ming Wong (in collaboration with Thomas Tsang / Dehow Projects.) For more on Wong’s installation you can click on my blog post from last week. The Singapore and Berlin based performance artist is seen here below on film exploring a possible confrontation with something new with his work titled, “Windows on the World 世界之窗 (2014)”.

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Another great piece, is a part of a bigger mixed-media installation which MAP Office will be unveiling in New York City with the Museum of Modern Art (next year?). 

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This elegant series of 8 vertical digital and pen panels titled, “Hong Kong is Land (2014)”, also works with sci-fi and narrative elements (it was placed adjacent to Ming Wong’s piece), but guised as a very detailed and in-depth cartographic documentation of Hong Kong’s dystopian future.

Photographs by Singaporean, Charles Lim, of every single sea buoy between Singapore and Hong Kong, line the middle area of the whole exhibit. 

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Each buoy is taken from two perspectives, one from Hong Kong and the other from Singapore. In his exhibit, there are two larger maps, exhibiting Singapore as an isolated island, and the negative space created when Singapore is deleted from the map. These works were placed next to a marine radio, where presumably we can only hear who is on the other end, but not communicate in return(???).

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A timely piece is Pak Sheung Cheun’s “Put ‘Hong Kong’ at the Center of Hong Kong (2004)”, a stainless steel sculpture of Hong Kong Island that was buried in the city’s geographical center. Cheung’s work is in response to the territory’s uncertain political future.

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Illustrative work was also a major presence in the show, like those of Howie Tsui’s dual wall murals, one in paint and acrylic and the other in smoke.  His “Retainers of Anarchy (Taohua Island) 2014” - above - and “Spectral Residue (2014)” -below- infuse pop culture and iconographic images in typically stylistic visual language to convey a sense of fear and horror within today’s context.

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Other illustrative works are visible in the 2006 manga interpretation of a 1929 novel by Takiji Kobayashi, titled Kanikosen. These drawings were placed on the entrance wall, which can be seen immediately after a reproduction of a Hokusai print, showing turbulent waves hitting rocking shores. Video work by James T. Hong, Julieta Randa, and Rosa Barba displayed largely on several surfaces in the exhibition, all touch upon memory, regret, and loss within a certain perceived territory.

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Love this work by titled “The Ocean (2014)” by Alvaro Barrios at the entrance/exit.

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Slightly better than this piece by him titled “The Sea of the Malvinas (2013)” about The Falklands.

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Here we see below Spring Workshop’s founder Mimi Brown with the super friendly and talented, Ming Wong. (Thanks for the invite, Mimi!)

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We congratulate and chat with the brains behind, MAP Office, Valerie Portefaix, plus meeting for the first time, talented architect partners, Charlotte Lafont Hugo and Gilles Vanderstocken, partners at BEAU Architecture who aided MAP Office with this particular series of works. Also accompanying me to the show, my buddy Jason.

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We said hi quickly to the wonderful, Inti Guerrero, curator of the exhibition.

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Nice to catch up again with SCAD HK’s Head of Interior Design Department, Cotter Christian, with his partner, Josh.

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One last piece to show off… this work by James Hong (which happened the next day.) Where supporters and fans were able to explore Hong Kong’s islands and playfully lay claim to them using one of several flags.

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VISIT Islands Off The Shores Of Asia Exhibition . Ends Dec 7, 2014 . Free Admission . Spring 3F Remex Centre, 42 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong . T: +852-21104370 / VISIT Para Site Art Space 

JJ.

Ming Wong’s Latest Sci-Fi Extravaganza

I actually have a larger blog post coming up about Spring Workshop & Para Site Art Space’s newest and biggest group show which opened last weekend, titled Islands Off the Shores of Asia. This amazing show, is a rare treat for Hong Kong, and according to Spring’s founder, Mimi Brown, is their biggest endeavor, working with the largest number of artists Spring has ever put on. The show is curated by Para Site’s Director, Cosmin Costinas and Inti Guerrero, Associate Artistic Director-Curator of TEOR/etica, Costa Rica.

Before I get any further (which I will do in a later post about the show opening), I’d like to immediately upload these images we have just received from one of the artists participating in the exhibition. We thank the artist, Spring Workshop, and Para Site for letting us repost these images to you all of Singaporean / Berlin performance artist, Ming Wong’s sci-fi installation within the group show, titled Windows on the World 世界之窗 (2014), where he is dressed up as a heroine-cosmonaut exploring deep space.

