1999

 
 

Bad Rice

Dec 12, 1998 - Jan 10, 1999

@1a space

Curator﹕Hiram To
Participating Artists﹕Choi Yan Chi, Kary Kwok, Jo Law, Patrick Lee, Phoebe Man, Scott Redford, Wilson Shieh Ka Ho, V.C + K.H (Cheung King Hung and Vera Chan)

The project was an attempt to construct bridges for an alternative identity by Hong Kong artists in the post-1997 cultural void. It was originally created for Next Wave Festival, Melbourne in May 98 and subsequently also seen in Sydney. Curated by Hiram To, 8 Hong Kong and Australian artists took part in the program. An artists dialogue and a talk on Western Australian art practices were organized on weekends. The project at 1aspace was co-presented by the Australian Consulate General in Hong Kong.


The source for the title of this exhibition--Bad Rice arrived vis-a-vis the 1950’s Hollywood adaptation of Han Su-yin’s Love is a Many-Splendored Thing. In a scene from the film, Su-yin (played by Jennifer Jones) and Elliot (William Holden) contemplated their fate and destiny on the crest of a hill overlooking Hong Kong harbour, set against a time of impending political change--the 1949 Communist takeover of China.

Su-yin relayed the Chinese superstitions where when peasants had a new-born son, they would dress him in girl’s clothes and gave him a girl’s name as they were afraid that the jealous Gods would take him away; and similarly when the crops in the fields were bountiful, they would stand in ditches, shake their heads and cry out aloud "bad rice! bad rice!" Su-yin’s desire to deceive the Gods mirrors her wish that she would not be noticed; for the Gods might descent one day and take her luck away.

Bad Rice, in the current context, offers a more multi-textual reading than handed-down superstitions or nostalgic romanticism. This exhibition is originally curated in-mind for an audience in Australia, the selection of artists from Hong Kong and Australia do not necessarily articulate the representation of a Chinese, or Hong Kong identity, or functioning as the rather hackney notion of cultural exchange. The thrust is more hinged on the artists’ personal assertions of placement and positioning in the schema of contemporary cultural production.

Over the period I have been putting Bad Rice together, one of my concerns has been how it would function as an export cultural package, to be destined for a audience bearing another cultural perspective. Bad Rice is hence not in any way a representative, or a survey exhibition of Hong Kong art; for the project’s inception specifically sets out to undermine the nature of such “national” travelling shows. From my standpoint, although all the artists in Bad Rice have achieved recognition for their work in varying degrees, their work could not be centrally placed as occupying the position of the art institutional mainstream. It could be that, intrinsically, the playful, bad nature of the work by these artists, and at times, the culturally "problematic" themes adopted by them are often far too slippery for the public and the art-world at large.

It is precisely the sense of oscillation between ambiguousness and the direct play of themes which contributes “bad-ness” to the artists in Bad Rice. Like the scene played out by Su-yin and Elliot, the artists in Bad Rice all exercise a sense of “deception” or calculated denial of their “fate” -- the question of “inevitability” in what type of roles they take as artists amid the plight of the visual arts in Hong Kong in its post-1997 void. When the currency of identity crisis and the heated attention from the outside are exhausted, what subjects are left for Hong Kong artists to tackle? Bad Rice pro-offers its position of badness through a plurality of distinctly non-conforming stance.
 

 

HKUST Artist-in-Residence Program Water Market

Feb 27, 1999 - Mar 28, 1999

@1a space

Participating Artist﹕Ichi Ikeda

The installation exhibition by Japanese artist Ichi Ikeda invited the viewers to be "Water Senders", sending water, one of the Earth’s most precious resources, to future generations. Photo documentation of Water Senders from Hong Kong and Japan constituted main part of the work. Outdoor performance and installation piece at the seafront of the former Government Supplies Department premises were staged at the exhibition opening, followed by a talk hosted by the artist. The project was a joint presentation with the HKUST Center for the Arts and was sponsored by the Japan Foundation and Shiseido (Japan) Company Ltd.

