1+1: A Cross-Strait-Four-Regions Artistic Exchange Project
約翰百德 (John BATTEN)
at 11:05pm on 9th June 2011
(原文以英文發表，評論《1+1：兩岸四地藝術交流計劃 - 中港臺巡迴展覽》。)
This elaborate exhibition of fourteen artists from the mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan at the Hong Kong Arts Centre present a series of paired artistic collaborations, but the premise of bringing artists together based on their geographical, trans-Chinese proximity, is limiting.
Ultimately, as curators Jeff Leung Chin-fung of Hong Kong and Wang Te-yu of Taiwan reiterate, a successful collaboration of visual artists is based, on their “common friendship”. Such collaboration between artists is not new in Hong Kong with the non-profit Para/Site and 1aspace being originally founded in the 1990s by the like-minded collaborative energy between friends.
After an initial meeting in Shenzhen, discussions between Taiwanese artist Ho Ming-kuie and Macau artist and architect Joao o Bruno Soares were conducted digitally with all resulting data stored using cloud-computing technology. Based on these dialogues an elaborate sound installation, a small painting using cork as the base media and a group of engaging mixed-media sculptures depicting sections of landscapes were individually and successfully constructed.
The importance of friendship was reiterated by the failure of the paired artists Zhao Zhao of the mainland - who, incidentally, is a member of Ai Weiwei’s Beijing studio staff - and Shan Kai-ti of Taiwan being unable to bond to produce a collaborative artistic relationship.
However, this failure is a refreshing antidote to the exhibition’s overall, almost-‘happy family-picture perfect’, atmosphere. Zhao’s video of a walk undertaken by the pair in the Forbidden City led by a tour guide, who is the only person depicted, alongside Shan’s gossipy MSN conversation with a friend talking about Zhao and their failure to build a rapport is shown verbatim on a video monitor. Shan’s friend’s dismissive of Zhao wasting money on an expensive tour guide brings a much-needed dose of reality to an exhibition that, when stripped down, depicts the resulting high and lows of people working together.
Exhibition: 1+1: A Cross-Strait-Four-Regions Artistic Exchange Project
Date: 19.5.2011 – 12.6.2011
Venue: Pao Galleries, 4/F & 5/F, Hong Kong Arts Centre
Enquiries: 852 2582 0200
A version of this review was published in the South China Morning Post on 5 June 2011.