A Fear Is This
Opening reception tomorrow, 7pm
Adrian Wong has no fear of Chinese superstitions - in fact, he embraces them. Since moving to Hong Kong in 2005, the Chicago-born Chinese artist has become intrigued by the traditions, rituals and superstitions that permeate Chinese society.
In A Fear Is This, Wong presents more than a dozen sculptures, photographs, installations and videos that deconstruct the city's anxieties and phobias. 'The themes of fear and anxiety are generated from my observations when the avian flu was at its peak,' says Wong. 'My Cantonese is limited, so I picked up bits of conversation - ho gang, ho pah [very scared] - and this fear was distributed throughout the psyche of Hong Kong.'
As artist-in-residence at Videotage, Wong first focused on his artistic talents in 2000 after a stint in Armenia, where he communicated to children through art.
He later returned to the US and earned a Masters of Fine Art at Yale University.
In his first Hong Kong solo exhibition, the part-time art lecturer at the Hong Kong Arts Centre investigated Chinese taboos such as the number four, which in Cantonese sounds similar to the word death; washing your hair on the first
day of the Lunar New Year; and people's fear of seeing ghosts.
Playing with Ghosts is an interactive installation with a bowl of human hair, clothing threads, fermented tea, sea salt, candles and a phial of fake dog-eye fluid. From Taoist monks, the elderly, clients and co-workers, Wong learned how to conjure up a ghost. He then wrote the instructions on mirrors, which allows viewers to perform the rituals.
In the three-minute video, Haak Sei Wuih Tuhng Mau Jai (Triads with Kitten, above), Wong assembled four men with tattoos (to suggest the involvement of organised crime) and made them dance with a kitten. 'I've seen films with a one-dimensional portrayal of illegal activities and I wanted to show a tender, softer side of these stereotypically tough guys with a frail and cute kitten,' he says.
'Hong Kong is such as safe place to live, but people are constantly worrying about disease, organised crime and the influence of China. Let's look at these images of fear and address this anxiety and worry within the Hong Kong context.'
Performance art, tomorrow, 7.30pm-9.30pm, Tue-Sun, 2pm-8pm, Unit 14, Cattle Depot Artists Village, 63 Ma Tau Kok Rd, To Kwa Wan. Inquiries: 2529 0087. Ends Mar 19