Exhibition: focus on sex in Hong Kong | South China Morning Post
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Exhibition: focus on sex in Hong Kong

How sex has got us vexed

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 May, 2014, 11:59am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 May, 2014, 11:59am

"This show is not trying to make a statement about sex in Hong Kong, it's more about wanting to ignite discussion on the subject," says Cosmin Costinas, director of Para/Site gallery in Sheung Wan. "It lays the foundation for that, while at the same time exploring other related socio-economic issues," he says.

The show Costinas is referring to is "Ten Million Rooms of Yearning. Sex in Hong Kong", which opens on Friday.

While the exhibition features a broad spectrum of international and local artists showing a variety of media, the show's one constant is its focus on the relationship between sex and desire in the context of Hong Kong society and history.

But those expecting the show to shock and titillate will be disappointed. "We're not trying to shock or be provocative, but reveal the many ways sex and desire are manifested, hidden, altered, and replaced by family structures, class, and other elements of Hong Kong life," says Costinas.

The idea for the show came from many sources, he says, including studies that shed an unflattering light on the issue of sex in the city. According to a 2012 Durex survey, Hongkongers ranked third lowest in sexual satisfaction out of 22 locations.

Costinas says it also explores the city's lack of a sexual liberation movement. "Hong Kong is one of the few Chinese societies that hasn't undergone a modern revolution… in fact, it still follows some of the values of morality that are rooted in its colonial past."

The group show also looks at how socio-economic conditions in Hong Kong - including small and cramped living quarters, high population density and a tendency to live with parents - can suppress sexuality and inhibit intimacy and privacy.

This, says Costinas, is juxtaposed with the city's public spaces, which are oversaturated with messages designed to arouse, messages which hold the promise of desire.

There is also a family environment where sexuality is not a priority post-youth, unlike activities like playing video games, activities which are often seen as a substitute for human interaction.

Artists exhibiting include Cao Fei, Richard Fung, Hou Chun-ming, William E. Jones, Yayoi Kusama, and Nguyen Tan Hoang.

To illustrate the city's diverse landscape, the show is being held in five venues across the city, from the Para/Site Gallery to the Sheung Wan Civic Centre Exhibition Hall.

"All five spaces are very different and located in different parts of the city, so the audience gets the big picture. It also involves a variety of media, including painting, videos, installations and sculpture," says Costinas.

"Our intention is to offer a compelling narrative and I think we do just that."

May 9-August 10, Para/Site, G/F, 4 Po Yan Street, Sheung Wan. Inquiries: 2517 4620


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