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Various artists

Yummy Gummy / Eaton / Hong Kong / Aug 23 – Sep 1 / Ellen Wong /

Yummy Gummy, curated by Wong Ka Ying, was the most eclectic of the programmes and activities dedicated to celebrating women in this year’s lineup at Women’s Festival Hong Kong.

For starters, Ho Sin Tung’s I’ve often sailed in her (2019) could be seen in the lift – not the ideal place spacially to display the piece, but one that attracted
a larger crowd than would normally attend a gallery exhibition thanks to its location in the Eaton Hotel. The way in which the curator, the Eaton Hotel team and the artists worked together to appeal to a wider crowd is valuable for future reference.

Alysa Chan’s Just cut it! (2019) outside the exhibition venue within the hotel was a companion piece to Sadako’s My Personal Feelings (2016-2019) inside the venue. Both used techniques superficially associated with mass media to raise issues related to minorities, and both were somewhat straightforward in their approaches. Chan’s work questioned the relationship between hair length and impressions of primness through the poster format, while Sadako showed her own portraits in drag in lightboxes.

Just cut it! by Alysa Chan, 2019. Courtesy the artist and Eaton.

Cheng Ting Ting’s Soft Sea (2019) was quite ambiguous at first glance, its relationship with the theme of the exhibition unclear. The artist combined a window at the venue with her own screen and paper-wrapped glass, provoking feelings of restfulness, silent gazes and a rejection of meaning. Meanwhile, Bobby Yu Shuk Pui’s √C.albicans x Rosary (2019) challenged audience members as they attempted to enter the venue by placing sticky tape on the floor at the entrance. The sticky tape adhered to
shoes and made their wearers uncomfortable; Yu used it as a metaphor for the distress of having a candidiasis infection. The Chinese term for candidiasis is the same as that for rosary, and the artist played with this duality, suggesting that when infected by candidiasis, the only consolation one can get comes from a rosary, a form of prayer psalter. As part of the same work she used a model of two hands tied together by a string of rosary beads, allowing the audience to sense her longing for a companion to share her burden and pain. In other words, the relationship between the audience and the works was simultaneously antagonistic and companionable.

The fact that most of the works in this exhibition were new, and that many of the artists were unable to attend the exhibition, made the pieces feel less than complete. Nevertheless, the merit of this exhibition was that it didn’t have the sense of suffocation so prevalent in other exhibitions about gender issues, such as Performing Society: The Violence of Gender at Tai Kwun, a clear presentation of a certain kind of oppression and violence. Yummy Gummy, by contrast, was an emotional, intimate, complex examination of the same subject. It was a bold, experimental exhibition, one whose tone was perhaps more diverse and tolerant than previous gender-related exhibitions.

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