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Tang Kwong San 鄧廣燊

Hidden Space / Hong Kong / Mar 13 – May 2, 2020 / Ellen Wong /

Hidden Space was established in 2017 and has since provided numerous exhibition opportunities to new artists. Since 2018, the winner of Hong Kong Art School’s Hidden Space Award has been given the chance to hold a solo exhibition at the venue. Although located in the out-of-the-way Kwai Chung, it is a good starting point to view emerging forces in the local art scene. In March 2020, Hidden Space hosted Wandering. At Sea, a solo exhibition of young Hong Kong artist Tang Kwong San.

Tang was born in 1992 in Dongguan, mainland China. The absence of a mother is at the core of his work. In his graduate exhibition last year, Tang portrayed his late mother’s room when she was alive. Bedroom (2019) explored Tang’s own inner world, reflecting the sense of loss after the passing of a loved one. Somewhere in Time (2019), his collaboration with artist Yuen Nga Chi, was one of the finalists at the WMA Masters awards 2019/20. Turning a telephone box into a dark room, they used a hole drilled through a pre-1997 coin as a pinhole aperture to capture city architecture built before the handover. The piece hinted at another theme in the artist’s work: post-colonial identity. These two threads converged in Wandering. At Sea, which hovered between video, installation, drawing, and photographs both old and new to create an environment that felt like home, in order to tell the scattered history of an individual, a family and a nation, indirectly revealing his thoughts about his own identity. 

We can see the artist’s narrative beginning from his own family. Through the rearrangement of his late mother’s belongings, he has transformed them. In two sketches of household items, Escape to Hong Kong (2020), he has drawn his mother’s home and turned her passport into a negative image, placing them side by side with a statue of a deity. The juxtaposition recalls how offerings are made to deceased ancestors in traditional Chinese culture. In the video Shout (2018), he tries to blow up a balloon with a recorder, in an attempt to feel his mother’s pain as she struggled with a throat condition. At the same time, he gave the family photo collage made by his late mother pride of place at the venue. In other words, the artist used his mother’s unintentional creations to turn the exhibition into a joint expression of the living and the dead.

Beyond stories of family, the artist expanded the theme of the mother, which can also refer to a homeland. In Wandered (2020), at the entrance of the exhibition, he projected historical footage of the influx of immigrants by sea from mainland China to Hong Kong in 1978 onto an aquarium, in which the silhouettes of tiger sharks appear, denoting the hidden dangers the older generation had navigate to reach Hong Kong. In Wandering (2020), he turned news photographs into drawings to depict the scene in which the Chinese national flag floated in the harbour after protesters took it down from the Five Flag Poles near Tsim Sha Tsui pier during the anti-extradition bill movement last year. His parents’ Chinese hukou household registers at the venue formed an ambivalent tension with the flag. In Chinese, the phrase “secret passage”, describing immigrants swimming from mainland China to Hong Kong, comes with a sense of active invasion. A more appropriate word to use in the exhibition might have been “diaspora”, which comes from the Greek term “diasperien”, with “dia” meaning “across” and “sperien” meaning “to sow or scatter seeds”.

This exhibition of double meanings exposed the limitations of writing: each work could not be appreciated on its own but had to be linked with other pieces, drifting between media and in a state of constant grasping. It was exactly as the artist portrayed: drifting in a foreign land, within a mother’s final moments.

Escape to Hong Kong by Tang Kwong San, Graphite on paper, mounted on wood, photograph, 
177 x 247 cm,  2020. Installation view. Courtesy the artist and Hidden Space.

渡來踱去 / Hidden Space / 香港 / 2020年3月13日至5月2日 / Ellen Wong /

Hidden Space.於2017年成立,賦予不少讓新晉藝術家展出的機會,自2018年起,提供一個個展機會予香港藝術學院的.Hidden Space獎得主。雖然展館地點在較遠的葵涌,但要留意本土藝術的年輕力量,這個會是不錯的出發點。今年三月,Hidden Space舉行了香港年輕藝術家鄧廣燊的個展「渡來踱去」。

鄧廣燊,1992年生於中國東莞。「母」的缺席,是鄧廣燊創作的核心。在去年的畢業展,鄧廣燊繪畫了母親在生時房間的面貌。作品《寢室》(2019年)探索了他的內心世界,反映出他在家人離世後的心理缺失。同時,在今年的.WMA攝影大獎中,他和藝術家袁雅芝以作品《此時某處》(2019年)入圍,他們將公共電話亭轉化成黑房,以回歸前的硬幣作為針孔鏡頭,攝影回歸前的城市建築物。這作品亦暗示了藝術家另一條創作的線索:後殖民時期的身份意識。我認為鄧廣燊在.Hidden Space.的個展「渡來踱去」,透過在錄像、裝置、繪畫、舊照片、攝影作品之間遊走,營造出一個深有家居氣息的環境之餘,亦將他兩條創作脈絡結合,從中訴說個人、家族、「民族」的離散歷史,並間接流露對個人身份的思考。

我們可以看見藝術家由個人的家庭故事開始敘事。他透過重新放置,轉化了不少母親的遺物。在兩幅描繪居家物件的素描繪畫《開,南風窗》(2020年)中,他素描了母親生前的家居環境,並將母親的中國護照以負片形式處理,並嵌在素描畫上,與神像並置。這種並置,令人聯想起傳統中國文化中供奉逝世長輩的陳設。在錄像作品《吶喊中》(2018年),他以牧童笛嘗試吹汽球,感受母親受咽喉疾病折磨時的痛苦。同時他將母親生前拼湊出來的全家福放置在展場上。換言之,藝術家挪用了不少母親生前無意識的創作,將展覽變成一個生者和逝者的共同表達。

在家庭的敍述以外,藝術家亦將作品指涉的「母」拓闊。「母」除了指向母親,亦可以視之為故鄉的象徵。在「渡來踱去」入口的作品《渡來》(2020年),他將1978年的中國內地移民跨越大海偷渡來港的歷史片段,投映在魚缸上,並以魚缸中數條虎頭鯊的倒影,點出父母一輩當年偷渡來港需要承受的隱藏危險,不如表面光 亮。

在作品《渡去》(2020年),他將新聞照片轉化成繪畫,記錄了去年反修例運動時,示威者將尖沙嘴碼頭附近五枝旗杆上的國旗拋下海後,國旗在海面漂浮的畫面。配合展場中父母的中國戶籍,我們可以看見其與國旗形成了一種矛盾的張力。在中文,「偷渡」,有主動侵略的意味。我認為在這個展覽中,應該更加準確地使用英文字「Diaspora」,這個詞源自希臘語「diasperien」,其中前綴「dia」代表跨越,而「sperien」則為分散、散播的意思。如今,「Diaspora」常用於形容離開祖先故土的異鄉人,或是遷徙或分散的行為。

在這一語雙關的展覽中,我總感到書寫的困難:每一件作品幾乎不可能獨立閱讀,但和其他作品形成連結後,在媒介之間互相遊走、捉住的狀態,恰恰跟藝術家的心理狀態和處境一致:在異鄉中流離,流離在母親的彌留之中。

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