Both Sides Now: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times?
25 September – 6 December 2015
Associate Curators: Isaac Leung, Videotage (Hong Kong) and Jamie Wyld, videoclub (UK)
Artists: Rachel Maclean, Ben Rivers, Lucy Clout, Daniel Shanken, David Blandy, Wong Ping, Birdy Chu, Ellen Pau, Lu Yang, MAP Office
Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) is excited to present Both Sides Now II – It was the Best of Times, it was the Worst of Times? 彼岸觀自在: 最好的時代，最壞的時代?, a collection of moving image works by artists from the UK, China and Hong Kong. The title of the exhibition comes from the famous opening line of Charles Dickens’ book A Tale of Two Cities, a story which is set in London and Paris during the late 1700s. The novel depicts the plight of the French peasantry demoralised by the French aristocracy, juxtaposing this with similarly unflattering social parallels in London life during the same period.
Our exhibition title ends with a question mark, posing a question as to whether the themes in Dickens’ novel are still relevant today. Are our futures filled with promise? As we examine the world around us, the implications of wealth creation, capitalism and its proposed decline—what does the future really hold for us? The participating artists attempt to answer this question through thoughtful, challenging and provocative approaches to exploring our recent history. Some of the recent events being touched upon include: the recent referendum on Scottish Independence, the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to mainland China as well as the 2014 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong known as the Umbrella Revolution.
Through this exhibition, cultural, political and social issues interact with each other and we witness international viewpoints and themes which might have parallels in our own immediate communities. This exhibition is curated in partnership with two contemporary galleries that focus on promoting moving image works – Videotage (Hong Kong) and Videoclub (UK).
To coincide with the exhibition, CFCCA would like to welcome Wong Ping, who will undertake a 3 month residency here. Wong Ping is a Cantonese animator and director based in Hong Kong, mixing topics such as teenage lust, shame and sexual suppression with a surprisingly fresh and luscious colour palette. A full programme of talks will run alongside the exhibition, all events are free to attend and do not require booking.
Videoclub was established in the UK to support artists by increasing engagement with film, video and moving image work and creating opportunities for critical engagement with contemporary art.
Videotage is a leading not for profit organisation in Hong Kong focusing on the presentation, promotion, production and preservation of video and media art, serving artists in the expanding technological art and culture network.
Emo Nose. Wong Ping is a Cantonese animator and director based in Hong Kong, mixing topics such as teenage lust, shame and sexual suppression with a surprisingly fresh and luscious colour palette. NOWNESS writes about him: “Wong Ping gives new meaning to NSFW… His gasp-inducing imagination feeds into our child-like curiosity to toy with social and cultural taboos”. He likes to hike, which gives him numerous randomly meaningless but beautiful inspirations.
Wong Ping was selected as one of the Saatchi & Saatchi 2013 new directors and his works have been internationally screened and exhibited.
Hope This Gets Through Last Minute. Ellen Pau studied in Radiography at the Hong Kong Polytechnic in 1982. But being a professional radiologist could not fulfill her creative obsessions with video art and media art. A self-taught video artist, her first debut ‘Glove’, a super-8mm video artwork, was made and screened internationally in 1984. Pau’s early works first appeared in local screening clubs and then resurfaced on the international arena starting in 1987. From there, Pau dedicated her life in video art to the development of media art in Hong Kong. In 1986, she founded Videotage, a media art collective in Hong Kong, with Wong Chi-fai, May Fung and Comyn Mo, aiming at creating an umbrella organization for media artists, that facilitated artistic and cultural exchange and promoted video and media art in Hong Kong. Pau is also the founding director cum curator of the Microwave International New Media Arts Festival, which celebrates its 15th Anniversary in 2011. Pau works as an independent cinematographer, curator, art critic and researcher focusing on Asian new media arts. She also works as an art consultant for her newly founded company Inter-Act Arts. Pau’s single channel videos and video installation works have been extensively exhibited worldwide in film festivals and art biennials. In 2000, ‘Recycling Cinema’ was selected and exhibited at the Hong Kong Pavilion in the 49th Venice Biennial. ‘Recycling Cinema’ challenges our perception of mono-direction movements in mainstream film.
This is My Land. Ben Rivers is an artist and experimental filmmaker based in London. His work has been shown in many film festivals and galleries around the world and has won numerous awards. He investigates themes from exploring unknown wilderness territories to candid and intimate portrayals of real-life subjects.
The Lion and the Unicorn. Rachel Maclean is a Glasgow based artist working largely in green-screen composite video and digital video and digital print, often exhibiting this alongside props, costumes and related sculptures and painting. Maclean’s works explores the boundaries of history and the potential of imagined futures, creating hyper-glowing, artificially saturated visions that juxtapose a heightened positivity with a playful grotesque aesthetic
Story of Hong Kongers. Birdy Chu is an artist studied Graphic Design at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, film & video production and advanced photography in Canada. Birdy has worked as photojournalist, video director and lecturer. His works have been shown in film festivals in Britain, Iceland, Japan, Australia, Poland, Holland, Hong Kong and Macau. He later obtained his Master in Visual Art Administration at the Hong Kong Baptist University and set up Art Casa which promotes photography and art education. His solo Photography Exhibition held in Canada at 2009 & 2013. He was selected as the finalist of the Hong Kong Contemporary Art Biennial Awards 2009 and finalist of the Hong Kong Art Prize 2013. He employs visual images to show his concerns on social development and leaves evidence to this ever changing city.
