Before the Rain
SYDNEY. 21 JANUARY – 19 MARCH 2017.
Luke Ching, Liu Ding, Yuan Goang-Ming, James Kong, Tang Kwok Hin, Sarah Lai, Swing Lam, Ellen Pau and Sampson Wong.
Before the onset of a downpour there is a moment of heavy humidity that hangs low in the air. Building over time it signals the inevitability of a deluge that will interrupt and intercept patterns of normality. For Hong Kong, a city defined by humidity, the deluge that began on September 28 2014 was the result of a long and steady buildup of uncertainty, anxiety and the long held need to articulate a cohesive identity for the city. Before the Rain addresses the tensions that precipitated the recent political and civil urgency in Hong Kong and the city’s pressing need to reimagine its future.
The exhibiting artists frame the conversation from a multiplicity of perspectives presenting the complexity and concerns of a city facing a future planned by others. They approach the city with an intent to protect it; their works may appear as warnings but they are underpinned by a need to safeguard. Commissioned for the exhibition is a new work by Sampson Wong that transforms the entrance gallery into a narration of the Umbrella Movement. Ephemera taken from the streets, continuous loops of CCTV and news footage, blogs, tweets and newspapers will populate the gallery inviting the viewer to sift through the materials and navigate their own opinion of a city in flux. Before the Rain responds to a continuously evolving discourse, proving to be one of the most critical events in South East Asia’s recent history.
About the artists:
Luke Ching Chin-wai (b.1972, Hong Kong; lives in Hong Kong) is an inter-disciplinary artist creating multimedia installations in which traditional and new media coexist in an imperfect balance. His work identifies and attempts to deconstruct the changer urban landscapes of his home city as emblematic of Hong Kong’s pluralist history as one location caught between the eastern and western hemispheres. Ching has held a number of solo exhibitions including Screensaver (2014), Gallery EXIT, Hong Kong; as park of the Folk Art Series (2008), Blackburn Museum & Art Gallery, Blackburn, England; and 2 in 1 (2007), Hong Kong Visual Art Centre, Hong Kong. He has participated in group exhibitions not limited to Ceramics Show by Non-ceramics Artist (2015), 1a space, Hong Kong; The Invisible Hand: Curating as Gesture (2014), CAFAM Biennage, Beijing, China; The Problem of Asia (2010), Chalk Horse, Sydney; and the Hong Kong Art Biennial Exhibition 2005 (2005), Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong. Since completing his Master of Fine Art in 1998 at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Luke Ching has received awards both in Hong Kong and abroad while undertaking residencies internationally in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Japan.
James Kong (b. 1985, Hong Kong; Lives and works in Hong Kong) graduated with a Bachelor of Science at the School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong. Since then, as an Interactive Media Engineer he dedicates his creative work to explore human-computer interaction and the application of multimedia techniques to theatrical environments. He also explores the possibilities of computational media in the arts. James has exhibitied at Exim Macau (2015) and the IFVA awards new media exhibition (2014).
Sarah Lai Cheuk Wah (b. 1983, Hong Kong; lives in Hong Kong) is a painter concerned with beautifying and capturing the aura of the mundane. Her subjects are often highly familiar objects or environments detached from the humdrum of everyday life, deprived of their utilitarian functions, allowing the artist to subtly abstract the concepts of form and function as relics of contemporary commodity culture. A recent Master of Fine Arts graduate from The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Lai has consistently held solo exhibitions in Hong Kong including Unsettled Heart (2016), The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Kong Kong; In Stasis (2015), Art Basel Hong Kong, Para Site, Hong Kong; and Safety Island (2013), Gallery EXIT, Hong Kong. Her works are collected internationally after participating in group exhibitions internationally, such as The 2nd CAFAM Future Exhibition (2015), CAFA Art Museum, Beijing, China; I submit to the wisdom of the body (2015), Silverlens Gallery, Manila, Philippines; The Hong Kong International Art Fair (2013), Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Hong Kong; and the Sovereign Art Prize (2010), ARTSPACE at Helutrans, Singapore.
Ellen Pau (b. Hong Kong; lives in Hong Kong) made her first super-8 film in 1984. Being a self-taught artist, she worked as a MTV director, cinematographer, video artist, curator, educator and arts administrator. Pau started her international career in 1995 at the Kwangiu Biennale in Korea, curated by Kim Hon-Yee and Nam-June Paik. She is the co-founder and artistic director for the media art organisation Videotage, and a member and curator of the organizing committee for the Microwave International Media Art Festival, Hong Kong since 1996. A radiographer by profession, Pau teaches part-time in Hong Kong University, Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, as well as being a full time medical image technologist. Pau is advisor to the HK Museum of Art, the HK Art Development Council and a number of festivals.
