Respected Los Angeles–based Hong Kong artist and educator Shirley Tse exhibits in the Hong Kong Collateral Event at the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. The Hong Kong exhibition is co-presented and co-promoted by M+, at the West Kowloon Cultural District, and the Hong Kong Arts Development Council.
Playcourt, installation view of Shirley Tse: Stakeholders, Hong Kong in Venice, 2019
Courtesy of M+ and the artist. Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNOstudio
(9 May 2019, Venice) M+, at the West Kowloon Cultural District, and the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC) are proud to present the exhibition Shirley Tse: Stakeholders, Hong Kong in Venice as Hong Kong’s Collateral Event at the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. As the fourth collaboration between M+ and the HKADC, this exhibition is a milestone for Hong Kong contemporary art on one of the world’s most prestigious international platforms.
To mark the occasion, Cherry Tse, Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region; Wilfred Wong, Chairman of the HKADC; Duncan Pescod, Chief Executive Officer of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA); Christina Li, Guest Curator of the exhibition; and Shirley Tse officiated at the inauguration of the exhibition. The occasion also marked the tenth Hong Kong presentation in Venice. The exhibition is held from 11 May through 24 November 2019.
Speaking at the ceremony, Cherry Tse said, ‘Hong Kong is emerging as an arts and cultural metropolis. Through the provision of hardware and funding, the Hong Kong Government supports the arts and culture sector, and celebrates the achievements of our artists. With a view to promoting diversity and creativity, the Government puts in place a rich range of funding, support, and exchange programmes that benefit artists both directly and indirectly through collaboration with non-governmental agencies such as the HKADC. With the concerted effort of the Government, private sector, and numerous arts organisations, a vibrant arts and culture ecosystem is in place where artists can continue to grow and flourish.
Wilfred Wong said, ‘Over the years, we have been presenting many outstanding Hong Kong visual artists and their works to the world through this international arts platform. Riding on the previous success of Hong Kong’s presence in the Biennale, we continue to strengthen our ties with M+, West Kowloon Cultural District, this year to proudly present the exceptional works of Shirley Tse to our global audience.
Duncan Pescod said, ‘For the West Kowloon Cultural District and M+, this edition is our last presentation in Venice before the opening of the permanent home of M+, Hong Kong’s museum of twentieth- and twenty-first-century visual culture in the district, at the end of 2020 or in early 2021.
Shirley Tse: Stakeholders, Hong Kong in Venice
The exhibition is curated by Christina Li, an internationally active curator based in Hong Kong and Amsterdam, as Guest Curator, with Doryun Chong, Deputy Director, Curatorial, and Chief Curator, M+, acting as Consulting Curator. This is the second time M+ has appointed and engaged a guest curator from the rapidly growing community of contemporary art practitioners. In the previous edition of the Biennale in 2017, Ying Kwok was the guest curator for the solo presentation of the work of Samson Young.
Over the past two decades, the Los Angeles–based Hong Kong artist Shirley Tse has addressed the various meanings and possible interpretations of materials and things. Her sculptural practice has evolved from considering plastics as the prime signifier of globalisation through circulation, standardisation, and industrialisation to examining plastic as an adjective, and the resonance of plasticity, movement, and multiplicity in contemporary society.
The exhibition in Venice presents a new body of site-responsive work by Tse that contemplates a model for how we relate to each other, in ways that counter the logic that has produced our tumultuous times. In line with the overarching theme of this edition of the Biennale—titled May You Live in Interesting Times and curated by Ralph Rugoff—Tse uses the medium of sculpture to translate her thought process into physical form with two large-scale works: Negotiated Differences and Playcourt. Her work explores both horizontality and verticality, highlighting the unique spatial qualities of the exhibition site on the Campo della Tana, which includes an interior and an open courtyard. Negotiated Differences is a sprawling, rhizome-like installation of 3D-printed joints and hand-turned wooden forms that stretches across all the rooms of the space. Balusters, handrails, bowling pins, and abstract objects are connected by wooden, metal, and plastic elements, bringing together craft, mechanical, and digital technologies into an integrated whole.
Occupying the courtyard, Playcourt comprises sculptural amalgams of equipment and anthropomorphic forms that draw the eye skyward. The installation transforms the enclosure into an improvised badminton court, partly inspired by the artist’s memory of growing up in Hong Kong, and emphasises the negotiation between people and space that is a fundamental component of play. This negotiation is at the heart of Stakeholders; foregrounding the ideas of affect, empathy, and ethics, the exhibition proposes a space to reflect on how we can come to terms with the unforeseen actions that define our relationships with one another.
Suhanya Raffel, Museum Director, M+ stresses the significance of Hong Kong’s presence in Venice this year: ‘This marks the fourth collaboration between M+ and the HKADC, in which we present the best of Hong Kong contemporary art and curatorship to a wide international audience in Venice. I am particularly pleased with the selection of a female artist for the Hong Kong presentation. For M+, this edition of the Biennale is especially significant, as we prepare for the opening of the M+ building. We look forward to more and more collaborations with the HKADC in Venice and trust that our permanent base will allow us to continue to promote and nourish the development of Hong Kong art in new, inspiring ways.’
Doryun Chong, Deputy Director, Curatorial, and Chief Curator, M+, Consulting Curator of the exhibition emphasises the resonance of Shirley Tse’s Venice work: ‘Stakeholders is an exploration of issues of the individual and the collective that continue to be highly relevant today. Through the journey of spatial negotiations that she is thoughtfully setting up, Shirley Tse invites audiences to reflect on how individuals in society can maintain their identities and values.’
