Art Appraisal Club

Dialogue between Pak Sheung Chuen and Yang Yeung

Text/Yang Yeung

Location/Kam Wah Café, Ping Shek Estate

Date/8 February 2015

 

 

Yeung:I am reflecting on the Umbrella Movement and another key issue altogether recently – people relate all they see, including art, with big narratives emerging from drastic social changes. A Japanese artist I met here shared with me the same: most of her clients request works on the 311 earthquakes and tsunami. She rejects the deals so as to be free from the labeling effect  though she did have some works on the theme. As a related matter, The presentation by Oscar Ho, among those by artists or social groups, which featured slides on Umbrella Revolution and the Lion Rock in the show of Mali WU I visited in Kaoshiung stirred me especially I heard the narratives in a female vocal. It revealed the gap between the presentation and the reality artists are facing, and echoes with the worry shared by a group of young artists I collaborated with in the show in Oil Street. They are astonished by the impact brought by the banner hung down from the Lion Rock. The mixed feeling they have (a combination of appreciation, anxiety and likely others) does not come just from the Umbrella Movement but the uncertainty on what their title carries. Let’s talk about these today.

 

Pak: The way I see shows and the works has changed drastically from before I headed for ATM till when I returned. The Movement started on 28th with teargas shots and we were back here after the talk on 30th. My work always in the “in progress” state has started by then. I was rethinking on how to carry on with it after the Movement then found it rather pointless to include the impact of the event.

 

Yeung: What do you mean by “to carry on”?  You started the work by asking people in Hong Kong….

 

Pak: I arrived at Manchester long before ATM opened.  I was supposed to run some workshops and see if those I met on the streets would accept the one dollar coin after understanding my concepts. I intended to get the whole thing done on the streets but sadly not many responded. I guess it was because artistic activities weren’t any big deal over there, and the difference in the way we see Britain and how British see Hong Kong. I received overwhelming responses from people in Hong Kong when I started collecting coins on Facebook. It was all done within two weeks.

 

Yeung: Why 301 coins?

 

Pak: Just an estimation based on size of a traditional Victorian mirror. I think I couldn’t handle anything more than that. The response I got from Hong Kong was truly encouraging. I first posted on Facebook a status recruiting helpers and 10 immediately responded asking how they could help, what followed were a face to face meeting and online discussions on the strategies to package and present the work on Facebook. It’s interesting that the government was collecting coins from the public at the same time by sending coin carts to different districts every day. I guess the responses wouldn’t be that positive as there was no incentive at all and the amount of coins to trade was rather limited.

 

Yeung: Sorry to interrupt. Why do you think people were so positive towards your project?

 

Pak: Politics I guess. I did ask those who gave me coins how they saw it and the current condition of Hong Kong. Their answers, though neither the same nor detailed, can be summarized as a complicated mix of emotions. They named the relationship between the SAR Government with the Chinese Government the culprit of the poor governance in the city when compared to the past. It is actually rather weird when you see people protesting against the demolition of Star Ferry Pier and Queen’s Pier were those who never experienced the good old days. They joined the campaign because of their dissatisfaction towards the present situation, and their imagination of the better past.

 

Yeung: I joined the protest to preserve The Star Ferry Pier myself. I don’t fully agree to what you said. While it might be true for some, others went for it just because they found it illegitimate for the government wipe out everything old, and I think we did achieve something in the understanding on how the city should be run. Going back to your work, I think this differs from the previous ones in the efforts you paid to engage people in an unordinary act, rather than in daily or habitual acts as before?

 

Pak: This is a work six years ago, done exactly when the campaign to preserve Queen’s Pier started. When it was presented on the newspaper, the act of erasing the head of the Queen on the coins became a symbolic act hoping to move the audience with a relatively violent perspective. If I were to do this again, however, it would become a purely descriptive presentation which I myself wasn’t very much into. I am not all convinced with the kind of art pieces or performances that aim to move audience with symbols. At the very least, if an art piece engages others, it becomes way more open as I got to know how others perceive the event in question through Facebook or questionnaires, and I am in the position to be moved by the participants. It differs so much from my unilateral presentation of my own perception. The volunteered coin collectors and translators were all really committed to this project involving the very trivial yet troublesome coin collection process. The first who volunteer was a geek living in a partitioned flat in Mongkok. He was at the scene everyday during the Movement, and was so helpful in rolling the big one dollar coin I made here and there to grab people’s attention. I think he really loves the city, even more than I do although we grow up here all the same.