Thematically, Islands Off the Shores of Asia, is looking at the current ideological turn towards nationalism and confrontation within the region… specifically the small uninhabited islands which are invisible on maps, but are now the object of territorial claims by every single nation in East Asia (and Southeast Asia, actually.) It’s within this thematic line in which Ming Wong (who usually works and prefers working in a dirt cheap budget… which he takes pride in) extracts inspiration from Tarkovsky’s Solaris  (1972), to formulate a cinematic experience of exploration and plot creation reflecting whatever is left of Chinese nation-building as it is tied to the conquering of land (and resources) at the edge of its perceived boundary.

This work is made possible in part by collaboration with Thomas Tsang of Dehow Projects.

More about this group show to come.

VISIT Ming Wong at Islands Off The Shores of Asia, a show by Spring Workshop and Para Site . Spring, 3F Remex Centre, 42 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong . T: +852-21104370 . TUE-SUN 12-6PM . Free Admission / ARTIST Ming Wong

JJ.

#ArtBaselHK14: Notes on Vernissage and the Absolut Art Bar

Art Basel’s 2nd annual showing in Hong Kong was on fire last week and started off explosively at Wednesday’s Vernissage. In comparison to the previous year most of the guesswork is now out of the way, in regards to what to sell to this Asian market within this context. I will expand on this in later posts, but for the most part, everyone was aligned with selling “fair friendly” 2D work… and they were very “new” concept as well. But first, I just wanted to quickly post some of my favorite photographs from this year’s first evening Vernissage preview and the concurrent after-party hosted by Hong Kong’s foremost tailors, Alex Daye and Ellis Kreuger of Moustache, at the Absolut Art Bar designed by darling artist, Nadim Abbas.

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Starting from the top, some of the works which stood out that first night is the gimmicky piece by artist, Ciprian Muresan via Galeria Plan B, a chipboard to-scale model of a complete city which you can step on and destroy within the Discoveries Sector. As an architect who has had to build chip-board models like these from scratch and by hand, let me tell you, it was all very frightening. By the fourth day of seeing the progress of the work, one has to wonder what’s transcendental about the piece beyond what it is. 

Architect and artist, Laurent Gutierrez, one-half of the team that makes up MAP Office, which exhibited heavily care of the Shanghai Gallery of Art, introduced the duo’s latest works… a set of mini-islands built of shells encased in glass boxes. Their works deal with perceived and choreographed territories, with studies in various media from sculpture, to photography, to painting, of which at Art Basel, it was all represented.

We also got to meet performance artist, Tolarno Galleries’ Anastasia Klose, from Melbourne, who was selling shirts via her work, One Stop Knock-Off Shop, at 400HKD a pop. The best shirt of the bunch 'Art Blase' was sold out even before the Vernissage opened for business. Apparently someone bought them all for the staff and friends of Art Basel. Her gallery allowed her to set up a stand where she worked everyday to push her “art”. Her reasoning for selling these cheeky shirts… she’s “got to make money” somehow. Art for the masses yo! I got art a shirt at the last day marked down to 300hkd!

We spotted ParaSite Art Space’s Executive Curator and Director, Cosmin Costinas, giving a special tour to a group of collectors in front of the fabulous Sun Xun exhibition at Encounters Hall 1.

The biggest highlight post-Basel Vernissage of course would have to be the after party, set in Nadim Abbas’ work, Apocalypse Postponed, the name for this year’s Absolut Art Bar. That evening we were all treated to the smooth and powerful rock and roll sounds of The Belfies, a new band featuring the vocals of local style icon, Diana D’Arenberg Paramand, and the guitar stylings of Sean Fitzpatrick. There was a completely awesome yet whacked out performance artwork of one Ming Wong, who dressed up as some kind of robotic Harajuku doll… and danced like one as well.  All the drinks were co-prepared using Nadim Abbas’ “apocalyptic concept” and combined with Absolut vodka as the key ingredient.

A gallerist from Moscow.

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An “impactful” piece by Patricia Piccinini, titled The Comforter 2010 via Tolarno Galleries.

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"Into the Blue" with jeweller Sasha and Mina.

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A couple of wallflowers.

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Friends… Roger, Jo, and Norbyah.

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More to notes to come.

