Tuesday, August 6, 2013

REVIEW: Sunday Lai in BOING!!

Osage Kwun Tong, 27 – 28 July, 3 – 4 August, 10 – 11 August (5-10 pm)

BOING!! is a weekend pop-up night market in Osage Kwun Tong Gallery. It basically showcases 50 art students, young artists and art collectives. The theme was indeed "night market" and not only did the artists exhibit their works, they can also sell them. So far, I have been to two of three weekend night market already and I am most thrilled to report that there were some fabulous works on display.

Totally new, yet most refreshing to me was the work of Sunday Lai Long-Sang, a graduate from the Academy of Visual Arts, Hong Kong Baptist University (2009). Her work Pawning Painting and Gold Ring is a process and transaction driven work. At its most fundamental, Sunday was selling a video, a video of her pawning a gold ring and also 4 paintings by her. The video shows the transaction, the valuation and the exchanges of values. However, the work is actually way bigger than the video itself. In fact, I am not even so sure whether the work is already finished or not... perhaps I, myself is part of the work! Let me explain.

Showing Pawning Oil Painting and Gold Ring
 
"NOT in stock in HMV" sign in reference to the DVD for sale

The whole project or work started with Sunday being able to sell her paintings in a Taiwan art fair at the start of the year. Back in Hong Kong, she then started questioning the value of her paintings, a question that we all know is very subjective yet paramount in the world of art. In her valuation process, she decided to follow-up the value change of her paintings by benchmarking them against a gold ring by pawning them. She then video-taped the whole transaction.



Watching the transaction is like watching a movie one knows already how it will end; and in this case, one knows that the pawn shop will not accept the paintings. BUT STILL, when the words "They are not worth any value!" is said, emotions are triggered. The composition of the protagonist looking up to the person who puts value on the item made the imagery even more compelling; almost like a criminal waiting for the judge's verdict in a courtroom. In the video, two transactions were made, one gold ring for HK$600 and another one for HK$1000. What is unknown to the audience but revealed by the artist later was that the cheaper ring was actually given to her by her mom, while the more expensive one was bought by her. This information, meanwhile, introduced a different valuation of the rings. When she broached the topic of selling the entire work, she raised the concern of giving up (or even worse, selling) the ring that her mom gave her. Whether this was part of the "act" or not, the dilemma and the question of value was somehow transferred to me, the buyer. Is the cheaper ring indeed really cheaper?
Oil Painting No. 1
 
Oil Painting No. 2
 
Oil Painting No. 3
 
Oil Painting No. 4

I first saw the exhibit on the 27th of August. I informed Sunday of my interest in buying the entire work. She asked me to make an offer but I didn't. Instead, I asked her to make me an offer. Despite my agreement to her offer, she then informed me that she would prefer to check out what will "transpire" during the rest of the exhibition period. Should I feel offended? I would normally... but somehow, I do really like the work and I feel that this whole transaction process is part of the work itself! Instead, I asked her when she will be able to make a decision, and the reply was, "middle of the week".

Receipt for Gold Ring No. 1 (HK$600)
 
Receipt for Gold Ring No. 1 (HK$1000)

"Middle of the week" came and she sms-ed me that her show will be extended to the following weekend; and if it is okay that she will reply to me the Monday after the weekend. I suppose I have no choice, but to wait... The reality is that I am aware of at least two other collectors who have offered to buy the work... what are my chances? Monday came and the price has doubled... and at the end, we met in the middle. I can't help but feel that I am part of the work... maybe I should print out and frame the entire sms exchange! In conclusion, it is a brilliant work from a very young artist; and I am looking forward to seeing (or experiencing) more of her works.

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Check out Sunday's older work: Living in the Scene = 生活場景 video (2009)

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Monday, August 5, 2013

REVIEW: Cold Ears Factory in BOING!!

Osage Kwun Tong, 27 – 28 July, 3 – 4 August, 10 – 11 August (5-10 pm)

BOING!! is a weekend pop-up night market in Osage Kwun Tong Gallery. It basically showcases 50 art students, young artists and art collectives. The theme was indeed "night market" and not only did the artists exhibit their works, they can also sell them. So far, I have been to two of three weekend night market already and I am most thrilled to report that there were some fabulous works on display.


One of the highlights for me was to find COLD EARS FACTORY (耳製涼房) there. I am a big fan of their works! Cold Ear is basically composed of two very talented artists: Eastman Cheng Shuk-Yee (鄭淑宜) and Joey Leung Ka-Yin (梁嘉賢). They both have exhibited on their own; but they also collaborate with each other and when they do, they use the name Cold Ear Factory. The name does stands out and when I asked about the origin of it, Eastman explained that it is a translation of the Chinese name 耳製涼房. 耳製 being basically what the name "Eastman" sounds like when Chinese people pronounce it, while 涼 sounds like the family name of Joey. 房 is then added in to connotate their working space. Such quirkiness is reflected in both of their works... cute but with a cold dark undertone.