Christina Li, Guest Curator of the exhibition places this project in the context of Shirley Tse’s practice: ‘I am excited to be working with Shirley Tse on Hong Kong’s presence in Venice. With Stakeholders, Tse’s career-long exploration of the concept of plasticity evolves further, and the exhibition is a momentous opportunity to showcase her sculptural practice to global audiences while also re-establishing her prominent position in Hong Kong contemporary art.’
Shirley Tse adds: ‘I am grateful for the generous support I have received from M+ and the HKADC to develop this new body of work and to be able to represent Hong Kong in Venice. These new installations are the culmination of two decades of work, and my hope is that viewers will come away with new perspectives with which to think about their own agency and to look at the complexity of all forms of relations in our contemporary world.’
Curated by Christina Li, Guest Curator; with Doryun Chong, Deputy Director, Curatorial, and Chief Curator, M+, as Consulting Curator; assisted by Olivia Chow, Assistant Curator, Special Project; and Maggie Yim, Curatorial Assistant
Coordinator in Venice: PDG Arte Communications
Graphic design: Geoff Han and Julie Peeters
Location: Campo della Tana, Castello 2126, 30122, Venice, Italy (in front of Arsenale entrance)
Dates and times: 11 May–24 November 2019, 10am–6pm. Closed on Mondays (except 13 May, 2 September, 18 November).
The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication featuring essays on Shirley Tse’s new work as well as on her practice overall, with contributions by Evelyn Char, Chris Kraus, Miwon Kwon, and Christina Li.
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About Shirley Tse
Los Angeles–based Hong Kong artist Shirley Tse (born 1968) works in the media of sculpture, installation, photography, and text. She at once deconstructs the world of synthetic objects that carry paradoxical meanings and constructs models in which differences might come together. To visualise heterogeneity, Tse conflates different scales, fuses the organic with the industrial, moves between the literal and the metaphorical, merges narratives, and collapses the subject and object relationship.
Tse received a Master of Fine Arts degree from ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Chinese University of Hong Kong Department of Fine Arts. Her work has been exhibited at venues including the Pasadena Museum of California Art (2004/2017); Osage, Hong Kong (2010/2011); K11, Hong Kong (2009); Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge (2009); the Museum of Modern Fine Art, Minsk (2006); the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University (2005); Para Site, Hong Kong (2000/2005); the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts (2003); the Art Gallery of Ontario (2002); the Bienal Ceará América, Fortaleza (2002); the Biennale of Sydney (2002); Capp Street Project, San Francisco (2002); the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2002); MoMA PS1 (2002); the New Museum (2002); Palazzo dell’Arengo, Rimini (2002); the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2001); TENT, Centrum Beeldende Kunst Rotterdam (2001); and Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, New Zealand (2000). Her work is featured in many articles, catalogues, and other publications including Akademie X: Lessons in Art + Life (2015) and Sculpture Today (2007).
Tse received the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 2009 and has been on the faculty at California Institute of the Arts since 2001, where she is the Robert Fitzpatrick Chair in Art.
About Christina Li
Christina Li is a curator working between Hong Kong and Amsterdam. She graduated from the University of Hong Kong with a degree in Fine Arts (Art History) and Comparative Literature, and completed De Appel Curatorial Programme in 2009. She was the Curator-at-Large at Spring Workshop, Hong Kong, where she served as the Director between 2015 and 2017. At Spring, she curated, among other projects, A Collective Present (2017), Wu Tsang: Duilian (2016), Wong Wai Yin: Without Trying (2016), Days push off into nights (2015), and Des hôtes: a foreigner, a human, an unexpected visitor (2015). Her most recent exhibition, Dismantling the Scaffold (2018), was the inaugural exhibition at Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong. With Heman Chong, she launched Stationary, a collection of short stories, and co-edited the latest volume with writer and artist Malak Helmy.
Li previously worked as a curator at Para Site in Hong Kong from 2005 to 2008, and was the Assistant Curator of Making (Perfect) World: Harbour, Hong Kong, Alienated Cities and Dreams, Hong Kong’s participation in the 53rd International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, in 2009. Her other projects include The Goethe-Institut’s Pyongyang Reading Room: Between Object and Shadow (Goethe-Institut Amsterdam, 2013); A Map of Misreading (TENT, Centrum Beeldende Kunst Rotterdam, 2012); Spacecraft Icarus 13: Cinematic Narratives from Elsewhere (BAK, Utrecht, 2011); Prologue – Speculations on the Cultural Organisation of Civility (SKOR and various locations, Amsterdam, 2010); Not Yesterday, Not Tomorrow (Cable Factory, Helsinki, 2009); and Weak Signals, Wild Cards (De Appel, Amsterdam, 2009). As a writer, she has contributed to publications including Artforum, Art Review Asia, LEAP, Parkett, Spike, and Yishu Journal of Contemporary Art.
About Doryun Chong
Doryun Chong is Deputy Director, Curatorial, and Chief Curator of M+, a new museum of visual culture in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District. Appointed as the inaugural Chief Curator in 2013, Chong oversees all curatorial activities and programmes, including acquisitions, exhibitions, learning and public programmes, and digital initiatives encompassing the museum’s three main disciplinary areas of design and architecture, moving image, and visual art. Some of the exhibitions he has curated or co-curated at M+ include Mobile M+: Live Art (2015); Tsang Kin-Wah: The Infinite Nothing, Hong Kong in Venice (2015); Samson Young: Songs for Disaster Relief World Tour (2018); and Noguchi for Danh Vo: Counterpoint (2018). Prior to joining M+, Chong worked in various curatorial capacities at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (2003–2009) and the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2009–2013).