Imagined sister inspires Tang's latest exhibition

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 31 August, 2012, 2:45pm

I Call You Nancy

Amelia Johnson Contemporary

She likes music and has been living away from home, travelling for many years. Now, at 25, she has decided to open a flower shop. Her name is Nancy and she is Tang Kwok-hin's younger sister.

She is also a figment of the artist's imagination.

An only child, Tang, 28, almost had a younger sibling. His mother was pregnant 25 years ago but as the family, from a walled village in Kam Tin, couldn't afford to raise two children, she had an abortion. Today, the family often wonder what life would have been like had the child been born.

"I didn't want a sister when I was a child. I thought we would fight for toys. But now I really want one. I think my life would be different if I were given a sister."

This obsession has led the full-time artist to a series of works that are dedicated to this much-missed yet unknown family member, part of which were showcased at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel during this year's Hong Kong International Art Fair (Art HK). The 18 collages and two videos displayed at the hotel in May will be reinstalled at Amelia Johnson Contemporary in Central for his solo exhibition, which opens on Thursday.

The name Nancy is catchy, Tang says. To start the project, he searched for "Nancy Tang" on Google and gathered a stack of images that he cut out to create a series of two-dimensional collages. From these materials he invented a biography of his virtual sister.

Collage has long been Tang's favourite art form. When studying his master's of fine arts at the Chinese University, he created prints of serene landscapes using labels from wine bottles. He later developed
The Photo Book of Mu Mu Dao, which constructed a fictional yet realistic "Google worldview" out of countless images he found online. It earned Tang the first prize in the Hong Kong Contemporary Art Biennial Awards 2009.

As Tang explains, collage is about taking things out of context and reassembling them to generate new meanings. "I like to break the logical relations between things, in order to reconstruct a new way of understanding, as I think there are many angles to perceive one thing."

Janice Leung

Tue-Sat, 10.30am-6.30pm, Amelia Johnson Contemporary, 6-10 Shin Hing St, Central. Tel: 2548 2286. From Thu to Sept 29