Sampson Wong (b. 1985, Hong Kong; lives in Hong Kong) is an artist, independent curator, academic and urbanist from Hong Kong. He engages in art-making, curatorial practice, teaching, research and writing, and see them as intellectual means exploring issues about urbanism, space, power and freedom. His research interests also include politics of epidemics and Hong Kong studies. He is now writing books about plagues in Hong Kong, urbanism and art, and Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement. His writings often appear in the Stand News and Mingpao (Sunday Life). Recent projects in 2016 include From 60 seconds to 2047, Countdown Machine and Land Visions: In Search of Land Art in Hong Kong. He also curated 2nd emptyscape art festival: Beyond the Village School 2016, Studio in-Situ – Assembling! 2016, and Affordable Art Basel! In 2015. He received his Ph.D in Urban Studies & Geography at the University of Manchester in 2014.
Yuan Goang-Ming (b. 1965, Taipei, Taiwan; lives in Taipei) is one of the foremost Taiwanese artists of media art, and has been a pioneer of video art in Taiwan, a medium in which he started working in 1986. In 1997, he received a Master’s degree in media art from the Academy of Design, Karlsruhe. Combining symbolic metaphors with technological media, his work eloquently expresses the state of contemporary existence and profoundly explores the human mind and consciousness. Yuan has been the recipient of many awards, including the Jury Prize of the first Art Future 2000 by the Acer Digital Art Center. His works, ranging from photographs to multi-media installations, have been exhibited worldwide, including at the Taiwan Pavilion at the 50th Venice Biennale (2003). Recent solo exhibitions include BEFORE MEMORY (2011, TKG+, Taipei), and DISAPEARINGTRACES (2011, TKG+, Beijing).
Swing Lam (b.1986, Hong Kong) specialises in various art forms, including painting, performance art, temporary architecture research and is involved in cultural and urban sketching studies. He writes arts and cultural columns for Ming Pao and Stand News amongst others. He earned a bachelor degree of Visual Arts in HKBU and a MA intercultural studies in CUHK and is one of the fotanian artists concentrated on drawing, painting and happenings. Swing started the project Flaneur 11 on 2012 spring; a project of waking across 10 cities over the world. Swing showed his project in Atelier Muji gallery as his first solo exhibition in spring 2013. RTHK also made a documentary of his work in January 2013. In 2014, he developed a facebook page to introduce and study some of the featured architecture, tools and creations found. It helped the public look into the temporary facilities from an artistic point of view. In the project Swing embraced his experience of walking through cities and his interaction with the public in this public space. Currently, Swing is working as a Lecturer in Lingnan University Community college for Art and design courses.
All images: Document Photography
Centre: Umbrella Movement (2017), installation view, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Dimensions variable. Courtesy the
artist. Image: Document Photography. Walls: Swing Lam, Temporary structure research in Umbrella Revolution 2014-2016 (2016),
installation view, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, works on paper. Courtesy the artist.
Swing Lam, Temporary structure research in Umbrella Revolution 2014-2016 (2016), works on paper. Installation view, detail.
4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy the artist.
Clockwise from left: Ellen Pau, Diverson (1990), single-channel video, 5:30. Installation view, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian
Art. Liu Ding, A Sentence, (2016), poem, installation view, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Sarah Lai, Rub it until it is removed
(2015) single-channel HD video, 5:40, installation view, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Sarah Lai, Polish your own shoe
as long as you can (2015), single-channel HD video, 11:11, installation view, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Sarah Lai,
Demarcated area (2017), performance with installation. Dimensions variable, installation view, 4A Centre for Contemporary
Asian Art. Luke Ching, 150 Lost Items (2014), mixed media, installation view. All courtesy the artists.
Luke Ching, 150 Lost Items (2014), mixed media, detail installation view, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy the artist.
Left: Yuan Goang-Ming, The 561st Hour of Occupation (2014), installation view, single-channel video. Courtesy the artist.
Right: Reproduced items and image from The Umbrella Movement Visual Archive, (2014), installation view, 4A Centre for
Contemporary Asian Art.
Reproduction items and image from The Umbrella Movement Visual Archive, (2014), installation view (detail), 4A Centre for
Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy the Umbrella Movement Visual Archive.
Real and reproduced protest posters from The Umbrella Movement Visual Archive, (2014), installation view, detail, 4A Centre
for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy the Umbrella Movement Visual Archive.