Talkover/Handover - Dialogues on Hong Kong Art 10 Years After 1997

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2007, 12:00am

Talkover/Handover - Dialogues on Hong Kong Art 10 Years After 1997

1a space, Cattle Depot Artist Village

Reviewed: Jul 7

There's a surfeit of handover-related exhibitions on at the moment, many of which smack of dubious self-congratulation. Talkover/Handover, however, is a genuine attempt to reflect on Hong Kong's return to Chinese sovereignty.

The curators asked 12 artists who were active in 1997 to pair themselves with other established or emerging artists, interview each other and then produce some work.

The entire show looks good in 1a space's difficult-to-use gallery and there are some thought-provoking pieces. Chan Yuk-keung's Lover Spy - a mounted rifle with sight and spot (right) - alludes to Hong Kong's relationship with China as lover-like but dangerous in a post-September 11 world of surveillance. Stanley Wong's (aka Another- mountainman) Tomorrow Daily, a 10-page newspaper dated July 1, 2047, is outstanding.

However, the research intentions of the exhibition are problematic. The handover was a political event with social ramifications - and there's just not enough politics here. Tung Chee-hwa's resignation, the July 1 marches of 2003 and 2004, the Right of Abode ruling and government inflexibility in the face of criticism should, one might think, be topics ripe for artists to tackle.

Political issues get scant mention - as do social issues such as Sars, unemployment, the widening wealth gap, the destruction of heritage buildings, the internet and pollution.

'Hong Kong artists seldom deal with matters of life and death,' says participating artist Luke Ching Chin-wai. 'Even if they intend to do something political, the noise is small. That seems to imply that what they're doing isn't worth doing.'

The curatorial intent of this exhibition may have been awkward, but responsibility for the results rests squarely with the individual artists.