 

Yeung: So you finished a movement in two weeks?

 

Pak: It was more like a movement than an art piece for me. I was wondering on the effect of my works(usually on canvas, the most convenient form of communication) towards the audience. I thought it was OK before the Movement but not anymore after my return from ATM. I started to think this kind of participation and perception wasn’t the best to sustain the effect, and that was the question I pose here: how do I move on if I am to take one step forward.

 

Yeung: How did you feel the time you knew you were joining ATM and this was the piece you could pick up?

 

Pak: I at first presented works on the June 4th incident. They should be done fine in other countries except in China.

 

Yeung: What is the work actually about?

 

Pak: It was actually the number counting one on the list I sent you.

I later find it rather meaningless to get it done in other countries except back in China where you will instantly feel the stress. I prefer participatory artwork than those involving much material effort just for display in a particular exhibition venue.

 

Yeung: Is this your general approach now? When did it start to be?

Pak: Yes. It all started when I worked on a piece for the Taipei Biennial in 2010. I was pondering on the relationship between an artwork and the environment and realized it was totally environmentally unfriendly. It all involves political judgment from the time you start planning your work, then when the venue first perceive its intention, to finally have it presented to the audience for their individual perception, and even for the footage portraying audience seeing the work at the sides. I think the piece really reflected the real situation at that particular time though I don’t buy into political art.

I finished the work in Beijing for an exhibition curated by Janet and funded by the Beijing Office of the HKSAR Government. Participating artists from Hong Kong and Beijing were supported by a team of staff from Hong Kong Economy and Trade Office, whose members were Hong Kong businessmen in Beijing. It was political presentation of image of the HKSAR Government by a group of its people working there.

 

Yeung: A very apolitical act.

 

Pak: It was really political under the apolitical background. With the theme “A Better Tomorrow” Janet forwarded, I contemplated the best way to present the situation and finally went back to the idea I jotted down on my notebook around the June 4th anniversary the year before – To ask if people we met at the Peking University can be filmed when counting from 1 to 63. It turned out around 6-7 of them helped out, after all the stressful process of searching. I later found out that some of them agreed to help out because they are friends of my assistant, some just had no idea what June 4th was and so treated it like a pure performance, and others with a full understanding of what the incident was saw it as a deliberate act. We did tell them it was a serious act without going into details of the incident but by asked them to signify their agreement to have the clip played in the exhibition venue in Beijing, and their awareness of the possible consequences. My assistant originally suggested doing that in his own campus but I insisted going somewhere public, like the University, and asked those passing by to participate. You see it has become a taboo with how they responded. It was when numbers counting became political, and the weird state of working on a piece so much like it was already done, that drew my focus

 

And you know, Janet, and her bosses of course, found it equally embarrassing to point out even the single digit and to reject me. The state that everyone dared not point out the single digit became the key component of the work. The counting act stopped right at 63 exhibited the place the incident held in everyone’s mind, though avoided at that particular setting.  I self-censored all the years I worked in the mainland and I clearly knew the bottom line to draw. What I did was to test that of the Beijing Office. How independent could it stand as a Hong Kong organization in the capital of China? The work was a total success in the sense that it revealed the anxiety hidden in the venue management, the curator, the participating artists, and the audience alike.  No one actually took any pictures of my work during the whole exhibition.

 

The Hong Kong businessmen working in Beijing were the target audience on the opening day of the exhibition. I guess they would very much wanted to avoid the narrative as they focused on the one displayed next to mine by a mainland artist. His work fitted the theme perfectly with an outlined street scene in Hong Kong in which audience were invited to colour.  It served as a perfect backdrop for group pictures. My video work was allowed to be displayed all the way through the exhibition, thanks to Janet. My work became the focal point of discussion in the seminar where we exchanged on the situation bounding art production in China. Artists in China are more burdened when compared to individual artists like me as they hold the lifeline of a team or even a gallery. They have to be extremely flexible and tactful in deciding when, where and which artwork to display. It is neither working as well as they claimed nor as bad as we thought. I would see it as them being assimilated into the art market.  The embarrassment my work brought out became the most meaningful topic and facilitated a close-door heated discussion. A crew from Phoenix TV did come to film our discussion but no coverage was seen all over media. You see from this that the sensitive stuff could not be broadcast through the official channels in China. But still, the work sustained its impact in other ways.

 

Yeung: What if it was voiced out by artists from outside China like you? Would it bring you trouble too?

