FUGUE IN THE KEY OF UNDERSTANDING
The exhibition’s main theme is “Understanding” while the form is a “Fugue”. Fugue, in music, is based on a single theme to develop multiple voices or layers. The melodies are very different in each voice but ultimately they create a harmonic resonance. In this exhibition, three curators act like three voices in fugue, elaborating on the theme “Understanding” through their individual curatorial interpretations and choices. Co-curated by Alvis Choi, Michelle Lee, and Wong Wing Fung.
Fiction and Fact
Curated by Alvis Choi
To understand why ‘understanding’ has become the theme for this exhibition, I have to start with the very first question of how we understand our world and ourselves.
In Physics, the laws of thermodynamics govern the emergence and entropy of all beings in our solar system. There is a particular motivational energy that is not governed by this law of Physics. We called this motivation, curiosity. In human history, curiosity has expanded into a universe of cultures, of arts and science. Early museums often displayed their collections in so-called ‘wonder rooms’ or cabinets of curiosities. Today, in the age of hypermodernity which is manifested in a forward-looking commitment to science and knowledge, particularly with regard to the convergence of technology and biology, my exhibition would like to examine how curiosity is leading us in our own understanding.
The Handmaid of the Lord by Australia artist Matt Dabrowski is an interplay of fact and fiction. Living mycelium (a form of mushroom) is placed in the artificial environment of a gallery space that is highly controlled and lit by moonʼs natural cycle emanating from a video animation. The title of the work is a medieval reference to when the Moon is full, the precise moment, which symbolizes fulﬁllment, clarity and justice. The small mushroom city is the biological rationalization of order and the copy cat.
Selected Crop Circles Photographs from Lucy Pringle’s collection (England) has generated a lot of controversy. People argue whether the crop circle, which appear mysteriously in grassy fields, are man-made or created from an unknown divine power, that can bend acres of weeds within a few minutes or even seconds. Lucy Pringle has been following this phenomenon for many years. Her photo collections of crop circles capture some of the most intriguing patterns seen. Most people usually will doubt the authenticity of it if the pattern is something recognizable such as a face or a geometric form. But the scale and the perfect alignment of the stems are evidence that the forms surpass human ability. Believers of an extraterrestrial cause will try to see below the surface and understand the message behind the forms. The faith of believing what you saw and the faith of what you believe in can be challenged in this case.
Distances by Hong Kong artist Chilai Howard Cheng is the fictional space between (a) water drop(s) and its meaning. To completely feel the distance, one has to bend down and come closer to the ground. Each water drop on the tiny screens follows the rule of gravity and the path of the pipe; however, we are not told if each drop on the video is the same drop, and we even question whether it is coming from the same origin and thus following the same path. The artist connects the water drop to China and to Hong Kong, providing a multitude of meanings and relational politics of everyday.
88 Constellations for Wittgenstein (to be played with the Left Hand) is an interactive artwork by Canadian artist David Clark. The piece is a sprawling, non- linear contemplation of the life and work of the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, and consists of 88 interactive ﬂash animations, each corresponding to one of the 88 constellations in the night sky. The viewer is invited to navigate through a maze of interconnecting narratives – moving from association to association – in a way that brings Wittgenstein’s work into conversation with our contemporary digital culture. As a nod to Wittgenstein’s concert pianist brother Paul, who lost his right arm in World War I but continued to perform work for the left hand, the piece invites the viewer to ‘play’ with the collages using the left hand on the computer keyboard. At the centre of piece is the number 88. It is both the number of keys on the conventional piano and the number of constellations in the night sky (as determined by contemporary science). Music and the night sky both seem to stir up the limits of our understanding of existence. The constellations also provided the artist with a structure. The work is like a ‘connect the dots’ portrait of Ludwig Wittgenstein. The artist has drawn the facts of his life together and numbered them but it is up to the audience to connect the dots.
These works by the four different artists give me clues to the narratives of images, the perception of faith and the models of nature and artificiality, but most importantly they help us understand that each individual being, including the smallest mushroom on earth, is a wonder in its own right – a truth of we will understand, if we still have not lost our curiosity towards life.
March 2010, Hong Kong
Opening: Friday 26 March 2010
Exhibition Period: 27 March to 18 April 2010
Venue: Osage Kwun Tong
Para/Site Art Space – Hong Kong Jockey Club curatorial Training Programme is funded by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. The exhibition is supported by Osage Gallery and Hong Kong Arts Development Council.
Public Programme: Curator and Artist Talk on Saturday 27 March, 1:30 pm at Osage Kwun Tong. With the participation of exhibition curators Alvis CHOI, Michelle LEE, WONG Wing Fung and Programme Leader Alvaro Rodriguez Fominaya.