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Counting Down, Counting Back and Counting Forward


Counting Down, Counting Back and Counting Forward
Image courtesy of Mario Ohibsky.

Hong Kong is a fast-paced city. The things that are under the spotlight at the moment could be forgotten next second. The art scene in Hong Kong is no exception. While counting down the end of the year, here are a few things related to the Hong Kong art ecology of 2017 that I wish to be remembered. At the same time, I would also list a few things that I am looking forward to for 2018. They are by no means all inclusive.

1. M+

Since the open of the pavilion, M+’s team diligently rolls out new exhibitions every season through which the museum’s team experiments with different curatorial and museological approaches. One of the highlight of the year must have been the museum’s first ink art exhibition, 'The Weight of Lightness: Ink Art at M+', which opened in October. The curator of the show, Lesley Ma, showcased around 60 pieces of ink artworks by 42 artists from more than 10 countries. Through the multifaceted selection of artworks, Ma aimed to refresh the discourse of the traditional medium. The show lasts till 14th Jan 2018. If you are in town, don’t miss the chance to peep into the museum’s ink art collection. 

View of Installation at The Weight of lightness: Ink Art at M+. Image courtesy of Erin Li.

After the ink art exhibition, the museum will open its first show of 2018 with Samson Young’s return exhibition, 'Samson Young: Songs for Disaster Relief World Tour' on 9 February 2018. Since M+ curated the Hong Kong’s participation in the Venice Art Biennale in 2013, the museum has also curated a return show with the participating artist of the year in Hong Kong every time after the biennial. As Young’s exhibition in Venice had a great reputation, his return exhibition in Hong Kong in February is one of the show that cannot be missed in 2018. 

2. Alternative Art Spaces

2017 was a year of farewell for Hong Kong art scene. Multiple alternative art spaces have closed, for example, 100ft Park and Things that can happen in Sham Shui Po, Kowloon. 

Spring Workshop from a Distance. Image courtesy of Erin Li.

Spring Workshop in Wong Chuk Hang is one of them. Spring was an active institution in the South Island Cultural District long before the neighbour becomes a hub for art galleries. Situated in an industrial building, Spring had nothing to do with the rigid cookie cutter form of industrial production. With its multi-functional space, it was a laboratory that hosted more than 19 residencies, 20 events and performances to name but a few. Spring Workshop and its founder, Mimi Brown, has been a solid support in different way of the art ecology and it will definitely be missed. 

After saying goodbye to these wonderful alternative art spaces that once were the places for art lovers to gather, one may ask: where can I go to see art without entering a rigid white cube space? I would suggest, please bear with me, a Michelin-star restaurant in Central, Duddell’s. As one of the few Cantonese on the Michelin guide, it may more often appear on the radar of a foodie than the one of an art lover. However, Duddell’s is not just a restaurant, but also a place that starts to become part of the cultural scene in Hong Kong through its consistent support and dedication to the art ecology. Occupying two floors in a building on Duddell street, Duddell’s has a restaurant for fine dining and a bar for snacks and drinks, within which curated exhibitions and art events take place. So one does not have to be intimidated by its Michelin-star fame. It can also be a place for you to get a beer to chill with your friends and see some art in the centre of a concrete jungle.

View of Installation at 'The Preservationists'. Image courtesy of Duddell's.

At the moment, an exhibition titled 'The Preservationists', curated by Ingrid Pui Yee Chu, is on view at Duddell’s. Mostly on special loan from various private collections in Hong Kong, the artworks by eleven artists all incorporate materials that can be found on-site at Duddell’s, including marble, wood, stone, ink, etc. The exhibition can be read as a comment on the unique relationships between artworks and their surroundings in the dense city of Hong Kong. Art lovers, Duddell’s will be place for a holiday treat for both for your tummy and your eyes. 

3. Art Basel Week

Art Basel is the blockbuster art fair that throw Hong Kong under the spotlight. Every year, there are more than 200 galleries join the fair and showcase their best selection of artists and their artworks to both local and international audience. Alongside with exhibitions at the gallery booths, there are also a lot of art events happening in the fair, like talks, screenings and art tours to name  but a few. For example, in 2017, Art Basel commissioned Hong Kong artist Kingsley Ng to reproduce his mesmerizing participatory artwork. "Twenty-Five Minutes Older", was an tour that invited participants boarded a double-decker-tram. The tram was turned into a camera obscura through which the artist transformed the cityscape and created an incredible art experience that are connected to the environment of the city. Art Basel is often thought of as an art event that is quite distanced from the local community. Nevertheless, Kingsley Ng’s artwork was a spectacle that would stay in the participants’ memories because of its romantic interaction with the city.

Poster of Morgan Wong's Exhibition in 2018. Image courtesy of A+ Contemporary.

For Art Basel 2018, another Hong Kong artist, Morgan Wong, will have an exhibition at the discovery section that can also be read through the perspective of Hong Kong. Titled 'An Inch of Time; An Inch of Gold', the exhibition will show latest artworks of Wong that echoes Wong’s continuous concern of the uncontrollability of time. As a city that is constantly being described as a borrowed place on borrowed time, Hong Kong and the art fair will be the best backdrop of Wong’s exhibition.   

Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.

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