By Emily Chung and Charmine Ng
Imagine a floor covered with tiny red and gold lapel badges depicting the flags of China saying ‘Hong Konger’,leading to a door which opens up to a bright white room.
This striking installation is the work of Hong Kong artist Kwan Sheung-chi, whose art goes straight to the heart of the question as to what it means to be a HongKonger today. This topical issue of identity inspired Kwan to scatter the badges on the floor.
Kwan went to considerable lengths to achieve this dramatic effect. “I got these pins customized on Taobao,” He said. “I find it funny how you can buy your identity on the Internet.”
If Kwan is an insider looking out, then Mariana Hahn is an outsider looking in.
The flame-haired native of Baden-Württemberg, southwest Germany graduated from London’s famed art school Central SaintMartins and now lives in Berlin. She came to Hong Kong to be the artist-in-residence of MILL6 Foundation.
Hahn’s creative quest took her back to the past and via Lantau, in search of the island’s fishing village heritage. The result is a collection of framed fabric pieces, video art and installations featuring silk, threads and sea salts. One resembles a pool of spray-painted blue sea salts on the floor with a rod on top, a homage to the traditional act of fishing.
“My work is about storytelling; it’s about archives. The living archives continue to weave the story, and the archives become the body,” said Hahn.
Linking Kwan and Hahn, with their contrasting personalities and backgrounds was the idea of MILL6 Foundation director Angelika Li.
“I brought together these artists from very different backgrounds because I saw a similar sensibility in how they approach their work, despite their differing personalities,” said Li.
“Mariana has a very quiet, poetic way of talking about violent matters and Chi is a very quiet person yet his works speak very loudly.”
Li’ s idea has paid off. By contrasting past and present with soft and hard, viewers are encouraged to see Hong Kong’s evolution through a different prism.
Social Fabric: MILL6 Foundation, the Annex 2/F, 2/F Nan Fung Place, 173 Des Vouex Road Central, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, 22 March – 21 April.