Art Central, Hong Kong’s biggest contemporary art fair, presents more than 100 galleries from 21 countries, 70 per cent hailing from greater Asia. Since it’s launch in 2015, Art Central has brought a fresh new dimension of contemporary art to Hong Kong Art week. Art Central 2016 provided a platform for artists to engage with people in fun and unique ways with an astonishing line-up including interactive installations, engaging panel discussions, experimental film and performance art alongside food and drink stalls and DJs.
To ensure people could come on multiple days without getting fed up of seeing the same stuff, the artwork changed every day. So even if you saw everything on the first day, you could still go back and discover new artworks the next.
This global centre has redefined expectations, setting the bar very high with its hard-hitting performance art pieces. One of the most popular ones was an ongoing live performance project by Chang Ting-tong called The Colosseum. The artist enclosed himself in a prison-like cell, spending up to eight hours a day painting the walls inside with messages about the relationship between people, society and science. The audience could see the artist at work, and his messages, through a peephole, where they often spoke to him, and what he drew was often based on suggestions the audience gave him. He teased the famous Japanese artist, Yoshitomo Nara, by doing a play on words with his name, “Mole”shitomo Nara, on the cell wall. The Taiwanese artist also used the audience as a resource; painting things inspired by their words.
Another of Chang’s pieces, titled Robinson, presents a moving mechanical device in the shape of a human-esque, Gollum-like creature. This artwork is an experimental investigation into the relationship between humanity and technology to see whether or not humans are consistently drawn to the latest and newest technology. This experiment clearly worked as numerous individuals were constantly gathered around the self-moving machine.
Something for everyone
Art Central was the place to be in March for art-lovers. As well as showcasing some of Asia’s best contemporary artwork, it was a place that felt alive with the creative essence of people from all around the world. There was something for everyone, with pieces ranging from paintings and sculptures to live shows and animatronics.
Art Central did not just feature works of art; performance art took place at different times and if you were lucky enough, you could even catch the artists themselves.
My personal favourite was a mixed media textile piece called Guardian by Henry Hussey. Hussey’s work draws from his personal experiences, displayed through a combination of colourful imagery and text. His work is emotive and comes across as a visual representation of Hussey’s mind.
I was even lucky enough to catch Latai Taumoepeau’s Beyond the Pale, a live performance about the impact of Western beauty standards on Asian communities.
Art that critised society
Indonesian artist Ichwab Noor’s work should be no-stranger to visitors of Art Central as the artist was featured at Art Central last year, too. The work, entitled Beetle Sphere, looks like a giant metal ball and is actually a car – a 1953 VW beetle to be precise – that has been crushed into a perfect sphere.
The purpose of the piece is to mock the hobby of wealthy people of collecting expensive race cars. Noor teases that if the cars were crushed down to the size of a ball, it would be easier for people to store their collection. Despite the clear jab at society’s richest, Noor’s work was a popular piece with the crowd, as many stopped to admire his work
For those who missed Art Central this year, do not despair. Judging by their success this year, it seems certain that they’ll be back next year with an even better show.