P-read: Jam Version"
Visual Dialogue Between Anthony Leung & Phoebe Man
Para/Site Art Space, Nov.97
are many local exhibitions. Criticisms, however, are hard to come by.
To encourage response, Art Space makes "communication" the theme
of this exhibition. Man Ching-ying, Phoebe and Leung Po-shan respond to
each other with their works. The process is included in the exhibition.
The dialogue is two-way and productive of more dialogues. Diverse creative
opportunities are explored. The aim is to allowing viewers to understand
the process behind each creative endeavor.
Leung Po-shan I know>> Man Ching-ying, Phoebe
Po-shan's response in brackets)
first time I noticed Leung Po-shan was when I was working at the Hong
Kong Economic Journal. That was four or five years ago. I heard that a
little sister from my school working in the magazine, <<Cross over>>
as a summer intern. I then came across her critical writings that challenged
the Fine Arts Department, Chinese University of Hong Kong. She was then
only a Year One student. That was audacious. She even shaved her head
for a performance. She worked part-time as a nude model for the department.
(No big deal, no big dealˇK) She was invited to perform in Japan even before
she graduated. That's quite a prominent bearing! It's also avant-garde.
But then, she is such a gentle person. I ran into her in an exhibition
opening. We talked on the same wavelengths. (I am not as audacious these
days! My state of mind is different, and my obstinacy in creativity has
also weakened.) I remember very well that in one of her performances,
she was hammering tomatoes into a bed. I did some works with beds, too.
I also thought about staining the bed with a tinge of red. That's why
I was particularly impressed. The current exhibition requires collaborative
work. She is the first person to come to my mind.
talked to her, and we looked at each other's works. I realized there are
many similarities-both of us have thought about switching departments
(I was thinking about transferring to Philosophy, and recently I was thinking
of liberating myself from my "profession"ˇK); we both like to
think, and our brains are always faster than our hands; we had been journalists
after graduation, and our rhythm of work is similar. Our works developed
from being radical and dramatic to yearning for the ordinary. I tend to
use materials that people hate, for instance, the protective coat of cockroaches,
hygienic napkins stained in red. Po-shan does that, too, for instance,
carrying a bag of blood on her back that dripped while she walked. After
that, both of us did low-profile works. She painted herself white in a
white room, and I made a shape of a clothes hanger on a white shirt. There
is one more thing: however radical we are in our creative works, we are
very cautious in dealing with people. We don't want to hurt others. We
both like a simple life, studying and creating. But with regard to our
family (It's more accurate to say, our mothers), we both feel a sense
of responsibility. (It's hard to spell out everything between mother and
daughter.) She said if her mother wanted to buy a flat, she wouldn't hesitate
earning lots of money to realize her mother's dream. I am now paying the
installment of my mother's flat. That means I'll be in debt for the next
fifteen years. Maybe we are both a little repressed. There are the elements
of violence and anxiety in our works. (Yes, and recently, they're more
and more "leftist.")
works convey strong emotions. When I look at her red works, I think of
chilies-thrilling and strong. The works she did during the school years
seemed to have been driven by rebellion. She had a love for the kind of
banal and rigid luminescent colors. She would draw a clear line between
these colors and the earth and harmonious tones used by other Fine Arts
students. As female, she would swear allegiance to foul language to show
the violent side of religious rituals. The bloody violence is direct and
provocative, and allows no room for others to turn away and escape.
return to the same origin via different paths. Our thinking is similar.
We exchange in a lively way. I think I have found the right person for
this exhibition. Great!
Man Ching-ying I know>> Leung Po-shan
name, Man Ching-ying, reminds me of Chinese desserts like "shui ching"
cakes (crystal cakes) and rice cakes. Her works, however, are very different
from her name-don't even think of finding sugar coating in her work. Scissors,
nappies, and tomatoes smashed to the skin. She says she's not sadistic.
