WHEN the Fringe Festival holds its annual press conference in December, local art hacks are obliged to pin on a badge saying press and stand there while the festival's participants prod you with press releases. Most are very eager for publicity, but hard-pressed to encapsulate their work in snappy sentences. Few have ever managed to catch my attention as instantly as artist Chan Kai-yin. So much art is crap that it is refreshing to meet someone who thinks crap is art. Chan's exhibition Physiological Excretion; Psychological Excretion is a series devoted to his full toilet bowl - bowel movements in lurid, very un-lifelike (I hope) colours, with titles such as 3.27pm, 24 May 1995. Actually once you get over the shock, they are almost attractive paintings. All are based on Chan's own originals: I know, he showed me a book full of preliminary sketches. His inspiration was apparently the myth of Sisyphus, doomed to forever push a huge rock to the top of a hill. For Chan, the whole in, out, eating, defecating thing is much the same - a lot of effort, for nothing. The show opens on January 11 in the APA Atrium. I can't say I exactly recommend it, but at least it's something that's really different. The Three Tenors' CDs, videos, T-Shirts and everything else were such a marvellous marketing idea that inevitably there have been imitations. Here in Hong Kong we've had the Three Chinese Tenors, not just once but twice - that's six Chinese tenors altogether. In July we heard pugnacious William Siu, photogenic Warren Mok, and Malaysian Chin Yong doing the usual hits and more. On December 22, the rival team, mainlanders Zhou Hao, Kun Xie and Xing Wei-li, who all live and trained in Australia, are doing a batch of catchy stuff including of course, Nessun Dorma. It can only be a matter of time before we get the six Chinese tenors' coffee mugs on sale at the Cultural Centre. In contrast to all this gimmickry, other worldly local artist Irene Chou's works are on show for another nine days at the Cat Street Galleries. This show, The Cosmic Vision of Zhou Lyun, features later works, abstract, swirling ink paintings with titles such as Perpetual Motion and Time and Space. For Europeans, portraying anything in China before the arrival of photography was often left to liars with big imaginations and a good library. Whether or not Marco Polo ever left the shores of Italy is still, 700 years later, a hot topic among academics (why did he never mention foot-binding, they wonder). But for sure The Travels of Sir John Mandeville (1499) was one of the biggest hoaxes of literary history. Photographs came into China at about the same time as Hong Kong was being filled in with a pink dot on the British colonial map: they played an important role in demystifying Asia for Europeans. But now, looking at the catalogue for a conveniently pre-Christmas exhibition of old China and Hong Kong photographs, the images have an air of unreality. It is almost as strange to see Hong Kong without its reclamation as to imagine any magical mountain invented by bad Sir John. The exhibition, presented by Charlotte Horstman and Gerald Godfrey Ltd, runs until Friday at the Mandarin Oriental.