Response Exhibitions

Hong Kong Diary2/2

Response Exhibitions of the 53rd Venice Biennale Hong Kong Exhibition 2/2


Exhibition Period     : 12 June 2010 – 1 August 2010

Exhibition Venue     : Foyer of the Hong Kong Museum of Art

                                 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Opening Hours        : Daily 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

                                  Saturdays 10:00 am to 8:00 pm 

                                  Closed on Thursdays (except public holidays)

Presenters               : Hong Kong Arts Development Council

                                  Leisure and Cultural Services Department

Organizers               : Para/Site Art Space

                                   Hong Kong Museum of Art 

Supported by            : K11
Special Thanks to     : Sunday Life MingPao


From One Venice to Half Hong Kong, Half Guangzhou

About the 53rd Venice Biennale (Hong Kong Exhibition) and Response Exhibitions


“Miracles” can be made.

Pak Sheung Chuen, 2005


Making (Perfect) World at the Hong Kong Exhibition

The 53rd Venice Biennale



Setting out on a journey with the horizon of the Victoria Harbour, building a mountain with body and soul, breathing in a houseful of air - this is the perfect world according to Pak Sheung Chuen. Under the curatorship of Tobias Berger in association with Para/Site Art Space, the Hong Kong Arts Development Council organised at the world renowned visual arts exhibition – 53rd Venice Biennale (Visual Arts) an exhibition, Making (Perfect) World: Harbour, Hong Kong, Alienated Cities and Dreams, offering a comprehensive showcase of artist Pak Sheung Chuen's body of work dating from 2003.


In contemplating the theme of the 53rd Venice Biennale – Making World, Pak Sheung Chuen asked himself the question: What kind of world to make? While human beings cannot artificially create time and space that make up our universe, there are infinite ways to experience time and space. In whipping up his recipe for a perfect world, Pak applied the simplest of methods to accentuate the significance and function of the most nitty-gritty details, often drawing inspiration from ordinary day-to-day life. The resulting work offers all-encompassing mix of favours in life, from the behavioral to the cognitive and issues ranging from social, through political, religious to human and romantic love. Pak's conceptual works of art has always embodied the attitude of life as playful, creative expressions. These simple games are made within the rules, easy to play and never forceful or fanfare-like; lyrically poetic and pleasantly humorous, these games bring subtle changes to the objective realities, and perhaps most importantly, a sense of order and direction to the artist himself, savoring him the depiction of the abstract concept of time and forging bonds between people, the body and the environment. In short, a sanctuary for the artist's soul.


For conceptual art, the method of presentation is often an enduring question. Conceived and executed with a bilinear design, Pak's works at the Venice Biennale have a dual nature: first, to display the concept, structure and messages of the works as they are; second, to offer the best viewing experience possible for the viewer by taking the location and surroundings of the works to the next creative level. Therefore, every exhibit is a work of site-specific art through the eyes of the artist. Besides accommodating exhibits constructed in situ (Half Soul, Half Body and Travelling Venice in the Dark), the exhibition was also specially designed to allow for blank spaces. In order to highlight the visual aspects of the works, the method of display and textual illustrations were kept to the absolute minimal; at the same time, geometric patterns were used to give an orderly, architectural coherence to the overall viewing experience.



Response Exhibition 1/2: A Travel without Visual Experience

Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou


While Making (Perfect) World is a comprehensive retrospective on Pak Sheung Chuen to date, the two-part, two-city response exhibitions shed new light on the duality of the original work by offering the audiences of Guangzhou and Hong Kong a reassembled view of the original works. The first part of the response exhibition, entitled A Travel Without Visual Experience, was held at the Guangdong Museum of Art between March and April 2010. Featuring works the artist created during his travels, the exhibit explores an individual's imagination and response to the sense of strangeness and disorientation in a foreign land. In praise of self-imposed exile, the artist explains: the first travellers were pilgrims moved by religious purposes, undertaking treacherous journeys to sacred sites as a test of will and endurance, during which they purged their mind of earthly concerns and sought serenity and oneness with spirituality. Sharing their belief in goodness, the artist too sets out with dreams and visions of beautiful landscapes that will come his way and the many ideas sparked off by the journey. Valley Trips (Toyko) and Travelling Venice in the Dark, among other works, are vivid accounts of the pilgrimage.


The exhibition takes the viewer through a journey of 'Day' (Travel) and 'Night' (A Travel without Visual Experience). It begins with a choice of two entrances: Documenting the artist's 'blindfolded' adventures in Malaysia, 'Night' creates an experience of an imagined distance and time differences for the eye and body. Upon entering the pitch-dark exhibition, the viewer must use the flash in his accompanying camera to cast split seconds of light to illuminate images on the wall and other visitors in the dark.


'Day' is an extraordinary journal that chronicles the artist's explorations and discoveries during his travels in New York, Busan and Tokyo. The common thread of the horizon binds the different episodes together: The Horizon Placed at Home extends from the Victoria Harbour to the Busan seaside, where the artist and his wife had snapshots taken by beach-frolickers with horizons high and low in the background. The snaps were then aligned to form About the Curve of the Horizon before being reworked into the circular 'negative space' of the ocean in Measuring the Size of the Sea Storing in a Library, an installation created on-site at the Ottendorfer Branch Public Library, New York.



Response Exhibition 2/2: Hong Kong Diary

Hong Kong Museum of Art 



If travelling is extraordinary and wondrous, then everyday life is familiar and humdrum. For an artist who knows his native city like the back of his hand, the lost of oneself is in the result of familiarity rather than strangeness. Held at the Hong Kong Museum of Art, the second part of the response exhibition focuses on the artist's works created locally. Hong Kong Diary selects elements radically different from the Venice and Guangzhou shows: rather than finished works, the show enables the viewer to explore the fringes of the creative process; the exhibits are intended as evidences and not works of art. 'Artwork is not in Art Museum,' Pak declares. For an artist who is concerned with people and the ways of art over objects and finished works, the creative process is a spiritual devotion of integrating art with the self.


Here, the works of Pak Sheung Chuen is presented in a range of media. From newspaper to books and exhibitions, it's a feast that has something for everyone: casual and serious readers, ardent art lovers and culture vultures. Truth be told, traditional museum is never the best way to show Pak's works. In order to break free from these constraints, the Hong Kong response exhibition uses documentaries as a way to showcase his art, including all his contributions to the 'Sunday Life' supplement of Ming Pao published between 2003 and 2010. This collection bears the mark of an artist who works with poetic adroitness and sophisticated grasp of city life. Also noteworthy is the pioneering efforts of the newspaper in establishing a new platform for showing and understanding artists' works in a novel way; better still, there are many possibilities yet to be explored. In addition to textual presentations, commentaries narrated by Pak himself and clips of his appearances on television bring viewers up-close-and-personal with the stories behind the works and the artist himself. The foyer of the Hong Kong Museum of Art provides the perfect lounge setting for Hong Kong Diary, where people read the papers, watch the television, do puzzles, play or simply relax. Periodic workshops hosted by the artist are designed to encourage visitors to explore and experience fun in life and in art.


Every thought and act of Pak Sheung Chuen is a site- and time-specific memento that culminates in his perfect world. The artist has demonstrated that art and life is at one with each other; his works put the focus back to the enormous power of free imagination, however trivial and fleeting. Next time when a quick hunch or caprice springs up in our mind, according to the artist, it could be the beginning of a miracle…

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