 

Pak: No. they won’t bother with the troubles which would make them look stupid. They think it’s better to keep their hands off that issue and have you to speak out for them. But I didn’t make it political except pointing out one real situation. I was proposing this work, among others, to Joshua, to see how he would respond, and he quickly rejected it. It was equally funny when a collector came showing interest in collecting my work. It was just unfeasible because it wouldn’t make any sense if the work goes out of the Hong Kong context.

 

Yeung: Is this what you originally wanted to pick up at ATM?

 

Pak: ATM just gave the name and a few sentences in the PowerPoint it provided. The pick of indirect Chinese translation for the theme of “Harmonious Society” to weaken the political sense already made me uneasy. It was from that I wanted to join and explore – the position politics occupy in ATM.

 

Yeung: You just mentioned that politics exists all the way from your idea to the final product on display. Could you elaborate?

 

Pak: Once you skip those tiring and complicated production processes, you will find yourself focused on the intention behind the work, the way to participate and your relationship with participants. This is to where my attention and efforts shift. I am still figuring out the way forward as less material input would inevitable bring limitations to the platform I can outreach to.

Yeung: You have to immense yourself long enough till the way forward appears again. You never made it to the June 4th topic because of the shortage of funds. How about the one involving coins? How did you feel at that time?

 

Pak: I realized my memory faded after I landed on 1 October. I really have no clue on what and why this happened or why are others so into it.

 

Yeung: We were just overwhelmed by the Movement.

 

Pak: The discussion was heated up by the change in social atmosphere and the students’ strike. I was planning on this piece under that atmosphere and structure two months before the Movement formally started. I was figuring out the way to link between the Movement and my work to appear at this point in time in these two places. What came to my mind was the relationship among the British government and its colonies, and what happened after Hong Kong’s handover. It was on this course I restructured and worked on it again. I intended to materially and directly engage the audience, to see how they connect with the British. I wish to draw media’s attention over the work but sadly it was not done yet. I planned to connect the participants from Hong Kong with those from Britain in a collaboration of art work featuring coins, Queen’s head erased and polished on both sides grouped into a big round Victorian mirror reflecting one’s face. The response from the Queen and the British Government when the gift was presented, together with the connection between Hong Kong and Britain, would spark dialogues and discussion, which would then become the post political part of the work. I never focused on the exhibition venue given its limited reach at Manchester. I couldn’t achieve in Britain anything as positive as in Hong Kong and had to sadly halt the work.

 

Yuen: So it’s abandoned because people in Britain didn’t responded positive enough?

 

Pak: Yeah. All those who gave me coins had a positive imagination towards Britain:  They all expect the British government to see what we are up to and speak for us because we are still somewhat related to it. But I realized how stupid, and naïve we were when I was in Britain. What the British related with the coin was the referendum for the independence of Scotland. Their sole imagination towards the disappearance of the Queen’s head on the coin also related to Scotland. That said, I think British are generally politically apathetic to engage themselves seriously  on the issue, not to mention tuning themselves to relate the work to the current situation of Hong Kong, some even had no clue that Hong Kong was already handed over to China.

 

I think I have to work harder on this area – should I carry on with the work in this mode or collect views from another community like those Hong Kong emigrants to Britain? Anyhow this would be beyond the reach of this work now. I started thinking about my way forward before I left Manchester. I still want to carry this on somehow though not over there because it wouldn’t further develop.  The linkage between a Hongkonger and a British, though takes long for me to elaborate, should be interesting. This long process would allow different layers of perception even for myself. It would be a separate matter as to whether the mirror should be gifted to the Queen, but working on it long term is in itself a meaningful act. If I am to start this again I will work this way, after all I just couldn’t keep the good heart of the 301 participants to myself.

 

Yeung: But then what did you observe in their responding / not responding you? Are there dialogues in between?

 

Pak: I did observe something interesting. Since this project was conducted in collaboration with Chinese Art Centre, some participants it reached were those in the art scene, or interested in art. There was a discussion on art pieces in exhibition venues, in which I presented the sound and lines left on the ground after rubbing Queen’s head as a reversion of her portray. It was through this aesthetic they join the project – as an artistic event without consideration on whether it’s a political art. Another group saw it as a clever way to present the idea. They became aware of the loss of colonial influence that Britain once had in Hong Kong after I told them it’s really hard to locate coins with the Queen’s head and the story of Hong Kong. They did have the faint feeling at that particular moment but that wouldn’t sustain a discussion of any kind, as it was so hard to share with them those concepts we thought everyone else would understand – “One Country Two Systems, The Joint Declaration the Chinese Government no longer respected, and the deprivation of freedom and institution we could enjoy after the handover. It’s clear that they do not, and are not interested in understanding us, although we would very much hope they did. It was only our wishful thinking.