Their exhibition is called "Hard and Soft Sculpture II - 0 - ∞". I believe that it is II, because this is their second collaboration (click here to see some of their previous works) on making Hard and Soft Sculpture (又硬又軟雕塑); while the "0 - ∞" is meant to read ZERO TO INFINITY because what the duo actually presented were unfinished works. The proposition was that they will present the buyer with choices of HARD items (ceramics pieces made by the duo, ready-made plastic figures and vessels made of various materials); and then the buyer will need to pick according to a given formula. Once the HARD choices are made, then Eastman and Joey will collaborate to come up with the SOFT part (textile and foam) to tie in all the different HARD elements together.


The Formula: (A + B + C + D) + Eastman and Joey = SURPRISE! 


Hard Items in A


Hard Items in B


Hard Items in C

Hard Items in D

At first, I was confused with the whole proposition. As much as I want to buy a work, I don't like to buy a surprise! To play safe, I bought one of the available samples.

Available sample of finished work

But GOSH! Am I boring or not? I totally missed the whole concept! It was only after a while that I slowly warmed up to the whole idea. And once I accepted the proposition, it was a lot of fun. I immediately challenged myself to choose the most peculiar combination I can think of and can't wait to see what the duo will come up with. While the final output is very important, the process is equally crucial and I enjoyed every single moment of it. It is the challenge proposed by the artists to challenge them that truly chanllenged me.

 My choices of HARD items
So what will my final Hard and Soft Sculpture looks like? I have no idea, but I will definitely report the result in this blog! So WATCH OUT!

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To know more about the artists, please click below and check out their website:
Eastman Cheng Shuk-Yee (鄭淑宜)
Joey Leung Ka-Yin (梁嘉賢)

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REVIEW: Follies by The Hong Kong Singers


It has come to a point that my review of the shows I have seen are so way overdue that I have no way of fully recovering from it. So here it is, I will just do a quick and more mini than mini review…

Hong Kong Repertory Theatre Black Box, Saturday June 29


I really don't have a lot of good things to say about this production, except that the performers did their darn best for it. Unfortunately, their best were just not good enough to offset the directorial blunders bountifully sprinkled all over the production.

Follies is a difficult musical. It was very brave for The Hong Kong Singers to tackle it, but extremely sad for them to fail so miserably especially when they were doing wonderfully with their last few shows. In the performance I attended, there was a strong likelihood that there were more performers than the audience.

At this point, I have to put forward that I am a HUGE fan of Stephen Sondheim and I am very familiar with this musical. In fact, I think I have all the recordings of it thus I am very critical about people messing with it. Director Clare Stearns is clearly a Sondheim fan. I have seen her Company and A Little Night Music before; and seriously, who in their right mind will want to take on Follies unless one is a fan of Sondheim? Unfortunately, being a fan of Sondheim just doesn't cut it especially with the limitation of resources be it talent, time and/or money. A good example of what this production is based on was immediately revealed on the opening number Beautiful Girls. It was sang "mostly"by the Music Director, Forrest Morr, EXCEPT when it came to hitting the crucial and culminating high notes at the end of the song, somebody else did it for him. WHY? Why cast somebody who can't sing the song completely and properly? Why cheat? The rest of the show was pretty much in the same scale. 

The performers were not too bad except three that I think did a fantastic job of filling the role perfectly: Andy Fullard (Young Ben), Louise Gray (Sandra Crane) and Micha Sparrow (Carlotta Campion).

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Sunday, August 4, 2013

REVIEW: Hairspray by FACE Productions

It has come to a point that my review of the shows I have seen are so way overdue that I have no way of fully recovering from it. So here it is, I will just do a quick and more mini than mini review…

Hong Kong Cultural Centre Studio Theatre, Friday June 28



With amateur theatre, it can get away with a lot of things especially if the material is a musical, a comedy AND performed by young people. Such is the case of Hairspray. I first saw Hairspray in Broadway back in 2004. It was a good and fun musical; and one that at least try to be socially relevant even though that it was set in the 60's.

Overall, I like this production directed by FACE Artistic Director Vincent Warren and actually enjoyed it immensely. It was a very good and tight production for an amateur group. Most of the performers are awkwardly wonderful; and one can understand why each performer was given that certain role. Typical of an amateur production, it is difficult to find the "right" performer, one that can sing, dance, act AND look the part, especially in a story that involved racial distinction of black and white, but this production managed beautifully. Even the adult roles were appropriately cast and I particularly like the juxtaposition of a large Edna Turnblad (Bobby Burns) against a relatively small Wilbur Turnblad (Daniel Cheong).

Amongst the teenage roles, I particularly like Sophia Hotung's Penny Pingleton; her comedic timing was impeccable. Phraveen Arikiah's Seaweed J Stubbs was sleek and believable. Bianca Ka Ying Cheung (Tracy Turnblad), Tony Chun Yam Leung (Link Larkin) and Aisling McDonnell (Amber on Tussle) also turned in very good performances.




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