VISIT Art Basel 

JJ.

#ArtBaselHK14: Hong Kong Sex Tours via Para Site

During this year’s Art BaselPara Site, Hong Kong’s leading contemporary art space, will be launching its latest exhibition, Ten Million Rooms of Yearning. Sex in Hong Kong via 5 venues throughout the city.

The show features a broad spectrum of international and local artists and focuses on the relationship between sex and desire in the context of Hong Kong society and history. (More before, less so now?)

Conceived by Para Site’s Director, Cosmin Costinas, and Chantal Wong, Head of Strategy & Special Projects at AAA Asia Art Archive, this innovative show explores the many ways in which sex and desire are manifested, hidden, altered, and replaced by family structures, class, and other elements of contemporary Hong Kong life.

While the exhibition starts from a Hong Kong perspective, it goes well beyond to express a wider Asian and universal condition in contemporary life. Seminal works can be found in the exhibition from international artists Cao Fei, Ines Doujak, Richard Fung, Hou Chun-Ming, William E. Jones, Yayoi Kusama, Nguyen Tan Hoang, Hélio Oiticica, Willem de Rooij, Roee Rosen, Hito Steyerl, Danh Vo and William Yang; historic Hong Kong figures such as Luis Chan, Eileen Chang, Irene Chou, Chu Hing Wah, Hon Chi-fun, Ma Jir-Bo, Antonio Mak, and Ricky Yeung Sau-churk; contemporary local and regional artists Au Shek-yan, Chien-Chi Chang, Choy Ka Fai + Rianto, Eisa Jocson, Meiro Koizumi, Agung Kurniawan, Lee Kit, Lam Hoi-sin, Isaac Leung, Nguan, Erkka Nissinen, Angela Su, Wong Wai-yim, Trevor Yeung, and Zhou Tao; and Hong Kong academics and artists Petula Ho Sik-ying, Katrien Jacobs, and Yau Ching are also featured.

Should be hot.

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Images Above via Para Site’s Facebook Page.

VISIT Ten Million Rooms of Yearning. Sex in Hong Kong . Starting 2014 MAY 09 . Para Site, GF, 4 Po Yan Street, Sheung Wan . For the Four Other Venues, please click here.

JJ.

Para/Site Moves Up With 2012 Art Auction

It’s Fall at the end of the year, and you know what that means… Art Auctions. Yes, we attended the Annual Para/Site Art Auction this year located at Lane Crawford’s very cool One Island South company digs and was hosted by Board of Directors, William Lim of CL3, Yana Peel, Executive Director/Curator, Cosmin Costinas, with live auctioneer, Jehan Chu of Chaiwanese. 

Cosmin and Jehan below. 

It was really interesting to attend this particular auction, especially because i’ve been going to Para/Site auctions ran by Jehan for so many years now. I still remember when the auctions were small and held at the KEE Club back in the day. And now it’s a full dinner affair with friends and supporters. Very neat to see how far Para/Site Art Space and its programs have evolved over the years.

Ignacio checks out works on display for Silent Auction.

Some of my favorite pieces include this abstracted architectural topography by Joao Vasco Paiva, titled High Tide (2012) which sold at live auction for 42K HKD. The work was graciously donated by the artist and Saamlung Gallery.

This metallic skateboard by Olafur Eliasson, Your Mercury Ocean (2009), was donated by Vitamin Creative Space, and sold for 100K HKD.

I really liked Lot 62, a selection of prints by Sunjung Kim, Anton Vidokle, and Nikolaus Hirsch.

This one I liked, a DVD by Ming Wong, called Honeymoon In The Third Space (1999).

A good seller, Heman Chong’s, muted geometric composition from Never Let Me Go (2011), caught my eye. This painting on canvas sold well at 50K, and is a donation from Vitamin Creative Space.

Are you cool on your island? I absolutely loved this work by MAP Office, titled Honeymoon Island (2011), which I hope found a great home via silent auction.

This print, Cheng Ran’s Still of an Unknown Film (2008), sold at 60+K HKD, and a donation by the artist.

And there was no way I can do a post about Hong Kong art, without a work by my favorite artist, Nadim Abbas. This piece, Chernobyl_Core.gif (2012), is a print donated by Abbas and Saamlung Gallery.