From Our Own Correspondent. Lucy Clout‘s previous work investigates the experience of viewing performance, interrogating the communicative aspects of the physical and social relationships between the audience and the art-object/performer. She graduated from the Royal College of Art with an MA in Sculpture in 2009 and has exhibited in commercial and non-commercial spaces in the UK and internationally.
Anjin 1600: Edo Wonderpark. David Blandy is an artist who works with the moving image in the digital world, from YouTube tutorials, music videos, television series, anime and the narrative sections of computer games; highlighting our relationship with popular culture and investigating what makes us who we are. He lives and works in London and Brighton and is represented by Seventeen Gallery, London. Anjin 1600: Episode 1, 2012 (10 mins) William Adams also known in Japanese as Anjin-sama was an English navigator who travelled to Japan and is believed to be the first Briton ever to set foot there, landing in 1600. Anjin 1600: Episode 1 is an anime-styled animation that reimagines William Adam’s journey to, and his time in, Japan as an epic space adventure. Fusing 16th century history, Homer’s Odyssey and anime plot devices, Anjin 1600 results in a complex meditation on cultural tourism and identity. Anjin 1600: Edo Wonderpark, 2013 (9 mins) This work started as a re-imagining of the story of William Adams (1564-1620), known as the first Englishman to set foot in Japan in 1600. Adams was the first English Samurai, the only westerner to be granted that title (he became known in Japanese as “Anjin-sama”, literally translated as “Pilot”). Soon after Adams landed in Japan, he became a key advisor to the Shogun, helping him build Japan’s first Western-style ships. Adams’ story is of a man finding a foreign culture to be more civilised than his own, alienating himself from his countrymen, yet never able to be truly “Japanese”. Child Of The Atom, 2010 (15 mins) This family lore regarding David Blandy’s grandfather, held as a POW in Malaya and Taiwan from 1942, provided the genesis of Blandy’s solo exhibition, Child of the Atom. Generated by an underlying guilt about his own and also his daughter’s existence, Blandy’s film documents their visit to Hiroshima to literally and symbolically search for their ‘origins’.
PRDREPORT. MAP Office is a multidisciplinary platform devised by Laurent Gutierrez (1966, Casablanca, Morocco) and Valérie Portefaix (1969, Saint-Étienne, France). This duo of artists has been based in Hong Kong since 1996, working on physical and imaginary territories using varied means of expression. MAP Office projects have been exposed in over 100 exhibitions at prestigious venues including the MoMA and the Guggenheim Museum (New York), the Georges Pompidou Centre (Paris) and the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art (Beijing), around 30 Biennales and Trienniales around the world with for example five contributions to the Venice Biennale in Art and Architecture (2000, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010).
Their cross-disciplinary practice has been the subject of a monograph, MAP OFFICE – Where the Map is the Territory (2011). MAP Office was the recipient of the 2013 edition of the Sovereign Asian Art Prize. Laurent Gutierrez is the co-founder of MAP Office. He is an Associate Professor at the School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University where he leads the following Master programs: Design Strategies as well as Urban Environments Design. In addition to his professorial position and artistic practice, Gutierrez is also the co-director of The Urban Environments Lab. Valérie Portefaix is the principal and co-founder of MAP Office. After receiving a Bachelor in Fine Art, and a Master of Architecture degree, she earned a Ph.D. in Urbanism. She is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
Cancer Baby. Born and based in Shanghai, Lu Yang graduated from the China Academy of Art in 2010. She has become a rare practitioner whose work is equally at home in a film festival screening and visual art exhibition. Using a variety of media: video, installation, animation, and digital painting, game, the artist unflinchingly explores existential issues about the nature of life and where it resides. Armed with a overlaying mix of strategies taken from Science, Religion, Psychology, Neuroscience, Medicine, Games, Pop Culture and Music, among others, Lu Yang overrides the often delusional belief that humans control are privileged within this universe. Instead, she highlights the biological and material determinants of our condition reminding us of our transient and fragile existence, but with an edge of dark humor that leaves no room for sentimentality. Her latest project creates presents some of her key projects since 2011 and new works commissioned for the exhibition that feature fantastical, often morbid visions of death, sexuality (or a-sexuality), illness, and neurological constructs of both real life-forms and religious icons. An experimental retrospective that captures her interest in games and virtual realms as sites for manipulative, provocative, and critical possibilities, the show transforms the storefront of Wallplay (118 Orchard St in New York.) into of a vintage arcade featuring interactive games, videos installations, and a shop of bizarre objects. Her works have been featured in important solo and group exhibitions at Venice Biennale Chinese Pavilion2015, UCCA (Beijing), Centre Pompidou (Paris), Shanghai Biennale 2012, Musée d’art contemporain of Lyon, Momentum (Berlin), Tampa Museum of Art,The 5th Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale, etc. Lu Yang currently splits her time between Beijing and Shanghai.
Common Descent. Daniel Shanken is a Hungarian artist from Los Angeles, CA, living and working in London, UK. After receiving his BFA from Art Center in Pasadena, he completed his MFA at Goldsmiths College in 2012. Recent work has been shown at 17 Gallery, London; The Dye House, Peckham; S1 Artspace, Sheffield; and Lodge Park National Trust. His work moves between mediums and is primarily time-based.
Exploration of the Both Sides Now II exhibition with curators Ying Tan (CFCCA) and Jamie Wyld (Videoclub)
Saturday 26 September
Institute of Contemporary Art, London
Wong Ping in conversation
Thursday 29 October
The University of Salford (venue tbc, check CFCCA website for more details)
David Blandy and Wong Ping film screening and in conversation
Sunday 29 November