This exhibition incorporates a diverse range of creative media, showing the works of eight individual artists. Some of these works are site specific. A parking lot acts as the main body and the artworks are parasites on it – through this temporal relationship the exhibition investigates the notion of power and conditions for co-existence.
‘If You Park Here’ uses a parking lot as the exhibition space. The traditional white slots have been, over the past few years, replaced by non-profit organisations, artist studios, shopping malls and outdoor spaces. The car park, although it only participates in a one-off exhibition, is selected as an alternative space for its public stance, its state of mobility, its characteristics of transparency and the experience that it brings to globalisation. This exhibition may create another kind of attention for local art, which has always been perceived or debated upon as being ‘non-mainstream’ or ‘personal’
Contemporary art has been inscribed with a cross – the centre point holds the horizontal and vertical lines and creates a forward motion. The horizontal line depicts the exhibiting plane, it starts with artists or curators and ends with the audience. The term ‘audience’ of course embraces very broad definitions – it represents any person to art professionals. The vertical line is about professionalism, which includes viewpoints on historical and social contents, and therefore relates to the question of quality and standards. The centre point is one’s expectations and imaginations on art which affects the route of development that art takes on.
Contemporary art in Hong Kong presumes to become international. The other side of the coin of becoming global is to locate local significance. However, amid the collision of globalisation, individualism has become difficult to grasp and has always been taken over by what is typical and the conformed. Power, overtaking expectations, has affected the development of art. There has always been a barrier between Hong Kong artists and the local government or the public. The government has lacked the kind of positive perception towards art and society does not yet have a deeply approving stance about local art. These together with the non-conforming attitude of artists, are not helping to bring art forward to a more visible level or a more internationally acclaimed platform, but rather the opposite.
To study the reasons behind this problem, the cross that we have examined before may have to be reviewed. Art is initiated from different points and these points scatter amongst various places. After they have interchanged and combined, these points form various kinds of patterns. Car parks are similar to these scattered and settled places and people who cluster at this temporal resting space where, through interactions, patterns are formed. Car parks are microcosms of urban life where one might be found wandering, migrating, disintegrating, segregating and simply passing by. They also represent the co-existence of developments in arts and the society.
When parasites enter, the car park becomes the main body where nutrients are supplied. Hence, one may like to view the works in this exhibition in two parts: The first being ‘parasitic parking’ and the second obviously being ‘non-parasitic parking’. The ‘parasitic parking’ works have their own forms and can also integrate into the surroundings to expand. Violet Shum’s stainless steel roses have the potential to invade the space; Tang Ying-mui’s work is already dependent on the environment but still wishes to reach out; Chan Kam-shing, Chris’s crystals begin with the form of a car and slowly crawl outward; Gretchen So has retained as images things that seem to have been left behind in society. The ‘non-parasitic parking’ part is a series of transferring works that originally belonged to other environments. Wong Wo-bik transfers the passing of a life into this temporal gathering place; Margaret Chu installs a compact version of how mice survive onto the direction-signed floor of the parking lot; Tse Kam-wing, Kenneth has enlarged rear mirrors from cars or car parks and then removes their relationships with the space so that these mirrors merely become some tools to reflect on oneself; Ko Tin-yan, Celia opens up the intimate care between generations in her family for discussions in this public space. How should one position the relationships between parasitic/non-parasitic and the main body, or space and humanity, or art and city? Do they destroy each other or do they co-exist? The parasitic stream of works has an invasive potential but this all stems out from the experience of touching and connecting. The non-parasitic stream ends up forming other short term communications by being expelled into spaces that they do not belong to. What grows out of the system ultimately depends on the interaction between human and the environment.
In this exhibition, some works transfer images from videos, while some others emphasise the concept of DIY, making use of easily-found materials. We have not precluded works that are hand-made or which adopt the traditional concepts of painting and drawing. The ideas, process and development of these works are clearly rooted in daily lives. They have also echoed contemporary society’s desire for conformity and a fluid kind of living.
‘If You Park Here ‘invites everyone to pause for a while and to think about what is considered to be truly important in one’s own mind.
Dr. Tang Ying Chi
(Translated by Livia Garcia)