Hong Kong Artists Reassembling parts of Hong Kong in a Garage

Illuminating the beginning of Staunton Street with a kind of nostalgic glow, the exhibition “My Light,My Hood” curated by Ceekayello is hard to miss in the hustle and bustle of SoHo.  Discreetly chosen to open in a former garage Kong Space, the group exhibition presents creative works of six artists of various artistic disciplines and their collective risk-taking spirit and aptitude to incorporate their newly acquired skills of neon light making into their arts, with the aim of taking viewers on a ride around places in Hong Kong that hold dear to the hearts of the artists, at the same time preserving the neon light culture of the city.

At the entrance of the exhibition is the skyline of Hong Kong shaped by colorful neon lights, it is the work of neon light old master Wong, who has passed on years of his skill and knowledge to the participating young artists.  The neon lights emit a paradoxical radiance that on one hand they trace the city’s iconic skyline and its incredible history of rapid development, and on the other hand shed light on the gradual disappearance of the neon light culture of Hong Kong.  

Courtesy of Ceekayello

The dichotomy of gain and loss, construction and destruction, resonates throughout the exhibition.  Hand embroidery artist @quiettomymess’ interactive embroidery installation has a witty title that plays on the similar sound of “tree” in Chinese and the interjection “Shhh”, and yet provokes a profound reflection on our relationship with nature when viewers are asked to stay quiet (Shhh!) and hold hands in order to light up the neon light leaves weaved in the work.  Installed with fallen branches collected in the artist’s most familiar neighborhoods, the work is the artist’s effort to call on community effort to listen to what the nature has to say and rebuild our beautiful neighborhood after the mass destruction caused by super typhoon Mangkhut.  Artist duo Rehyphenate have witnessed the transformation of Sai Ying Pun since the opening of MTR station in the neighborhood, the benefits of convenience and prosperity inevitably loosened up the close tie and harmony the community used to savor.  Recreating the spot for books swapping which was common in the old time, the work “A Stop for Your Book” takes us back to the time where life was tranquil and simple. 

The subject of finding peace and tranquility in this concrete jungle is also manifested in the works of artists Daniel Kamp and Frédéric Bussière.  Kamp’s sculpture “The Place Between” is composed of contrasting elements of shape, texture and space.  Representing the vibrancy of Hong Kong city life, the neon lights are placed in between architectural stainless steel structures that suggest the skyscrapers in Hong Kong, surprisingly evoking a sense of ethereal stillness.  This calmness and lightness are grounded by the bedrocks at the base, implying it is the gift of nature.  Set against the background of Yuen Long Wetlands, Bussière’s lithograph, “The Sleeper in the Vale”, is a narrative of an android being murdered on a peaceful land surrounded by a city, juxtaposing the robotic lifestyle and ephemeral of modernity with the balance and eternity of nature.

Felix Chan’s “Dance of the Chinese Unicorn” and Rosetta Heung’s “Night Lights” are love letters to the neighborhoods in which they grew up.  Positioned beside each other, Chan’s colorful unicorn, a mascot in traditional Hakka culture, and Heung’s silhouette of Hong Kong high-rise inform the diversity of this multifaceted city.  

Together these artists have assembled not only their creativity and sentiments towards different parts of Hong Kong in a garage, but also our collective memory of Hong Kong culture and heritage.  With community effort, the “light” of our “hood”will continue to glow.

My Light My Hoodruns from December 3, 2018 to January 14, 2019 at Kong Art Space, 3 Staunton Street, Central, Hong Kong.