Hong Kong Whispers

Thickest Choi, Vangi Fong, Livia Garcia, Annysa Ng, Raymond Wong, Samson Young
20 January 2011 to 26 February 2011

Curated by Anthony Elliott

Hong Kong Whispers is a group exhibition, which addresses the cultural and historical relationship between Hong Kong and the UK. Proposing a definition of an art exhibition analogous to a game of Chinese Whispers. The exhibition explores the miscommunications that happen in cross cultural art exhibition, and attempts to create a space in which meanings can be discussed, debated, and challenged.

For Hong Kong Whispers, Livia Garcia’s she has created portraits of residents in Leeds on the discarded bags filled with the rice, showing how the seemingly passive unconnected identities of communities in the UK and China are connected through global transactions in food production . Continuing the exploration of connected identities, Annysa Ng’s installation uses mirrors to place the viewers in an infinite reflection, whilst caught between two walls covered by silhouetted portraits of women adorned by Tudor and Ancient Chinese costume. Vangi Fong’s photographs of her interventions underneath the flyover roads of Hong Kong draws attention to artistic expressions valued and accepted by the National Gallery in comparison to blanked out expressions of street art. Samson Young’s video of himself touring the luxurious attractions of Hong Kong dressed as a Tele-tubby (significantly a British National), overlaid with Deng Xiaoping’s famous speech ‘Build Socialism with Chinese Characteristics’ creates a humorous yet sinister commentary on the political situation of Hong Kong between two great powers and cultures.

Most overtly political is Thickest Choi’s project linking the communities of Hong Kong and Brixton, through common experience of the Police ‘Stop-and-Search’ policy. This practice, which sparked the Brixton Riots in 1981 on the very road where the exhibition takes place, was also implemented in Hong Kong after Leftist riots in 1967 and continues to be in place. A performance by Raymond Wong in collaboration with Oscar Oldershaw & Joe Campbell will explore personal feelings of being from Hong Kong and living in London. Collaborating with videographers, Wong breaks down the expectation usually placed upon artists not from the UK to represent their foreign culture.

During the exhibition at 198, C&G Artpartment in Hong Kong will also be having a two week exhibition mirroring the London show by showing 10 minute clips of audiences engaging with the artwork in London and asking people to share they’re responses to this online. There will also be panel discussions in both cities where artists, curators, thinkers and audiences interested in these issues will be able to discuss issues raised by the artists in their work.

Hong Kong Whispers is curated by Anthony Elliott, who developed the project from an interest in the continuing issues raised by cultural imperialism, which are being shaped and challenged by new technologies of communication and political movements. The conceptual elements of the project are derived from an anthropological dilemma of how to represent other cultures. But rather than overcome the dilemma, Elliott’s collaboration seeks not to represent culture through exhibition, but make the exhibition an active engaged process of understanding.