Sunday, March 22, 2015

Hide and Seek at Home

I was invited to join a group show in March by a fellow classmate from the days I was studying for my MFA and it was timed to coincide with the annual Fotanian open studios.
This year every  art event (including Fotanian) seemed to have been moved to March due to the annual ArtBasel Hong Kong which meant that there were far too many events and people had to choose which ones to see. Subsequently many events didn't get the audience they deserved due to the short-sighted nature of the planning. The month was nicknamed 'March madness' and this perfectly described the decision to squeeze 3 months worth of events into a single month.

The unit in which the exhibition would take place had been decorated as a home-style office and so we decided to make use of this unusual environment. The artworks were to be 'hidden' around the 'apartment' and the audience would need to search to find the artworks. I decided to hide my drawings in the base of a fold-down bed and the audience would first need to discover the 'secret' panel that enabled them to open the bed ad finally discover the drawings. As it turned out, the rest of the artworks were not really well hidden at all and I began to wonder if I had made a mistake by following our initial idea so closely when everyone else didn't really hide the work...would the audience actually find my work when everything else was on display and easy to find?

Luckily the audience were curious and members of our group taking turns to be on duty at the exhibition space dropped useful hints.
The Facebook page set up to coincide with the show also allowed us to post photographs that explained where the artworks were located.

I was pleased that two of my students had works in the show: Bernice Yu and Sharon Choi. It's nice to be able to share an event with the students I am teaching, this experience is part of the learning process for them and also for me.

Due to the increased interest, it was decided to extend the show longer than the official Fotanian open studio event.

Follow this link for a blogger's review:

My 'Excavation Drawings'

'Self-Portrait' by Miss Elephant

'Live Long and Prosper' by Alvina Lee

'Mutualism' by Shek Chun-Yin

'The Sunshine in the Rain' by Bernice Yu

'The Dressing Room' by Marsha Roddy

Monday, March 16, 2015

Samuel Beckett at the Hong Kong Arts Festival

As soon as the Festival tickets went on sale I had one goal above all others: to obtain tickets for the Beckett trilogy 'Not I', 'Footfalls' and 'Rockaby' and on 27th February I had the pleasure of experiencing these wonderful late, short plays.

The only one of the three I had 'seen' before was 'Not I' and that was only a grainy Youtube video of Billie Whitelaw performing this strange, obsessive monologue delivered at the speed of thought. Her performance was wonderful but seeing it performed live on stage was quite another experience.

Not only is it demanding in terms of it's sheer intensity, it is also a physical feat of endurance and it is difficult to imagine how someone can master this piece and deliver it non-stop with hardly a pause for breathe.

Standing on a platform 8 feet above the stage and with a single point of light directed at a mouth that seems to float in an empty black volume of space there are no distractions, no embellishments, nothing but this breathless, desperate cry into the void. During the performance the lights are extinguished and even the exit signs are turned off.
The narrowness of the spotlight and the physically demanding nature of the performance meant that the amazing actress Lisa Dwan had her head strapped into a board to prevent the slightest movement and her arms hooked behind bars for extra support. Despite these restraints, I felt for sure that her head was moving from side to side as she performed even though I knew without doubt that it must have been impossible for her to move in this way.

She must have been exhausted afterwards (I certainly was) and yet she shortly reappeared to perform first 'Footfalls' and then 'Rockaby', which are much quieter and softer but which also cry out into the void, into the dark until fate overcomes us. Again Lisa Dwan was faultless.

Leaving the theatre I felt that I had witnessed something I will recall for years to come, a profound work of art written by a genius and performed by an incredible actress.

An introduction to the trilogy at the festival:

Lisa Dwan introducing 'Not I':

Billie Whitelaw's 1973 version of 'Not I':

Photos Courtesy of Hong Kong Arts Festival 2015