Link to [Re-] Fabrication Website

[Re-]Fabrication (中文版)

[Re-]Fabrication, which focuses on Choi Yan-chi, is another of Para/Site Art Space’s “Hong Kong Artists of the 1980s” research series, after similar projects on Ricky Yeung, May Fung, Oscar Ho and Kurt Chan.

This research-retrospective surveyed the meandering paths Choi Yan-chi has walked through: from painting to the deconstruction of the genre, from the play with material to installation, from photography and video to performance, from the quest for the burden of “Chinese-ness” to the struggle to move into conceptual art… The many trajectories mapped out in Choi’s works and pursuits speak of not only the artist’s soul-searching journey for integration and contextualization in her own art practices, but also, reflexively, the many crises and opportunities emerging in the history of the visual arts in Hong Kong. Other than pure documentation of Choi’s works and writings by and about her, the artist will re-create some of her past works to build a dialogue between the past and the present. [Re-]Fabrication, therefore, replaces conclusive retrospection and, instead, opens up more questions integral to the practice of an artist. Perhaps, ultimately and rather implicitly, the research process, the making of the catalogue, and the negotiation for [re-]fabrication comment on the status quo of art education in the territory.

[Re-]Fabrication at Para/Site will present Choi’s reconstruction and adaptation of her former installation cycles – mainly Drowned (1989-97, I-VI) and Past & Future (1997-8, I-V). One of the key performances in which Choi had participated, Object-activities (1989), will be re-interpreted in video form by a group of students from City University’s School of Creative Media.

According to Choi, both the “Drowned” and “Past & Future” cycles were emblems of heavy emotions; they were born into those days when Hong Kong’s handover as well as the general problems of school education weighed heavily on Choi’s mind. The fish tank in Drowned and the graffiti on school classrooms’ desk-tops were haunting images that were always there around the corner for her. They were images she could not do without and they became the key icons fro many years of creation. In the case of Drowned, Choi was very conscious of the many works she had seen in 1980s, in New York and Taipei, and such as the works of Xu Bing, in which the book was turned into the key metaphor for cultural critique.

In the current versions, Choi decides to step back from those heavy emotions although it has not been entirely easy to do so. For Past & Future, she wants a more light-hearted representation, and therefore include desk-top graffiti works from three different Chinese cities – Beijing, Taipei and Hong Kong. Careful viewers will be able to differentiate the fine thoughts, emotive impulses as well as everyday sentiments, to see how culturally specific they can be.

As for Drowned, the quiet commentary on the comfortable boredom of middle-class suburban life in Toronto (1994), the anxiety invoked in Germany (1993) when comparing HK’s return to China and the collapse of the wall between the East and the West of Berlin, or the switch from water to salad oil in Australia (1993), also a switch from the use of destructive to preserving agent, now becomes a detached contemplation of local journalist Cheung Mei’s reading of these works. Via the process of re-building the fish tank and re-staging the drowning of books (documented on video and on displayed in Para/site’s shop window), Choi contemplates Cheung’s critique of HK intellectuals’ “diving into the depth of water” in the face of social, cultural and political crises.
The great fear and hysteria that generated Object-activities in 1989, now, in this 2006 version, re/sub-titled LOOK, relaxes into the detached boredom of the new generation. Routine playfulness, design-mode visual clarity, independence almost to the degree of indifference…and something unspeakable in the air out there, suggest oppression, discipline and control. Such is the reading of the emotionally heavily charged performance 17 years ago, by these young artists, all in their early 20s, only four years old when the June-Fourth shocked their parents, and who would probably commemorate “July-First” instead.

Choi described the general sentiments of this exhibition as an attempt to get out of the previous “frame” of trauma. The new numbers of the “Drowned” and “Past & Future” cycles need not be read for their continuities with the previous works, but they together form an independent dialogue by sharing the same space of the same exhibition period. From my perspective, they are as much real objects communicating their own physical charm as their token value as “relics” of past trauma declaring their own commemorative value. Here, the notion of the “found object” could be re-considered to contemplate the flip between the ordinariness of everyday life and the exploited value for (anti-)monumental functions.

Lastly, painting, the core of Choi’s body of artistic works, her first training and longest artist practice, should be brought in to gain deeper understanding of the works on display here. Visitors should visit the on-going show for Choi’s painting at 1a, November 1-30. Here at Para/site, we have, on display, Blinking (2006), a duplet made earlier on this year, sitting quietly on the wall among the photo documentation of her other works.

Linda LAI, curator




蔡仞姿將會在「又,物聚」中重創她的《沉溺》(1989-97, I-VI)及《思前想後》(1997-98, I-V)裝置系列。兩個系列作品當年成形時,都帶著沉重悲壯的情感,《沉溺》中的魚缸和《思前想後》中的課室書桌上的塗鴉,是蔡仞姿當時想像世界中的兩個「龐然巨物」,呼之欲出。它們表徵著操控、壓力、教育的虛謊。尤其《沉溺》,浸溺於油中的書籍,是蔡仞姿對八十年代不少的藝術家也以書寓意(包括徐冰、臺灣的胡瑪利)的自覺的回應。


過去的《沉溺》,因應不同場地和語境而重點有別。加拿大時期的(1994 / 多倫多)對近郊的中產生活的單調作出回應,德國柏林的(1993)版本充滿著香港九七回歸與東西柏林復合的連帶想像。到澳洲的時候(1993),水變成了油,從破壞變為保存。今次的《沉溺》,因強調對話,主要是向本地文化評論作者張薇回應文章的一個再現,是退後一步,較冷靜的,透過「做」去揣摩和細味張薇所說的香港知識份子面對危難潛水而逃的深意。



「又,物聚」的研究和創作過程包括一本200多頁的資料集之製作,以資料庫的構想去整理蔡仞姿三十年的創作歷程,Para/Site藝術空間展出的同期,1a 空間(牛棚)會以「迴・顧」作呼應,主要展出蔡仞姿由七十年代至今所創作的繪畫、實驗攝影及部分跨媒體演出的紀錄。在Para/Site的場地,我們就輕輕的擺放了蔡仞姿2006年的一個繪畫新作Blinking,就像在裝置、表演、過往作品的照片記錄群中放進一個新的連接點。