A well-thought-of idea always begins with a calling, then roots upon solid research efforts. Like planning a trip, keen travellers will do thorough research for the best-fit itinerary. Their purposes are different – some for leisure, some an adventure, some a routine; however, one thing in common is that they arrive at the border gate to begin their journeys.
This summer, a group of Master of Visual Art (MVA) students having completed 2 years’ soul-searching and researching, gather at a place where a liftoff party is held before each of them takes off. And as the exhibition theme suggests, this place is the moon.
Zen’s “finger pointing to the moon” is borrowed to entitle the exhibition “Pointing to the Moon” (read more here). Yet I believe the moon is not a destination; it is a transit because the vast universe of visual art is always here for them to explore.
From their journey to the moon, each of them had his/her own calling and thus different research was done. I’m particularly into the dissertations by Art Administration concentration (AA) in a visual art exhibition. If “a picture saves a thousand words”, I would say the picture had better be grounded on thousands words of research study. Meanwhile, some works from either Experience Design or Studio Art and Extended Media are found juxtaposing some research topics.
Make meaning for history & deceased
Edmund Mok studied how trauma-based museums approach memory and history that related to their social influences. In the fine line of subjectivity between history and memory, message delivered and message received, the museum plays a role in meaning-making, archiving and education. He picked Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, Jewish Museum Berlin and Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles to study each curatorial approach and presentation strategy. In his paper, he reached a recommendation of strategies and directions for Hong Kong’s June Fourth Memorial Museum. Regardless of its ephemeral status, Edmund has taken the museum seriously merely because the incident would not be forgotten by people. However, a few pages didn’t satisfy my appetite. I hope more discussions and suggestions to the museum would be built on, consolidated and actualised for generations.
The work that speaks to Edmund’s topic is Fonny Lau’s Memory Capsule. It is a memorial work with somebody’s ash glaze. The purpose is to extend connection from the deceased and let memory relive, like a memorial museum.
Active aging with ink art and mahjong
Amy Chan’s research topic span off from a Korean movie, Poetry (2010) about a granny attending a poetry class. Movies always ignite inspirations; do we let the spark diminish or glow? Amy did the latter. She met and befriended a group of elders in a Chinese ink art class to study active aging and sense of community. I have taken ink art class for few years and get used to classmates who are richer in life experience than me. From my observation without much in-depth research, they form a bonding and share a common language. They come to learn Chinese culture, to find a hobby, to buy painting tools and go exhibition together, to kill time. Whether such classes incubate art lovers or friendship or both, Amy’s research may give you the answer for her particular case.
I found Ka-kei Chan’s Mahjong of new tile patterns interestingly echo the topic. Would a game of mahjong achieve the same purpose of “sense of community” as ink art class does among elderly? My bonding with my late grandmother was found over the mahjong table and I missed that.
Cat lovers unite
With an alarming concern on animal abuse, Carol Chung addressed the issue with action – through the images of stray cat, she designed an education kit for primary school. I am not sure whether an image of an adorable kitten is more effective than that of a poor stray cat to stop the inhumane act, but education is certainly necessary. Beautifully echoing the issue is Denise Lee’s Life Book – Cats and Dogs, a painting on wall with the ink powder made by animal hair and ashes.
The unintentional collision or juxtaposition of ideas shows to me that this exhibition is down-to-earth (rather than up to the moon). As Art Plus remarked, “the body of work by BU [Hong Kong Baptist University] MVA possesses the spirit of humanity and social concern.” There are 36 more dissertations and works for us to connect the dots and to pay attention to some social topics.
Visited “Pointing to the Moon” at Hong Kong Baptist University on Jul 12, 2013
The article was also posted at The House News.