This exhibition features the artists as anthropologists of globalized systems, whose interest lies “in-between” spaces where ideological conceptions, economic and social basis are once again open up societal and humanistic ethical question lay bare in the artists investigations. Taking the title from Tan’s recent work as a point of departure, The Limit of Visibility points to what is scientifically determined as the scope of what ‘the naked eye’ can or cannot perceive.
By making an artwork documenting the production and labour needed to transform and transport vast amounts of waste material into more convenient forms, Tan’s new video work quietly questions the nature and value of the production of art itself. Tan’s work spans diverse materials and media regarding the intersection between culture, work and identity and often culminates in a performative investigation towards political issues such as value and economy. Similarly, Chow’s works examines the fundamental question “what is to be done?” in redefining the terms of political engagement for cultural practices; his recent works are sets on the dubious state of Hong Kong governmental system, and society, often rebels the ideological context of the modern propaganda by reinserting new narratives into their complex relationships.
Tan’s latest video, The Limit of Visibility (2012) presents a day in the barge area of a large governmental recycling shipyard. This video captures two different events: the lifting of the cardboard and crushed paper tonnage and the movement of a mysterious pile of material collected from a Salvation Army store weaving through the roads connecting the waste barges and shipping equipment. A mysterious collision is suggested between the bustle of industry and the industriousness of the waste yard as it processes items of personal clothing in this phase of their recycling loop. The compacted cubes of paper and cardboard are craned from trucks into formal grids that seem to carpet the long barges into landscapes of refuse mountains and valleys. Compacted into modernist blocks this previously loose paper is the leftover byproduct of a booming information industry. Distributed between masses of ships and industrial crane equipment, this material is being prepared to become another kind of vast colony. Sent to less developed countries to be broken down and salvaged into a new form, this waste material is a literal paper trail of the scale and power economic development and trade represent. The sheer tonnage of the paper and the beauty of its compressed form will undergo future material transformations that will alter both its visual and metaphorical state.
In conversation with The Limit of Visibility, this exhibition includes Chow’s new performative documentation works that involves both a critical revision and narratives, by creating an alternative action while providing an awareness of specific conditions that determine our interpretation and conception. Chow presents a new video work accompanied by a photograph depicting himself in an advertising campaign of the Hong Kong Tourism Board entitled Reproducing Hong Kong- Asia'a World City (2012). The opening image of the video presents a young woman embarks a fairylike journey through wide ranges of activities that Hong Kong has to offer culturally as well as socially. Chow modifies the video from the Hong Kong Tourism Board, containing reproductions by preforming a new sequence through photograph that aims to involve the viewers in a collaborative re-imaging of the role of intended communication between the maker and its specific recipient and/or a wider audience. The video physically engages with the photograph are laid out by the performance of Chow’s critical attention to the invisible practices and reveals that they are omnipresent forces of misconception of the modern propaganda.
A text-based wall installation Untitled – Gold, Silver and Copper and works from the drawing series The Hallucinations of the City follow Tan’s earlier investigations juxtaposes forms of drawing and design to reference the geopolitics about developing territories in the Asia Pacific region. The Hallucinations of the City are a series of drawings that refer to architectural structures of cities - floating visions of shantytowns, oil refineries, high-density housing and temporary shelters. Part dreamscape and part study of the phenomena of the city, the works suggest that the sprawling developments and inhabitants are connected in patterns of conflict, social hierarchy, expansionist boom periods and invasion or exodus. Created by a series of techniques, from burnt ash and digital photography to brush and graphic ink, the layering of the work draws on a history of mark making. Constructed from the burn marks of a flame, the drawings are then worked in layers of removal and addition. Digital printing and pen studies are mixed with the film of smoke and then removed back by etching the surface. Photographs are created by developing light onto paper, just like a negative, these drawings are created or obscured by the action of the flame. One of the earliest recorded forms of hidden code was the use of ink that became visible on paper only with flame or bleach.
About The Artists
Yuk King Tan (b.1971 in Australia), The Chinese / New Zealand artist graduated from Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland University and has taught and lectured at graduate and post-graduate art schools. She has had major solo and group exhibitions, most notably at the Camden Arts Centre, London; Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen; Museum Fridericianum, Kassel; Kunstverein, Hamburg; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Wellington City Gallery, New Zealand; Hong Kong Arts Centre; and Artists Space, New York. She has held residencies at Dunedin, New Plymouth, Queensland, Aachen, Sydney, and London and has participated in international biennials in Queensland, Vilnius, Auckland, and São Paulo. She currently lives and works in Hong Kong.
Chow Chun Fai (b.1980), A fine arts graduate from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, CHOW is an active member of the Fotanian Art Village and a visiting lecturer at local universities. His work has gained international notoriety and selected exhibitions include ‘Biennale di Alessandria’, Italy; He Xiang Ning Art Museum, Shen Zhen, Hanart Square China; The Hong Kong Museum of Art; Himalayas Art Museum, Shanghai; 'Beyond Foreordination – Contemporary Photography Exhibition' (798 Beijing Art Seasons), 'YCCA – Young Chinese Contemporary Art', HangART-7, Austria, and Chow, Chun-Fai, Hong Kong Arts Centre.