 

Yeung: So nothing came up in seminars there?

 

Pak: It was just groups of four sits around a table to have discussions according to the topics given. I was playing news clips on Hong Kong and the focus quickly shifted there. I think language is a problem in a way as my English is not good enough to fully understand what they were talking about. And it was not a proper context to facilitate in-depth discussion over there. I had an argument with the curator as he thought political art was weak in the sense that it didn’t bring about much changes. I saw it another way around though. Coming back to the banner on the Lion Rock, it was truly a powerful act in linking us with the Lion Rock belief with clear visual impact and full media coverage. Whether you treat it as art was another matter. I treat it as art, in a clever form.

 

Yeung: Anyway you did hope for understanding from the British the way like the participants responded to you? This is to me comparatively more direct than your previous works.

 

Pak: In what sense it is more direct? Can you elaborate?

 

Yeung: A strong political stance. The positive imagination towards Britain was kind of weird – we don’t really hate the colonizer but rather expect them to care for and understand us. I don’t think most being colonized would think the same. However, it was equally hard to ask the colonizer to critically reflect on their role. I have no clue as to how the British learn about the history of how they colonized others.

 

Pak: I think they are just politically apathetic. They are not interested in devoting much time on political discussions, in that sense they are quite like Hong Kong people.

 

Yeung: Do you think we cannot deliver anything political in exhibition venues in general?

 

 

Pak: Yes according to my experience joining biennials and triennials. You will find it much better to work under a topic not related to politics. If the stage for a political art is confined to the exhibition venue, it then becomes the politics among artists, curators and the venue management. It becomes so much like office politics then, which is meaningless to me. I think political art itself does not only fail at exhibition venues, but as an art form itself. Maybe it is just I have never seen it working within my imagination or working experience.

 

Yeung: So what do you mean by political art? Do you think you are doing it?

 

 

Pak: No I don’t. People claimed I did do political art, but I now think I have never been working on it. Political art would mean something to me only if it brings material impact to politics. If it is outside the context, I prefer to work on it like an art piece without emphasizing its political element.   If I really managed to gift the art work of coins to the Queen, I am actually bringing the work from an exhibition venue to a real political scene. By then I can achieve the impact I just talked about. But I guess by then I won’t regard myself as working on pure art. It seems to be two distinctive and exclusive realms.

 

Yeung: So there’s no way political production takes place in exhibition venues?

 

 

Pak: Exhibition venues including galleries perceive works in a unique system. For an art piece with political agenda, the message has to be neutralized before it can gain access into the system and be perceived. In this way you cannot get the message out direct.  The other way around, once you leave the context, you are bound to face the dilemma I am in now: When I joined the Movement, I would unconsciously ponder which identity I take and what I should do after realizing that there are types and way of working not appropriate for the Movement. I have a clear stance and a strong perspective on the political issue. Yet when it comes to post-movement exhibitions as recently suggested, I remain hesitant as to the extent it contributes to have it delivered in exhibition venues.  I think these are what I have to reconsider now.

 

Yeung: like what?

 

Pak: The fact that I don’t concur with the way exhibition venues present art production and perceive the concept behind them. I think it would be confusing to blend art into the Umbrella Movement. The idea academically trained artists like us hold – that we can communicate with and appreciate art pieces from the set boundary from a distance – is dangerous. Like when I participated in the movement, I was spiritually and emotionally very engaged but yet totally stuck when it came to a direct action and imagination. I guess it is related to my background as an artist.

 

Yeung: I see what you mean. I experience the same.

 

Pak: I think a lot of us are tuck. I can still make it if asked to work on an exhibition, yet in a totally different personal state. I could no longer focus clean and clearly on the aesthetic perspective like before. This may well be pointless yet practical.

 

Yeung: It is like a truth seeking process. Your coin rubbing exercise reminds me of freedom, though I couldn’t elaborate it well. Recently I visited an exhibition by City University graduate LI wing-shan. She had an installation in an old building in which audience were asked to bring along a radio when touring. The most interesting part was the water boiler she put on a table with a copper coil beneath it to make it sound. While I thought the boiler looked so irrelevant and awkward, she found the show without it for reasons she couldn’t name. I think the boiler symbolizes her free-up in current restrictions.