She uses materials that people hate because she doesn't want to avoid
using disgusting materials. (I really don't have a choice. I was hoping
I'm born to be yummy and sweet, but naked hygienic napkins, scissors to
ward away fear, and wounded tomatoes stitched up with nails are closer
two artists who use similar materials that metaphorically refer to women's
situations exhibiting together may cause a lot of jealousy and some care-less
ending. It's lucky that it's been "so far, so good." It has
even started to make me, someone who doesn't believe in dialogic exhibitions,
engage vehemently in debates. Ching-ying probably feels the same way.
(That's right. If we must communicate, why can we not communicate?)
graduation, Ching-ying has always had a full-time job. Her burden of living
isn't very heavy. Still, she's "on the bus", paying for her
mortgage. The question of whether her works are sophisticated aside, having
insisted on doing creative work for many years, she has still pried open
her own "bloody path". (This makes me blush. I'm not that persistent.
After graduation, having worked for two years, I didn't do any creative
work. After that, in order to feel that I exist, I started doing exhibitions
again. It's been quite smooth. Hong Kong has a small art circle. There's
always an opportunity to exhibit. I just go with the flow and do work
after work. Of course there were times when I wanted to give up. Doing
creative work amateurishly is hard. But when I see my children, that is,
my works, being born, I feel this strange sense of joy that is worth all
the sleepless nights. Art has no use. But it has its position and potential.
It made me grow, gave me a vision. It's like I'm developing a bonding
with it. I hope others also feel the power of art. I think I will carry
on. Ha! I'm being so chatty.)
she was studying in the Chinese University, multi-media was a trendy import.
Creative works began in stumbles, and were not supported by school-mates
and teachers. Even when she was just painting, she would think about the
cultural meanings of the materials, for instance, wax and mirror. In fact,
besides working with the visual media, she writes a bit of novel and poetry.
New works would be generated from them. Some people think this way of
doing creative work is not pure, and too literal. I think that's just
point about playing a relaxing game is an interesting direction. I think
we can move along this direction. Maybe we could try laughing at ourselves.
How about your T-shirt work?
-we could choose our most, so-called "classic" work, or one
that has no more room for development. We give that to each other and
think from there. There has to be an object. There is too much interpretation
in verbal expressions. It's hard for visitors to understand.
-this is about the exhibition, ok?
-I am also thinking about other things:
Last night, I realized we had such similar experiencesˇKwe don't like painting
that much, and wanted to switch departments. We have almost become obsessed
with thinking. We have been journalistsˇKthere're also the redness, mirrors,
violenceˇKI was at the Pottery Workshop today. Someone asked me why I like
to do pornographic worksˇKI didn't say much. I thought, if I keep on thinking
about things that I'm obsessed with in a rational way, that's not acceptable.
But I couldn't think of anything particularly upsetting in my life. I
just happened to be very sensitive with gender, sex and love (relation
between two people, to be precise). I am actually a chicken. I hate horror
movies, but I'm very interested in violence. Maybe that's because I rationally
reflect too much on those irrational things to constitute this double
-I think of Hau Chun-ming. He is very gentle, but his works are very different.
-I suggest we visit each other's home in our next meeting. The other names
I must mention are Giinter Brus and Rudokf Schwargkogler.
Keep in touch.
thought of "XXX Relay (female group)"
-"Relay P-read" makes sense.
"Colorful P-read Soap Opera" (female group)
-I couldn't think of anything. I just finished calculating the German
exhibition budget. It's still not enough, even if I include the Hong Kong
Economic Journal Fund.
-I'm starting to have some ideas. We can re-construct some experiences
relating to menstruation. They have to be humorous, but also logical.
I was thinking about "Ha Ha Bag Pregnant Woman Hygienic Napkin."
We could imitate the way Ho Siu-kee displayed the pillow in Ghost Encounter.
-what do you think?
so tired after moving houses last night. Now I have the energy to talk
to you. I like "colorful P-read soap opera" for the title. Clashing
in colors, right? Do we have to make this slogan, like "Dress-clashing
is not a Crime!" Shall we eliminate the "female group"?
We are not competing.
When people look at materials in a work, they would say who is copying
who, for instance, when you use butter, they say it's Beuy's idea. If
you put branches in a painting, they say it's Kiefer. We have to focus
on the way we work with the materials, right? I have some ideas. We put
a little bit of blood in a plastic bag. At the bottom of the bag is some
sponge or a down blanket. Visitors can step on it. The water in the bag
would go "Zee, Zee."
tried it. Squeezed water is a little like cells.