The work of emerging artist, Trevor Yeung drew plenty of fans. Here G.O.D.’s Benjamin Lau and Alan Lau admire Yeung’s work, Sleepy bed (Sao Paulo Hostel 1) (2012). Yeung photographs subjects, usually male, all around the world, and turns them into multi-layered compositions which involve the photographic image as well as an overlay of illustration.

Next to the work, Lot 30, is a piece by Antony Gormley. Body XI (2011), was the biggest seller of the night and sold at 160K HKD by an absentee bidder. The work was donated by the artist, and Vitamin Creative Space.

In attendance was artist, Adrian Wong, and Xue Tan. Adrian was actually working on the composition for his Fall 2012 Saamlung show with his rabbit. Dont Ask.

We also spotted Alex Seno and Lane Crawford’s Eliot Sandiford. Thanks Alex for the invite!

Great to finally meet Claudia Albertini of Platform China.

The room was full of super couples as well. There’s no art shindig without the following… Tangram’s Igancio and Paola who will soon be unveilinga new collection in December. Here they are channeling the work of Chow Chun Fai, aptly titled Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera (2011), which sold at live auction for 75K HKD. Perfect.

Supercouple #2, FIOL Prosecco addict Pietro and Whitney of the Gagosian Hong Kong. 

Supercouple #3, Tim and Marc, here standing next to Yuk King Tan’s The Mandate of Heaven (2011). Love.

Supercouple #4, cool peeps Michelle and her husband, Varun. Great to see them here.

Twitter Supercouple Bonus, my gal, artist Yuk King in Tangram. Hello Yuk!

The tables at the canteen.

Whitney’s favorite works.

Pals on my table, Benjamin and Alan. Nice to meet you both!

Para/Site IS Hong Kong’s leading contemporary art space, the oldest, and most active. They exhibit, they publicize, they create discourse, and you wouldn’t think that based on their tiny space in Sheung Wan, that they are paving the way for many emerging artists. The point is, they’re moving spaces and adding curators, and they’re thinking big. Check out the works that were at auction here.

That said if you missed out on the Para/Site auction, but would still love to purchase work as well as contribute to a good cause, the Asia Art Archive Annual Fundraiser site is now up, and you can actually bid on your favorite work online. Yes. Contemporary Art at your fingertips. Many of whom had works that sold well at the Para/Site Auction. Good luck!

ART Para/Site

JJ.

Para/Site’s Cosmin Costinas Curates First Show, Two Thousand Eleven

Above: Heman Chong, Monument to the people we’ve conveniently forgotten (I hate you), 2008, Offset prints on 260 gsm paper, 1 million copies, each measuring 9 by 5.5 cm, 2008, Courtesy of Vitamin Creative Space, Motive Gallery and STPI 

Para/Site presents Two Thousand Eleven, a group exhibition of works by Olga Chernysheva, Heman Chong, Federico Herrero, and John Smith, in an inaugural exhibition curated by the gallery’s new Executive Director/Curator Cosmin Costinas. According to the gallery, Two Thousand Eleven is a reflection on this momentous year, which was marked by a succession of historical events, setting the stage for the future in innumerable ways. This small-scale exhibition does not document the events of this year nor does it aim to predict the next ones, it rather sets to confront the deep and rapid changes brought to our culture by the historic developments.

Making this modest commentary on the state of the world from the context of Hong Kong carries particular implications. Whereas the full impact of this year is yet to manifest itself in the city and its surrounding region, the geopolitical outcomes of the Western centric order’s fading power and the impact on the position of China and Hong Kong in the world are beginning to mark the debates in the city’s fragile public space.

Aint that the truth.

In other news. As I’ve stated on twitter today, I have no regrets about 2011. In fact. 2011 has by far been one of the best years for me. Definitely nothing to complain about. My only wish for 2012 is to keep the momentum growing, and to continue eyeing the continued cultural development within Asia, as Cosmin has pointed out. What do you think? Did you have a great 2011? (You can continue this discussion on Twitter, remember to tag me @theWanderlister and add #2011regrets and/or #MyGoalfor2012, both of which are trending in the top 10 globally today.)

PS. Lets toast to the past year together. See you at Para/Site on Friday night.

Two Thousand Eleven / Para-Site Art Space GF, 4 Po Yan Street Sheung Wan Hong Kong /17 DEC 2011 - 4 MAR 2012 / Opening: 16 DEC 2011, 19.00–21.00 / www.para-site.org.hk

xJJ

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