 

Pak: your story reminds me of one about coins. When I was in secondary school, my classmate rubbed a coin against the ground with the shoe sole, giving a special sound. It was the first interesting impression towards coins. It was common to rub both sides of the coin till it wsa all smoothed though I didn’t know why. It’s a deviation of the conventional involving both sound and touch. The rubbing movement delivered first from hand or feet to the coin, then to the ground as the scratches, erasing messages on the coin in return. This bodily movement was a common theme in my work. I once had a work on body movement in which I took a simple approach in discussion of the 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional relationship with human beings and maps – to talk about how one’s body goes through the cityscape. There are plenty direct notion of body in my works.

 

Yeung: Like your previous work A Training on Human Transmission of Breath?

 

Pak: This somewhat relates to what I am doing now. Having worked for more than 10 years, I decided to stop after the Umbrella Movement. I have thought about quitting a few times when I realized it has become a habit: when ideas were coming up, I had to take papers and pens out, write on the public transport, or chose to remember them hard and write them home instead. I always remain undecided at the degree I get used to my work as a habit so that I should stop, and thus carry on this simple act of doing. It was after the Movement, like about a week ago, I finally sat down without noting anything down. I just sat, but then I felt so uncomfortable to stop myself from taking the notebook out again. It was internalized, even till now.

 

Yeung: Great. It is a touching.

 

Pak: It is a line I deliberately make clear. It might be related to our political ecosystem, in which we would revert like nothing really happened. I don’t want to be like what we do every year – we resume work like no protest or demonstration took place after July 1st.

 

Yeung: OK, how did you know you were blacklisted?

 

Pak: It first spread on the internet. Someone tagged me in a post on Facebook status listing out artists banned in exhibitions in mainland. Of course there are some you know early they will be blacklisted, like Chapman To, Chow Yun Fat, but with only three artists on the list, including me and Ricky Yeung but without Kacey, I didn’t think it was a big deal. Later, friends helped me check it out since I have partnering galleries in the mainland. It turns out nobody knows if there was such a list, yet some media companies like The Emperor Group has this list pinned at its editorial section, and they wouldn’t interview or report on those blacklisted for the time being.

 

Yeung: Can you still do exhibitions there then?

 

Pak: No. It was the Shanghai Biennial last October I was in a deal with. The curator suddenly ringed one day and hinted like “you know you are on the list…” and I found my name deleted on their newsletter before I was formally informed that I was out by another call. It just happened to the one hosted by that official organization. I joined an exhibition they hosted one year ago though. It was the CCAA Chinese Contemporary Art Award Exhibition, their 15th anniversary archival exhibition.

 

Yeung: The comment towards the exhibition was really strange. I saw it from your blog and you went back to read it for yourself.

 

Pak: Oh that exhibition was an archive of works by awardees, judges and bloggers over the years.  The organization didn’t feature any works by Ai Wei Wei, as awardees or judges before. But that was an archival event showing what was on the list. The space under Ai Wei Wei’s name plate remained blank even the night before the opening. His name was literally erased like those coins. I guess it was the negotiation between the curator and the exhibition planners till the order from the central authorities came down and the final decision on either “Yes” or “No” had to be made. It was political censorship at the last moment. As I told Yanna before the discussion on Li Tin Lun, it was something you have to prepare yourself for as it was such a common practice for mainland. You simply have no way to escape from it so it really depends on how you engage yourself in it. But I never expected something like that in Hong Kong, it is plain ridiculous.

 

Yeung: it was all good that night. Many came to be with Tin Lun. We translated an email he wrote to Floria. I think the most ridiculous thing in mainland is that art galleries cannot survive without the support from the authorities. I don’t reject maintaining normal relationship, but not submitting to the authorities that easily to make them aggressive like they are now.

 

Pak: I don’t think it has much to do with HeXiangNing museum. It couldn’t offer him material advantage anyway. It was just that he preferred not revealing his position and attitude at the expense of his future deals with official institutions in the mainland. But those in mainland made no reference to your track record. It’s a new deal every time.

 

Yeung: I was thinking if we should write up a Q&A, providing funny responses to an exhibition director who claimed to have control over stuffs in exhibitions. We need a practical guide or list to make reference to when we have to deal with situations like that while we aren’t trained to do so. We have to take our autonomy back in an artistic way we are good at.

