Rental United’s (Stephanie Sin, Damon Tong, Timothy Zau) Performances
約翰百德 (John BATTEN)
at 1:55pm on 11th May 2012
1. Rental United, Performance C, performance outside a Sheung Wan gallery, Hong Kong ArtWalk, 2012. (Photo : Rental United)
2. Post-performance and audience during ArtWalk 2012. (Photo : Rental United)
3. Rental United studio cleaning performance at Fotanian Open Studios, 2012. (Photo : John Batten)
( 中文翻譯請往下看 Please scroll down to read the Chinese translation.)
Rental United is the name of the shared studio in Fotan of artists Stephanie Sin, Damon Tong and Timothy Zau. Each has recently graduated from art school and they are predominantly painters, who have not – yet – received any glossy magazine attention. For the past three years when opening their studio to the public during the yearly Fotanian Open Studios, they have presented a series of performances rather than setting up a studio painting exhibition. In 2011, attired in formal suits and standing statue-like on plinths, the artists silently stood stock-still in daily five-hour long performances over two weekends. It was only later that they realized, to their embarrassment, that British artists Gilbert & George had done similar in their famous (but obviously not known to Rental United) Underneath the Arches living and singing sculptural performances of the early 1970s.
Earlier this year, again dressed in suits but identifying themselves as “hygiene technicians”, Rental United performed a ritualized cleaning of their white studio space in front of an intrigued audience over four days during the 2012 Fotanian open days accompanied by the music of a free-form playing solo guitarist. A few months later, a similar but critically stronger performance, entitled Performance C, was undertaken around Central’s streets during Hong Kong ArtWalk 2012. Unannounced, Rental United appeared outside Central, SOHO and Sheung Wan galleries and thoroughly and obsessively cleaned a gallery’s front windows, leaving an adhered note of job completion (with the sly hope, largely unrealized, of receiving payment for services rendered). This performance elicited different responses from individual galleries: some with surprise and anger – outraged that they had not been asked if their windows could be cleaned, but most appreciated their windows having a good clean; done free and professionally. A lingering reaction for all galleries as Rental United walked to the next gallery location was the decidedly human: “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”
Their participation in these two large public events, allowed Rental United’s performances to be seen by thousands of people, an audience wider and decidedly larger than the tight arts crowd who would have seen their paintings if exhibited in a gallery.
Rental United’s performance debut was initially largely unplanned, but this aspect of their artwork has matured over the last two years and allows them to interact and receive immediate comment from an audience. It is the sort of psychological boost needed when you are generally ignored in an art market that highlights the consciously careful and trite paintings seen in auctions of mainland contemporary art and the varied offerings along the shopping mall-like aisles of another “international” art fair.
數個月後，他們在Hong Kong ArtWalk 2012當晚，在中環的街道上演出，形式同樣，卻更為強烈。 事前並未知會任何畫廊，夾租團便在中上環和蘇豪區一帶的畫廊外現身，徹底而投入地清潔每一間畫廊的櫥窗，完畢後更留下一張「工作完成」的便條，道出惡作劇般、沒可能成真的期望，希望自己的清潔服務能收到工資。