The Ha Ha bagˇKdoes it make sounds only when we tie it up or sleep on it?
Haha! You're naughty!
We'll talk on the phone tonight.
received the photocopy of your photograph. I have this idea:
image of a balloon or
edge of a pillow.]
for the name: "P-read (continued)" Don't laugh! Of course it
-my new idea is to nail that laughing M napkin on the wall. It sticks
out. Visitors would walk close and lean on the wall. Then, they can put
it between their legs, and try the feeling of wearing a napkin. Work for
-are you still busy with moving houses?
-if you have time during the day, call me at Pottery Workshop.
-as for (continued)ˇKI want to convey a feeling of two people exchanging.
I suggest "twin play, twin bully, twin drama, or red twin play act."
-about your new idea, I thought of something playful, for instance, swingsˇKsomething
like that. They have to be a bit wet. (Am I suggesting too many things?)
-Yes, still busy. The old flat is a garbage heap. The moving isn't done
yet. The new flat is another garbage heap. Still messy. Have to organize
we start making invitation cards?
-did Ah Wo wait for us, and include the name of the exhibition?
-I quite like the swing idea. We could ask people to sit on them. But
if it's wetˇK
You didn't make too many suggestions. I offer one and you offer one, and
we move back and forthˇKYou'd better be quick! I was cleaning up my flat
and found a pair of shoes. The kind people wear for wedding. Do you want
-I have a new idea: it's about foot-binding. I did that work before and
a "Lo Ngoi" (foreigner) pretended to know and asked if it's
about foot-binding. The tradition is so horrible. It's an external behavior/
violence forced to be internalized.
Hoi would love this! Ha!
-Do you have time to meet next week? Let's present our homework. Did you
see <<??>> exhibition (the Japanese artist's exhibition)?
It looks interesting.
-that's it. How's Mid-Autumn Festival in a new home? I saw eclipse of
the moon, fire balloons and fireworks, at homeˇKhow about you?
-I won't be in the workshop today. Call me tonight, ok? I'll be at home.
with the ornament cabinet.
-change of dates (we'll talk about logistics tonight.)
-title: is <P-read: jam version> ok? Yours is good, too. I don't
-regarding your new ideas, I thought of something. Push-up bra and those
slimming underwear are probably modern versions of bound shoes. I have
never tried them, but it makes me sick to think about wearing shoes of
a wrong size. It's even harder to imagine ordinary girls squeezing and
pushing up their breasts when they're just taking photographs of their
daily life. They may even do plastic surgery on their breasts to please
their boyfriends. I make breasts (that is, in the work) and you make feet.
How's that sound?
-I don't plan to go to the Japanese women's exhibition*. It seems direct.
I think it will be forceful. But there is little room for imagination.
It's like a political statement. It's very fierce, and not very interesting
(yes, it doesn't have to be interesting.) I admire her. She proposes that
people should have a moral will. Japanese women should not be accomplices.
But I think everyone is a social animal. I would empathize with the Japanese
women. After all, they are not the ones who caused the war! I don't understand
why the big bullies are left alone and the small chickens become scapegoats.
Both should be beaten up, right?
-on Mid-Autumn Festival, I assembled my furniture. It's lots of fun, even
a bit like assembling toys. I hope I can settle down soon to work on the
the exhibition protested against Japanese women whose silence, it claimed,
constituted the war. The work involved guns attached to aprons of Japanese
women, videos etc.
sorry I didn't reply earlier. I have been busy and felt disturbed over
the past few days. I didn't sleep well at night. During the day, I felt
blank and couldn't think. I list out what we covered last night, in case
I miss anything:
1)"P-read"; 2) publish a poster of size A3ˇKfront side with a
photograph (I didn't bring the illustration), back side will be text;
3) after the exhibition opens, we work on the catalogue of about forty
pages; it would include our discussion and some writings and pictures;
four pages in four colors; 4) draft a proposal to ADC that includes the
above; have bios ready by Friday; also my slide and my creative brief,
and budget. You will also submit your own proposal.
