Shaoyinong & Muchen, Community Museum Project: People Used to Dream about the Future

Shaoyinong & Muchen, Community Museum Project: People used to Dream about the Future

21 May – 18 July 2004

Whilst aesthetically very different, the images of disused assembly halls from the Cultural Revolution by Shaoyinong and Muchen and the collected objects from recent demonstrations in Hong Kong by Community Museum Project have both been made through an anthropological process as well as being remnants of political activism.

Begun in 2002, Shaoyinong and Muchen’s Assembly Hall series documents disused assembly halls from the Cultural Revolution. Having across rural China the artists have visited 250 sites and it is expected that the project will take another two years to complete. The photographs selected for the exhibition are part of a body of work consisting of around 200 images. The photographs of the vast halls are reminders of a more political age when politics played a central role in community life.

In contrast to the stark photographs of empty assembly halls, void of people and social activity is Objects of Demonstration by Community Museum Project. Started in response to an imagined government museum said to house objects made by the public for protest, the project focuses on the performative element and material culture of demonstrations. Consisting of found objects created by the general public they show the creativity and activism of the people of Hong Kong. Despite being thought of as a less political space than Mainland China, which has had a prolific political history, Hong Kong has seen up to 7,000 protests since its return to China in mid 1997.

Objects of Demonstration extends the objects temporary lifespan, discusses, responds to and re-organises the objects presenting the culture of demonstration beyond the news headlines. Collectively they document social issues over the years, exploring the boundaries of freedom of expression in society.

Featured artists: Husband and wife Shaoyinong and Muchen are based in Beijing. This is their first exhibition in the UK despite having shown extensively at an international level.

Hong Kong curatorial group Community Museum Project is made up of artists and cultural workers Howard Chan, Siu King-Chung, Tse Pak-Chai and Phoebe Wong.  They are actively involved in the independent art scene in Hong Kong playing key roles in organisations and collectives.