Head of HKSAR . Made in Hong Kong
This group show couldn't have come at a better time. Jointly organised by Project 226, C&G Artpartment and Asian Next-Gen Culture and Economic Institute, 'Head of HKSAR . Made in Hong Kong' takes a collective swipe at the upcoming 'election' of this city's next chief executive, calling it a 'farce', a 'small circle selection' and a 'behind the scene anointment'.
The exhibition is the fourth in a series started in 1996 that questions and satirises the credibility of this process. 'The election of Hong Kong's chief executive has almost no relationship with Hong Kong citizens,' its curatorial statement says. 'The first one in 1997 was elected by 400 election committee members, while the current one, after 15 years, is going to have 1,200 committee members, which is still [a tiny fraction] of Hong Kong's population. As the elected candidate is being 'appointed', the criteria for election is very ambiguous.'
It is on this premise that the 18 participating artists - including Wong Shun-kit, Chow Chun-fai, Law Nga-wing (wen yau), Cheng Yee-man (Ah Gum) and Clara Cheung Ka-lei - offer their own response and critique in works spanning all mediums, from painting to sketches to performance art to installation.
Martin Cheung Chun-yeung's SAR Basketball Court is an interactive piece that invites visitors to try their best shot. But it's practically impossible to get the ball in, given the size of the 'small hoop', which is siu huen tze in Cantonese - or 'small circle'.
The piece wittily reflects the exclusivity of a 'small circle election' that not many people can get into.
Performance artist wen yau turned to the sketching board to produce her latest works: portraits of the first chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, and his successor Donald Tsang Yam-kuen. Her teacher from Beijing came up with a fictitious portrait of the future leader - but all three drawings had been refined, and somewhat glorified, by the teacher, suggesting it's Beijing who will have the final say.
Clara Cheung's Helplessness lets visitors throw small glass milk bottles inside a booth to vent their frustration. The artist has collected at least 200 bottles for her piece, saying that as an ordinary housewife with young children, she has no idea what else to do with them as the government has not come up with a comprehensive recycling policy.
Chu Yiu-wai's Left Right Left likens the government to the swaying dry grass he planted on a movement-sensitive installation: they only stop moving when someone stands directly in front of the work. It's an allegory for how officials will only stop dithering when they are confronted by the people.
Chow Chun-fai presents Tung Chee-hwa: 'To leave is an easy decision' as a piece of advice for the current chief executive candidates. The painting, depicting a weary looking Tung in 2003, carries a quote in Chinese that translates: 'To leave is an easy decision, while it is hard to stay. Courage is necessary.'
This week-long exhibition is more than a political commentary on the race. It's a firm reminder that, despite a lack of a democratic system, this city still has its freedoms of speech and expression.
It's good to see so many artists exercising their rights in this show.
Unit 12, Cattle Depot Artist Village, 63 Ma Tau Kok Road, To Kwa Wan, Kowloon. Inquiries: 2104 3322. Ends Tue