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Gallery Section: Booth 3C09
Wang Wei, Ko Sin Tung, Yuan Yuan, Jeremy Everett, Wong Ping
“In certain almost supernatural inner states, the depth of life is entirely revealedin the spectacle, however ordinary, that we have before our eyes, and which becomes the symbol of it." – Charles Baudelaire (Journaux Intimes, lac. cit., p. 29)
As explained by the 19th century French philosopher Gaston Bachelard, Baudelaire identified how “the exterior spectacle helps intimate grandeur unfold” (Poetics of Space, p. 190-196). Intimacy, as we understand it, from a literary as well as psychological standpoint, is a process of responding to one’s durroundings: a physical, emotional, cognitive and experiential occurrence. How each individual expresses intimacy is dependent upon his or her particular modes of reception as well as environment. Brought together under the thematic of intimacy, Wang Wei (b. 1972, China), Ko Sin Tung (b. 1987, Hong Kong), Yuan Yuan (b. 1972, China), Jeremy Everett (b. 1979, USA) and Wong Ping (b. 1984) each explore through distinct visual languages this ‘process’, exposing its manifold layers, which dependent upon the artist as an individual, stretch from the political, to the domestic, mnemonic and material.
An established Chinese artist, Wang Wei distinguishes himself through his installations; a key figure of the artistic and curatorial 1990s Post-Sensibility Movement, he responds critically to space, using it as a medium to evaluate what is real and natural, a viewpoint that is intimate to him, but to be shared with others. For Historic Residence (2009), for example, Wang Wei built an enlarged replica of Mao Zedong’s personal bathroom – a domestic space, which is itself physically intimate. Through the act of aggrandisement he also questioned, without answering, the political leader’s stature, prompting the viewer to address his demi-God status – the disproportionate space standing as a symbol of Zedong’s potential intimate shortcomings.
Emerging Hong Kong artist Ko Sin Tung picks up on this association between intimacy and the domestic, but takes on a more invasive approach that fleshes out the theme’s sociological associations. In Modern Homes Series, for example, she repeatedly surfed the Internet, collecting images posted by individuals of their treasured home ware. Saved, enlarged till pixelated, printed and then framed, Ko Sing Tung exposes, through a process of appropriation and re-contextualisation, what each individual values within the closeted context of his or her own private dwelling.
Similarly exploring what people value and cherish, but fleshing out the memory-driven element of such associations, established Chinese artist Yuan Yuan creates delicate oil on canvas works that depict the imagined interiors of buildings, as visually and emotionally recalled by himself. For A Little Bit Lonely II (2013), for example, he depicts an elongated, fully-laid, dining table, set amidst an elaborate yet delicate neo-classical interior. Neither obviously set in China nor Europe, the viewer is presented with an amalgamation of Yuan Yuan’s impressions and recollections, which uninhabited recall some distant social associations.
Turning to increasingly introspective reflections on intimacy, emerging American artist Jeremy Everett plays with materials, creating works that evoke intuitive sentiments, such as tenderness and vulnerability. Everett’s Untitled (2013) oil paint on yellow silk work, for example, echoes through its translucid quality and slight physical presence, a certain susceptibility; the white skeletal frame, lightly visible through the delicately stretched fabric, appears to suggest a certain fragility balanced by a discreet support system. As such, Everett’s work whispers to the undercurrents of each individual’s interpretation of intimacy, reflecting how it all starts with an allowance of sentiment. Developing on intimacy’s associations with the bodily as well the notion of sentiment, a video and neon installation by emerging Hong Kong artist Wong Ping will be displayed in a sectioned-off part of the booth. Crossing humorous animation with sculpture, Wong addresses the junctures in human life, especially the daunting, personal topic of physical incapacity and how this impacts individual sexuality. Adding a literal angle to the topic of intimacy, Wong Ping’s work also touches upon the theme’s associations with power and gender roles.
Encounters Section: E1
Tromarama ‘Private Riots’ (2014)
Visual narratives, as communicated by signs, are the cornerstones of contemporary urban communication. Where linguistic terms are oft contained to certain geographical boundaries, signs transcend limitations of exchange. Edouard Malingue Gallery, Hong Kong is thrilled to present in the Encounters section of Art Basel Hong Kong, the major installation ‘Private Riots’ (2014) by the Indonesian collective Tromarama (est. in 2006 in Bandung by Febie Babyrose, Ruddy Hatumena and Herbert Hans). Composed of a flash sequence video, a platform and towering swirl, from floor to ceiling, of seemingly playful protest banners, the monumental creation presents how the trio observe the rapidly evolving urban Asian cultural environment, whilst extrapolating its social, political and visual undercurrents.
Private Riots (2014) presents an interactive and impressive pictorial dialogue surrounding the act of protest and political engagement. The first section resembling a plywood stage rising from the floor, is composed of two propped singular video stands flashing the ‘Private Riots’ film and a circular series of poster banners, stills from the video itself. The second section, a towering chandelier of poster panels hanging from the ceiling, is an incredible structure that stands above the first, a striking metaphor for the height of collective yet individual power.
Reality thus becomes more complex and mixed since the images that emerge are constructed not only by our consciousness of the world, as recalled through our sensory receptors, but also those produced by digital devices. They design and construct our perception, understanding and concepts of the physical and virtual. Our consciousness in knowing the seemingly tangible one from the truly tangible one becomes more exclusive because each person has a greater number of different experiences. It means a more subtle border is drawn between our current reality. The physical and the virtual co-exist. They are interacting and transversing in various forms.
Colourful, engaging and pictorially naïve, the lightly dangling spiral hardly seems associable with weighty political commentary. This contrast, however, between form and content, resounds throughout Tromarama’s work. Indeed, play, in the sense of ‘fresh, intriguing and humorous’1 pulsates through their practice, which combines video art with new music and installation. Private Riots in particular though, introduces a political leaning yet does so in a manner that invites rather than threatens. From the pop-like extractions of key images from protest banners - time (a clock), marching (feet), speeches (mouths) - to the rhythmic beats, Tromarama present how political engagement is accessible to all.
Ultimately, Private Riots is a seminal installation by Tromarama and a key example of how, at the heart of their practice, is the creation of an inclusive narrative through the use of form and colour, objects and figures, sounds and rhythms. Their practice literally animates the ordinary and weaves its existence into a tale of tribulations fuelled by consequence. As such, their work, and Private Riots in particular, infuses the ordinary with novel means of contemplation in the context of urban life, developments and political reverberations.
Tromarama are widely considered one of Indonesia’s most exciting rising talents and have been widely exhibited around the world. They’ve held solo exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne), Mori Art Museum (Japan) and have upcoming shows at the Frankfurter Kunstverein. Group exhibitions include the Samstag Museum of Art (Adelaide), APT 7 QAGOMA (Brisbane), Singapore Art Museum (Singapore).
1 Alia Swastika, ‘When Playing Is Not Only a Game’, (2011)