 

Too Much, Too Little, Too Late

Apr 03, 1999 - May 02, 1999

@1a space

Curator﹕Kary Kwok
Participating Artists﹕ Angus Chan, Chan Kam Keung, Silvio Chan, Chiang Ka Wah, Almond Chu, Mark Chung, Jolans Fung, Lewis Ho, Rensis Ho, Carol Kwok, Winifred Lai, Kim Lam, Wher Law, Deryck Lewis, Louis Ma, Wing Shya, Ringo Tang, Hiram To, Timon Wehrli, Wong Yue Wai, Ann Woo and Matt Woo  
 
The project attempts to review the state of Hong Kong fashion imagery amd to investigate fashion photography as a form of expression beyond commercialism. The exhibition was curated by fashion photographer and 1a Program Committee member Kary Kwok. 22 Hong Kong fashion designers, fashion photographers and visual artists contributed to the project. Their works were shown on individual lightboxes which created an unique installation piece in the gallery.

 

 

SiXhibition

May 19, 1999 - Jun 13, 1999

@1a space

Participating Artists﹕ Raymond Chan, Howard Chang, Derek Kwan, Angus Yip, Gary Yeung and Terence Wong  
       
Six architecture graduates--Raymond Chan, Howard Chang, Derek Kwan, Angus Yip, Gary Yeung and Terence Wong--built a model of 1aspace (scale=1:1.2, which was slightly smaller than the original) and placed it inside the space itself. By overlapping the two spaces, the project reviewed the relations of conceptual space and physical space. The issue of architectural representation was called into question. The project transformed 1aspace into a new concept and experience, and re-defined exhibition/space.

In conjunction with the exhibition, an Architecture/Education Forum was held on 29 May. Architects, respresentative from Government Architectural Services Department, Architecture educators and Principals from secondary schools discussed architectural design of education institutions at various levels and architecture education in high education.

 

Home Affairs

Jun 18, 1999 - Jul 12, 1999

@1a space

Curator﹕ Siu King Chung and Howard Chan   
Participating Artists﹕ Amazing Twins, Craig Au Yeung, Chen Miji, Choi Yan Chi, Afa Chiang, Fan Yuk-ki, Freeman Lau, Evelyna Liang Kan, Connie Lam, Benny Ding Leong, Tang Tin Chai & Billy Chiu, James Wong,Sara Wong, Wu Wing Yee, Eva Yuen and 20F Art Organization

The Provisional Regional Council Cultural Ambassador Scheme Home Affairs invited 16 households to form partners with 16 Hong Kong artists. Each pair was to create an unique piece of work in the home of the household participant. Through the "intrusion", this project tried to nurture a dialogue between artists and the public, and a joint development towards artistic collaboration and participation.


Who are “artists”? Who are “the public”? The identity of “artists” can be drawn from social and historical systems (such as education background and participation in exhibition) which belong to the public sphere. Whereas public’s imply means “non-artists”. Does categorization of this kind bring convenience or polarization? To most people, and art institutions most of all, “arts” associates with “artists”; those who have never received art training or held exhibition are denied of such title. As far as “art”. is concerned, they can only be labeled audience or target for outreach programs. Being remote from everyday creativity, “arts” makes no relevance to the “public”. “Arts” and creativity, which should come first?

From the very beginning, Home Affairs is designed not as an educational (in its narrowest definition) or social servicing activities. Both genres in fact draw clear boundary between host and guest “recipient” Who educates whom? Who services whom? If the differentiation between “artists”. and “public”. is a making of the mainstream art system, we cannot but question this host-recipient relationship. We cannot deny the value and good will of “bringing art to the community”, but what we concern here are whether the “community”. and artworkers can understand each other on an equal basis during the interaction, and whether they are able to rationalize the process and make mutual adjustment.

Home Affairs invites members of 16 households to become partners to 16 Hong Kong artworkers. Each pair is to create a unique piece of work in or about the particular “home”. As an “experimental ground”, “home” is at the opposite pole of public exhibition space. Public are hosts and artists become guests in this most personal setting. The partnership emphasizes collaboration so as to deepen and personalize the artist-public interaction. Because of the infinite variables, the outcome is unpredictable. We realize the possible issues arise when artists, who use to work in public space, “intrude” into the personal space. But at the same time, it is full of possibilities -- can it suggest a new format of artworker-public relationship? “Home” is both the theme and the catalyst.

