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‘Social Fabric: New Work by Mariana Hahn and Kwan Sheung Chi’

  • The Annex 2/F, Nan Fung Place, 173 Des Voeux Road C Central, Hong Kong (map)

Monday to Saturday 11am – 7pm
Closed on Sunday and public holidays except 03.25 - 03.28

This exhibition presents new work by two young artists who in their very different ways have responded to the history, culture and current social fabric of Hong Kong. 

Mariana Hahn (born Germany, 1985) has, in her previous performances and installations, engaged with both archetypical and local legends by weaving a common female mythology between them that enters into dialogue with the present. Her work shown here is the result of a residency last year in which she began to research the Zishunü(自梳女), the so-called 'self-wedded woman' silk workers of the Pearl River delta, who chose to retain their independence by refusing to marry. Some had fled to Hong Kong in the 1940s, and two were rumoured to still live on Lantau. Hahn went there to see what traces she could find, happening also to meet one of the last of the old ‘Tanka’(蜑家) Boat Dwellers who fish from the island. Her work - objects, drawings and videos - brings together the stories and crafts of these people with a current state of amnesia and carelessness.  They are forbidden to work beyond the threatening pylons of the Hong Kong-Macau Bridge and the waters surrounding Lantau have become so polluted that fishermen are no longer able to catch enough fish. Crafts, memories and human values are irrevocably lost in a mindless march of progress.

Kwan Sheung Chi (born Hong Kong 1980), an artist who confesses to ‘taking pleasure in thwarting people expectations,’ has over the past twelve years become established as one of the leading conceptual artists in Hong Kong. His varied and prolific work takes little for granted in that it questions not only the social and aesthetic ‘use’ of art in general, but also its relevance to and position in the local culture of materialism. With deadpan irony verging on absurdity, that punctures any pretension towards ‘great art,’ he struggles to devise work that is ‘necessary’ in the sense that it adds positively to common experience by providing clear and truthful perspectives. Other than a typically sardonic view of the vicissitudes of daily life, covered extensively in such performances as Everything Goes Wrong for the Poor Couple (2010), a five day closed event with live relay by video, he has also focussed on the question of Hong Kong’s culture, identity and future, as in A Flag-Raising-Lowering Ceremony on my Home’s Drying Rack (2007), a work that coincided with the 10th anniversary of the Handover. The large installation and other works he has made for this exhibition topic deal with the same subject, but within in the fluid and uncertain context of Hong Kong today.

David Elliott, Curator

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