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.
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」。