Diverse works reflect humanity's impact on the environment

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 December, 2014, 3:46pm
UPDATED : Monday, 22 December, 2014, 3:46pm

Unseen Existence: Dialogues with the Environment in Contemporary Art

Hong Kong Arts Centre

Until January 15

The entrance to this group exhibition of 12 artists from around the world is a momentary letdown.

Visitors are greeted by a three-channel, 20-minute video by Sutthirat Supaparinya projected onto the back of a mundane, panelled wall with no seating for comfortable viewing.

But overall, the exhibition is a fascinating exploration of humanity's intervention in the environment and, as curator/collector Rudy Tseng says, it considers nature's overlooked "resources, such as the sounds, the lights and the breezes in our daily lives".

Yuko Mohri from Japan uses found and ready-made objects in her Urban Mining series to create miniature landscapes of haphazardly placed cars, streetlights (below) and railway carriages. These are irregularly lit, but only when the attached dangling wire connections create an electric circuit as a random breeze brings them into contact with each other.

Mohri's constructions are austere, but she shows that, despite Japan's devastating 2011 Tohoku earthquake, better recycling of objects and use of wind and water can bring sustainable renewal.

Hong Kong artist Nadim Abbas exhibits 56 large custom-made plastic containers moulded into the identical shape of a typical Hong Kong housing estate building. Inside each container can be seen the waste collected during this exhibition's installation.

Four automatic, self-charging vacuum cleaners scurry in between the rows, cleaning the carpet. Abbas highlights consumption and the need to horde, but imposed within a must-be-clean environment.

Exemplary Taiwanese artist Yao Jui-chung shows a series of black-and-white photos of abandoned buildings across the island. These sets of similar "derelict" structures give a nuanced alternative understanding of Taiwan.

Similarly, the momentary fragility of life is captured in Jiang Zhi's photographs of flowers doused with alcohol and set alight. The moment of fire enveloping the flower gives a halo of colour.

This is a diverse exhibition that engages the public with thoughtful artwork around environmental issues.