 

Pak: I have been thinking the same recently. I would say most artists are like farmers as they remain passive in both the supply chain and the power structure. You have no say no matter you are picked for a show. The same comes to whether to include Tin Lun or not. There was no reason given and he had no say on that. But it is not easy to settle, as the same happens even in America.

 

Yeung: there may be no way to solve it for the time being. But at least you can state it clearly so that others wouldn’t misunderstand and keep blindly following preset rules. An artist asked a few days ago how I curated a show. I told him my practice though I only did few – to perceive a work’s values and link my imagination with those with the same values before putting them together under the same theme. It contravenes to a popular belief held by young artists that curators set the theme before picking works. Another difficulty I encounter when I work with young artist is that they rejected communication with curators. For established artists who can build up negotiation channels and bargaining power in deals, but the young ones just prefer not talking about it because they have neither the channels nor power. Their attitude is like, hey, don’t bother, tell me the deadline and I will give you the works, and this is truly devastating.

 

Pak: I think it relates to the overall art development of Hong Kong. You see museum and gallery shows dominate the art scene. They are not required to explain for whatever decisions they make. The same discussion goes on back in Venice Biennial. Should a budding young artist be trained in the power structure, or just ignore those constraints and focus on he like to work on? I think this approach does not work well if they are deprived of any chance to communicate with the authorities right from the start.

 

Yeung: it means forgoing some autonomy.

 

Pak: power relationship corrupts not only in Hong Kong but in China as well. We have to make the ugly cases public to stop them from repeating. Our power structure is inevitably building a network in which curators builds up relationship with artists. You can still challenge against museums with mass media coverage, but not to commercial art scene where it’s all about wealthy collectors paying heaps for artworks. I once did try to do something to raise their awareness but ended up in a total failure. It was back when a gallery of Ai Wei Wei collaborate with a Hong Kong curator for a show asking some famous Hong Kong artists to each crossover with Ai in one work. It started alright but soon I realized what it really meant by “crossover” – that Hong Kong artists do their work inside a frame outlining the map of China created by Ai. I, like many others, immediately see the underlying message so I suggested removing the frame as it would mean Hong Kong artists deprived the chance of exercising their creativity if otherwise. But my idea was rejected by the curator. I then counter-proposed that I would produce a work to be covered by the frame. If audience is to see my work they will have to take the frame down.

 

Yeung: That’s smart!

 

Pak: in the seminar afterwards, I elaborated that I was responding to Ai Wei Wei with his faith. You are literally clashing with authorities. You always fail to say what you mean as an artist speaking out in the art scene, but the opposite happens when you are speaking for your own production. That is why I became much more cautious in entering deals for exhibitions. I dare not join those I guess would cause troubles, which means I am limiting myself to fewer platforms. My reach is now limited to my own Facebook account when I doubt the effectiveness of exhibition venues.

 

Yeung: Open your own exhibition space then.

 

Pak: too tired for it. Your attention will inevitably shift from your work. I am in a dilemma of surviving in the market through gallery sale on the one hand and creating works doubting its importance on the other. When you cannot produce works not because you can’t but you don’t want to, it becomes a real problem, making it hard to survive during the last year.

 

Yeung: Do you think biennials and triennials are markets too? Are they different from commercial sales you have at galleries?

 

Pak: They definitely are. What you see is the same group of people linked to foundations and galleries. The interrelationship among different authorities is clearly exhibited in the brand building process of placing art works first at the biennials or triennials and then art fairs, though it does not directly brings a rise in their price. They are literally on the same supply chain so it is hard to deal with them. And what makes the matter worse is that there are fewer and fewer small scaled institutions willing to spend time on communicating with artists. The space provided to artists and conditions they subject to for work and exhibition alike become much harsher than before.

 

Their ideal mode would be artists running themselves like self-financing companies providing works to sell. I would say most artists can neither reach this position nor suit this mode of business. Only few like Cai Guoqiang and Yue Minjun could manage with factory like production and promotion. You see the dangers the art ecosystem faces is making it unsustainable. While we are better off financially with resources and support readily available, we face more restrictions and attention distractors. Maybe it explains why I find it even harder to produce artwork than when I first graduated.

 

Yeung: A young artist told me he was figuring a way out which he could produce works up to his own expectation when he was approached by multiple agents at a time.

 

Pak: It would be great if he could achieve that goal sooner. When artists agents can do so, they are truly Hong Kong people living happily in one flat and speculating in the property market with another. It will be unlike what most of us are doing now – just struggling to pay off the rent every month.

 

 

 

 

 

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