We have avoided calling Home Affairs an exhibition. The most essential part of the project is the collaboration between the artists and household participants. In addition, if the works are home-specific, the public exhibition can only be a compromise. The ideal way of presentation would have been opening up the 16 homes for visitors. Only because of privacy issues, we have to go back to conventional exhibition venue and follow the less adventurous host-guest allegory. In fact, no matter artists or public, each person has a home. Every household has its own unique history, collection and creativity. Each home can be an exhibition in itself. If we can all open up our home, each of us can then be host and guest at the same time.

 

Video Ensemble

Jun 26, 1999 - Jul 18, 1999

@1a space

Curator﹕ May Fung   
Participating Artists﹕ Mark Chan, Olive Leung, Makin Fung, Ip Yuk-yiu, Ng Tsz-Kwan, Ellen Pau  

Video Ensemble invited 6 artists to each create his/her own music or "sound" for 4 images, to be displayed in 4 monitors. All 24 sound channels were orchestrated by the 6 artists together at the exhibition opening. Visitors were welcome to create their own sound pieces by manipulating the sound volume of the TV sets with remote controls.

 

loopaloop

Sep 02, 1999 - Oct 03, 1999

@1a space

Participating Artists: Chan Lai Ping, Katherine Chan, Sam Hui, Kong Kee, Vicky Lai+On On Yeung and Sevenfourseven  

After four months" open recruitment and screening, six young Hong Kong artists, Chan Lai Ping, Katherine Chan, Sam Hui, Kong Kee, Vicky Lai+On On Yeung and Sevenfourseven, met for the first time in July and together they discussed the theme for the exhibition. With "loop" as the common theme--it can be a narrative, a form or a concept, the artists create works that are shown simultaneously in 1aspace and the Fringe Club. During the process of the creation, a loop of dialogue sessions has been organized between the artists.

flash! Emerging Artists Series is a regular project that aims at providing exhibition environment and opportunities for local young talents.

 

All you can eat

Oct 09, 1999 - Oct 24, 1999

@1a space

Curator﹕ Robert Loh Suk Yuen and James Wong   
Participating Artists﹕ Annie of Woon, Craig Au Yeung, John Batten, K Y Chan, Cedric Chan, Naomi Chan, Anna Marie Davies, Eddie & Pamela, May Fung, Hui Lok Yung, Kwan Pak Huen, Kwok Mang Ho, Lu Lu Lam , May Lam, Alan Lau, Julian Lee, Anthony Leung, Zoe Li, Benice Ma, Clifford Ma, Angela Man, sevenfourseven, Siu King Chung, Tsui Pui Wan, Hay Young, Peter Yung and more   
        
All You Can Eat is a project about "eat", "food" and "recipe". Artists and public were invited to create with their own interpretations of the themes. The resulting works include text, painting, mixed-media work and internet project. A conceptual banquet was held on 24 October, in which artists prepared creative dishes including selected recipe from open submission.

 

Open/Closed

Nov 27, 1999 - Dec 24, 1999

@1a space

Since mid-1998, many Hong Kong artworkers moved in the Former Governemnt Supplies Department in Oil Street, making "Oil Street" the first art village in Hong Kong. The tenants were notified by the Hong Kong Government in mid-October that their tenancy would be terminated in mid-December.

While fighting for the course of art village, the artworkers there as a response organized Big Act in Oil Street--Towards A Cultural Metropolitan City. The event had no specific closing date. Open invitation was announced to the art community. The result was a large-scale art event featuring over 120 art groups and artists, and covering a wide range of artforms.

Open/Closed exhibit in 1aspace is the focus of the event. The main entrance to the venue was strategically closed, as SAR Chief Executive Mr Tung Chee-Hwa was unable to officiate the opening ceremony. Visitors had to access through the side door to the exhibition, which featured 21 prominent Hong Kong contemporary artists. 

Open/Closed
Retrospective normally works within a timeframe to affirm achievement of some kind. From the first day we moved in the former Government Supplies Department, time has been always a key deciding factor. Nevertheless, there exists a cluster of more than 30 art organizations, individual artists, photographers and architects, making the premises the first conglomeration of creative industry in Hong Kong. With over 100 art activities and 20,000 visitors, "Oil Street=Art Village" is recognized by Hong Kong and international art communities over the short period of 16 months.

In planning Big Act in Oil Street--Towards a Cultural Metropolitan City, we would like to keep it as open as possible -- in terms of time, space and participation. In this sense, the Art Village has transgressed the conventional definition of "village", and becomes a experimental ground and converging point of creativity. If the notion of retrospective is confined to certain framework of time and object, Big Act is set out to transgress this notion.

