She was a British-born Hong Konger with a friendly personality; she cares the community and the forgotten homeless. After her hospitality in Liverpool, she has just been sent to Taipei because it is her duty to be the guest of everywhere. After all handshakes, she has never been home.
All are guests first appeared at Liverpool Biennale last year, curated by Hong Kong Museum of Art and has just remounted for Taipei’s Hong Kong Week on 29 November. Along with other performance and exhibition programmes, Hong Kong Week is a diplomatic act from Hong Kong-Taiwan Economic and Cultural Co-operation and Promotion Office (港台文化合作委員會).
Because of her role, a visiting exhibition, All are guests is deemed to question the host-guest relationship in globalised and moblised metropolises. To us, host-guest relationship can be actualised in restaurants by competing for the bill, thus the meal becomes the host’s possession. Alternatively, thanks to European football leagues, Hong Kong fans have a better understanding of home team versus away team or else they couldn’t comprehend in Mong Kok Stadium. We often say to our visitors “make yourself at home” which implies they are not at home. Does being a guest refer to one’s physical location? Does a host tie with one’s possession or affiliation?
In her video work Out of Place(鄉關何處), Leung Mee Ping captures the movement of “city drifters” by tailing them in the hustle and bustle of big cities like Hong Kong, Manila, Shenzhen, Taipei, Tokyo and Varansi (India). From their backs, the figures look like a vagabond fleeting among crowds, a drunkard and an insane rolling on the street, an aimless cow turning into allies, etc. Although viewers do not get to see their faces, their path and pacing suggest a strong sense of disorientation and disconnection. Who are they? Do they belong there? The artist started the project one day in 2005 in Wan Chai. Since then, she has been travelling to Asian cities as a person elsewhere and revealing a sociological snapshot of the homeless or the forgotten universal to any city. The cities are divergent in regard to culture and economy yet wandering amid the imageries leads me to find their commonality.
Another work is unarguably a symbol of “Hong Kong”. Following his artistic practice of intertextuality and reproduction, Chow Chun Fai reproduced frames from Hong Kong Tourism Board’s propagandistic video. Reproducing ‘Hong Kong – Live it, Love it!’ (復製「香港－－樂在此，愛在此！」）is a series of 108 paintings and an animated video with sound. By freezing the images from motion to still, the paintings decelerate the vibrancy portrayed in the video and create gap between transitions. The work allows viewers to check out every scene, character and component meticulously compressed in two minutes and by doing so, opens up a space to observe the city. Chow’s brushstroke blurs the depiction of the video but sharpens my sense to question what is real.
From Leung’s exploration in Asian cities to Chow’s imageries of Hong Kong, the third work has scaled down to community. It is a collaborative project of which the design arm CoLAB emphasised it was not their intention to do “art” at all. To soap-maker Bella Yip, So…Soap! is a job sticking to her living principles and balancing between family and making a living. To social activists and environmentalists, it concerns the sustainability of ecology and the extended role played by house-makers in the community. To consumers, it is a brand for an organic, hand-made soap with distinctive simple design. Its eco- and family-friendly products are sold at design stores, green shops and training centres of trade unions. When art is to intervene our life with a new perspective, So…Soap!（區区肥皂）achieves the same mission. Nobody can be alone in the environmental and communal scheme of things, so everyone should be the host craving for the bill to treat the Earth better!
It is just a brief introduction to All are guests at Taipei’s Hong Kong Week. I’m about to share more about this visit in the following week. In the meantime, if you happen to visit Taipei before Dec 15, don’t miss the Symphony of Lights (Huashan version) at night because you can create your own graphic over the Hong Kong skyline without censorship! I could see Hong Kong visitors were more excited than the locals ever.
Visited on Nov 29 – Dec 1, 2013 @ 2A, Huashan 1914 Creative Park
The article was also posted at The House News.