Lumenvisum initiated the Artist and Photographer Conversation Series in 2011 to serve as a platform for cross-disciplinary dialogue, each time conjuring up a collaborative exhibition as the creative outcome. In the past five years, some of the most significant artists in Hong Kong have partaken in such a joint venture, namely, Luke Ching and Ducky Tse, Stella Tang and Lau Ching Ping, Leung Chi Wo and Ng Sai Kit, Anothermountainman and Gretchen So, Enoch Cheung and Paul Yeung, and in this year Annie Wan and So Hing Keung.
Complexity Consciousness is the sixth edition of the Artist and Photographer Conversation Series. In the last half a year, photographer So Hing Keung and ceramist Annie Lai-Kuen Wan have engaged in deep dialogues on their artistic ideas and practices. Both eminent artists in their own fields, they have found kindred spirits in each other in their sharings on the relations between time and being, and between art and reproduction.
In the exhibition, Annie Wan’s three sets of works are all titled In the Name of Truth. In search of the linkage between ceramics and photography, Wan describes her works made with her signature ceramic moulding technique which produces products that have the left/right, positives/
To veteran photographer So Hing Keung, photography is a very conscious act, involving the individual choices of angles, apertures and light sources, etc., thus a far cry from what Walter Benjamin alleged in his monumental essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, a mere process of mechanical reproduction. As for Wan, she is oppposed to Benjamin’s assertion that the aura of the originals will be vanished after reproduction. She believes in her case, the aura has not only vanished but actaully lifted in her ceramic moulding process as it is all made with hand with every little step being unique, a sharp contrast with the oftentimes mass-produced originals.
In terms of subject matter, Annie Wan made her clay replicas using everyday objects found in her surroundings: the staff mailboxes at her school’s office, the two cameras she used to use as a student. As for So, those who have followed his work may have been aware already of his shift of motives from the external to the internal in recent years. Attempted to prove of his own existence, he has been observing the marks his body made in public spaces. To the artist, those temporary subtle creases left on the leather surfaces of the sofas he has sat on are very much moments of truth. Captured on film or on his memory drive, they are evidences of his own existence, though being moments of the past they may as well serve as his memento mori.
To Wan, such a postulation that photography is “capturing truth in the moment” is perhaps only a fragile belief. “What really is captured the moment the shutter clicks?” is her question. In her pursuit, she made thin slices of clay mould and framed them up with picture frames. Because of the curvature formed after firing, when the frame is pressed against the clay, the clay is immediately cracked into pieces. To Wan, the cracking sound reminds her of the shutter’s clicking, only that the difference is the fleeting moment is congealed in permanence into a tangible solid, taking up its own shape and space, and exists in the same space-time with us.
19.2.2016 FRI 6 – 8 pm
Dialogue with the Artists
28.2..2016 SUN 3 – 430 pm
Guest speakers: Rachel Cheung, Francis Yu
Workshop: Ceramic Moulding
20.3.2016 SUN 2-4 pm
Tutor: Ryan Hui
In Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes notes of his observations on the nature of time in relation to photography. He believes that a photograph has the evidential power of witnessing the moment “that-has-been,” that it can capture a moment in the floating stream of time that once existed in front of the camera and verify that. Through the tiny aperture, reflected light and shadows of the subject is captured on film forever. The photograph hence becomes the proof of existence of that moment. Meanwhile, he also grieves over that fact photograph is merely an illusion of the unrevivable past reality, tainted with nostalgia.
Moulding shares the same evidential power of witnessing the moment “that-has-been” as photography. The moulding clay intimately wraps around the original object during the moulding process. Yet, unlike photography, the original is isolated from its usual state and trapped inside the mould for a particular period of time. The copy carries the all banal details of the original, while possessing its own mass and volume, and genuinely taking up a physical space. Such transformation dilutes the sense of sadness that arises swith the flow of time. It is also nostalgia, but a comfortable substitution.
A photograph can be taken with a mere press of the shutter. But for moulding, it can only be accomplished in much longer time through sophisticated skills, including the manipulation of original object inside the mould as well as taking control of the material in the right state. Moulding indeed materialises time and makes it everlasting in a different state. The process inevitably copies the original while eliminating its context. As such, the copy allows possibilities for symbolic meaning and incants the power of monument.
So Hing Keung
Whenever I take a seat in a public space, I come to engage in an intimate relationship with it. After a certain while, when I need to make a move, I will turn my head and look back at where I have sat upon, to see whether my body has left behind any imprints. As if illuminated with an aura, the shape of the imprint would bring me to thoughts, stirring up something in my subconscious, which is then projected back onto the photographed object. I will examine my relationship with the imprint, to see whether it has copied any parts of my body, or based on my body parts spawned any special forms. When I leave, I feel I have existed.
Reproduction, construction and consciousness. You mindlessly make imprints of your body in public spaces. Such imprints will either disappear with time or with another person sitting upon it, with the notion of “I have existed” thus obliterated. Through photographic reproduction, I have come to recognise such an unconscious act, at the same time documenting all these intimate, short-lived moments of impermanence.
With death, we human beings may cease to exist. However, do we ever realise how many imprints we have left behind? Photography can record such moments of existence onto film surfaces, or in memory drive as bunches of digital codes. With this moment’s passing, I am aware of death’s existence, as if through a touch of Zen. The very moment of truth exists beneath your bottom.
About Annie Wan
After obtaining her Diploma in Design and a Higher Certificate in Studio Ceramics from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Fine Arts Department of the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1996 and 1999, Ms. Annie Wan devoted herself to art making and to researching a conceptual approach to moulding.
Wan has participated in various local and overseas exhibitions; she has been awarded the Winner (Sculpture) of the Philippe Charriol Foundation Art Competition in 1999, the Asian Cultural Council Fellowship in 2000, the Overseas Residency Grant by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council in 2003, and the Award Winner of the Hong Kong Art Biennial in 2003.
She has been an artist-in-residence at institutions in the USA, Japan and Denmark from 2001 to 2004 and was invited as Guest Artist by Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park in Japan, and was selected as an artist in the Artists in the Neighbourhood Scheme II by the Hong Kong Art Promotion Office. Her work is in the collections of individuals and institutions internationally, including the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, Hong Kong Museum of Art, the Burger Collection and the University of Salford Collection.
Wan has been teaching Ceramics at the Academy of Visual Arts of the Hong Kong Baptist University since 2009, currently as Assistant Professor.
About So Hing Keung
Born in Hong Kong, So graduated with first class honour in Bachelor of Arts in Photographic Design from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in 1994. 1995, he was awarded a photographic fellowship from the Asian Cultural Council for a research trip to the USA, followed by a one-year Fellowship for Artistic Development by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council in 1998. He practices fine art photography and is Guest Lecturer at the Department of Fine Arts, Chinese University of Hong Kong. He has started showing his works in Hong Kong and worldwide since 1980s, having exhibited Mainland China, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, New York, Toronto. He was named Photographer of the Year by the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club. Among the other awards he has received are Prize of Excellence at the Hong Kong Art Biennial and the Judges’ and Gold Awards by the Hong Kong Institute of Professional Photographers. So’s works are acquired by the Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong Heritage Museum and in private collections locally and overseas. He has also commercial collaborations with Louis Vuitton, United Colours of Benetton, fiji-xpro1, Olympus on photography projects. So’ works have been auctioned successfully at Sotheby’s Hong Kong.