"Village", in relation to city, is a closed conception. What kind of village is Art Village? Open or closed? What are the possible relationship of (Oil Street) Art Village and the local and international art communities? What is the possible interaction with its environment, such as politics, economics and cultural planning? "Oil Street" is an issue that goes beyond the wall of its premises.

According to the Government, Oil Street is soon to close. But will the experience of Oil Street open up to other possibilities?

 

Bad Rice (Taipei)

Nov 30, 1999 - Dec 04, 1999

@1a space

Curator﹕ Hiram To  
Participating Artists﹕ Choi Yan Chi, Pheobe Man, Kary Kwok, VC+KH

Following the tour in Melborne, Sydney and Hong Kong, Bad Rice was invited by Dimension Endowment of Art to exhibit in Taipei and take part in cultural exchange program. The seminar Dislocation vs Juxtaposition--A Continually Changing Society was held in the opening night. Hong Kong curator Hiram To, artists Choi Yan Chi, Pheobe Man, Kary Kwok, VC+KH had an in-depth discussion with Taiwan artworkers J J Sheh, Michael Chen, Margaret Shiu Tan and Hwang Hai-Meng on cultural identity and role construction.

Returning from “cultural identification” to “role construction”
-- Before Bad Rice Show in Taipei (excerpt)

J J Shih (Taiwan art critic and curator)

After the debut at Melbourne 1998, Bad Rice has travelled to Sydney, Hong Kong and Taiwan. According to the curator, through the touring was undoubtedly a cultural export, the cast of artists in the show was not meant to be a “national team”, and its content not a representation of the mainstream Hong Kong art. Instead, the curator intended to reflect a non-institutionalized thought and a non-mainstream artistic taste. These artworks might be either too bad or too playful to be easily accepted by the institutions. But for the same reason, we believe what Bad Rice would show is another facet of Hong Kong art.

An artist in pursuit of artistic development does not differ very much from a peasant working for good harvest. But while agriculture has to follow the climate, artists can work in more than one direction. Many artists do follow the aesthetic mainstream, sticking to the institutionalized values. There are, however, sone others who dare to be different and take the risk of being marginalized. Their work often appears in “alternative” art spaces. There might be less applause, but it is never silence. The “margin” is always the breeding ground all kinds of “wicked” ideas in art, and its impact is unparalleled by institutions. Though these ideas may be short-lived, but we have to admit that big art movement always starts with the margin.

With the reunification, 1997 is a historical year for Hong Kong. It may be also a critical moment for Hong Kong artists to re-construct their own identities. I remember years ago when Hong Kong art circle actively responded to the reunification --some tried to examine from exterior historical reality and context; some from interior the issue of identity. Hong Kong contemporary art scene had developed a number of important works and exhibitions, arousing attention and discussion from the international art community. This attention had shifted when ’97 became a historical fact; Hong Kong art scene returned to a pacific state. For those who would like to know what happens to post-97 Hong Kong art, Bad Rice is somewhere they can look up to.

It is obvious that the path post-97 Hong Kong art takes is what concerns the curator. When the debate over “identity” becomes passe, when there is no big historical issue and reference for art creation, when international attention shift away, Hong Kong artists have turned from “identification” to “role construction”. This is something we should not miss in this exhibition.

Between “identification” and “role construction”, there is space for us to ponder on. In recent years, the confusion over “identification” has been common to artists of Taiwan and Hong Kong, as reflected in some of their works. The inability to resolve the issue resulted in a generally melancholic and puzzling tone in the works. “Identity”is both a result of socialization by one’s own community and recognition of “others”. The content of “identity” is passive, and closely related to destiny. On the contrary, the “role” one plays is active. Role can be manipulated, altered and chosen, and can be achieved through willpower and effort. From this perspective, “role” is what one longs for, and through which one can manifest “subjectivity”. The return from the identity confusion to role construction, to me, is the path that Hong Kong artists can and should take after ’97.

The artists of Bad Rice had developed interesting work based on the common grounds of role construction. If we have to define the collective character and direction of the artpieces of diverse orientations, it is perhaps a playful way to deal with history and reality through artistic creation.

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