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Postmodern Tales

HART / Hong Kong / Mar 20 – Apr 29, 2023 /

Showcasing the latest works from HART’s artists-in-residence, Postmodern Tales was a multimedia group show featuring eight different artists whose practices are as thought-provoking as they are diverse. From various cultural backgrounds, they are connected via their unique contemporary sensibilities, as well as their willingness to approach art using novel ideas – or to present novel ideas using art. As HART’s second off-site exhibition, curated by HART director Vera Lam, the presentation not only captured what it means to be postmodern, but also served to cement the non-profit organisation’s commitment to nurturing Hong Kong talent. 

Visitors were greeted with Body as Lifeguard Tower I (2022), a hanging, life-sized cyanotype fabric work by Michele Chu. Imprinted with silhouettes of her own body, the work is a metaphor for emotional barriers, and aims to break down invisible walls by acknowledging their existence. In Replica of Ruins: Anonymous Road (2023), Natalie Chu Lok Ting invites visitors to step back in time. Her recreation of a pathway in a Chinese garden leads to discovering and uncovering a shared history. Echoing her references to time in a completely different manner, Damian Boylan chooses to stress its impermanence and temporality. Half-Life (2021-2023) is a sound composition of field recordings as an ephemeral accompaniment to a painting made from bismuth – a futuristic-looking metal. The three artists explore the meaning of existence through the human experience – be it relationships, history or expressions alluding to the passage of time.

Left: Half-Life by Damian Boylan, 2021-2023. Right: Replica of Ruins: Anonymous Road by Natalie Chu Log Ting2023. Courtesy the artists and HART.

A crowd pleaser, Vaevae Chan’s Choose Your Weapon… Fight! (2016-21) addresses the world’s obsession with consumerism and the inability to live without technology. A series of brightly coloured iPhone cases that look more like anime-inspired weapons are accompanied by photographs of staged scenarios that expound on the idea of a world where the ludicrous-looking phone cases actually exist. And, taking the modern relationship between artwork and viewer a step further, Wu Jiaru’s untitled_excesstears_mktg_orange_i (2020) invites audiences to take pictures of the artwork with flash for the desired effect. The millennial artists’ works beg the million-dollar question: are we are truly capable of being disconnected from our devices?

Another work that creates stimulating conversations is Merryn Trevethan’s colourful site-responsive installation Frequently Lost (2021-23), which focuses on urban wanderings in Hong Kong amid the pandemic – a metaphor for navigating relationships during uncertain times. Evoking complex emotions about the afterlife, Amy Tong’s hanging paper pillow in You And I, 2053, We Hold Hands Under A Bridge (2023) alludes to a mental state where sleeping, dreaming and dying have become synonymous. Lastly, poet Nicholas Wong plays on the dynamics between imagery and texture in his paper series therefore, this note is not meant to (2023) by creating a whole new language of communication without text.

Frequently Lost by Merryn Trevethan, 2021-23. Courtesy the artist and HART.

Creating art in the same inclusive co-working environment, these HART artists belong to the new generation whose practices evolve and develop alongside each other’s, along with changing socio-cultural currents. With HART’s mission of grooming local talent, the presentation was not only an affirmation of the interconnectivity of these artistic relationships, but more importantly one that places the city of Hong Kong front and centre. It is a collective reflection of the hopes and dreams of this new generation of artistic talent, with the Hong Kong experience at its core.

Featured image: Choose Your Weapon… Fight! by Vaevae Chan, 2016-21.

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