-Let's talk tomorrow. I've to be at Hollywood Road first. See you in the
workshop at 7pm, ok?
-we have to start preparing the invitation card.
can think of many things after a good rest. Today I started drawing sketches
and sculpting boards.
-I skimmed through a lot of information about foot-binding, about its
origin. There's a very interesting one. Emperor Sui Yang was visiting
the south. He doesn't want men to accompany him, so he found a group of
women. One of them was called Wu Yue-liang. She bound her feet and put
a piece of iron the shape of a lotus on the heel of the shoes. For each
step she took, she would make a lotus stamp on the ground. The Emperor
found that interesting, and asked Wu Yue-liang to show him her small feet.
Wu untied the fabric-the lotus was actually a knife. Wu slashed the Emperor's
arm, but failed to kill him. She killed herself by jumping into the river.
After that, people commemorated her by binding their feet. It's just like
eating mooncakes and having glutinous rice dumplings.
-attach little bells at the back of the shoe to make sounds like the iron
-I'm beginning to think I can do a performance. I haven't done that for
a long time. Do you know I sometimes work as a figure drawing model? It's
the best performance workshop/ training.
-very tired. Let's talk tomorrow.
weird things for my works is a very interesting experience. Every time,
the salesperson would ask me why I am buying such things. If I have time,
I explain to them they are for exhibitions. If I don't, I would let them
say whatever they want. Last time I was buying a sex toy. People thought
I was perverted. I had to pretend it was a prop. This time, I am even
getting married. I went to buy a pair of embroidered shoes in Sai Ying
Pun. I said I needed a pair. The owner asked if I was getting married.
I mumbled. He asked me what size I wanted. I said five and a half. I felt
if I was doing a work, smaller shoes might look better. (Then I thought,
gosh! I must have been influenced by the traditional idea that small is
beautiful.) When I saw that the shoes were so nice, I asked for a pair
of larger ones, ones that suited me. I tried them on, looking at them,
almost forgetting about the work. The owner asked, "Are these to
match your Chinese wedding dress? Usually it is the male who wants the
female to buy themˇK" I thought, men always liked to dress up their
girlfriends like dolls. I said, "I'm the one who wants them."
"So when's your wedding?" I didn't know what to say. I blushed.
Good that he was speaking to himself, "Must be November 7. It's an
auspicious day. Many people are getting married." He asked again,
"Have you rented the Chinese wedding dress?" I nodded. He said,
"Yes. Nowadays the dress, evening gownˇKall come in a package."
I looked around the shop with bedroom stuff and domestic objects. The
display wasn't romantic or elegant. I think most young people won't like
to rent gowns here. But they made me feel very down-to-earth. Isn't that
what marriage is about?
told Po-shan about this at night. We had a good laugh. I didn't fax this
sheet to her.)
October 28, 1997
was flipping through a book called "A History of Chinese Women's
Costumes" and other information at home. There is a photograph of
a bound foot. It's a real bare foot. At first I didn't understand why
there are four "petals" under the foot. Then I realized they
are broken toes bent under the foot.
-I found another book my mother gave me on my tenth birthday. On the first
page, she wrote a poem:
are summer scents to be found?
Fresh from the blooming flowers.
Warm breezes brush an innocent face.
Joy to that which rises pure out of dirty soil."
was born in July! Can I have this printed in the exhibition catalogue?
It has to do with "lotus", and it's also a yearning (of women)
of an older generation for the younger generation.
went home tonight. After dinner, mom talked to me about marriage. I explained
a whole lot. She said she understood. But I know that in her heart, she
isn't sure whether her daughter living away from home is married or notˇK
-villagers here almost call me Mrs Cheng.
-I'll probably stay at home for the National Day holidays to work.
I said that night, I don't' think women bound their feet to commemorate
Lady Moon (Wu Yue-liang). Eating rice dumplings, mooncakes, carrying the
cross during Easter-all these are done only once a year. Such nostalgic
moves. Foot-binding, however, meant days and nights of hardship for years
and years. If it's not for one's own good or some martyrdom, why did they
do that? It's only for the beauty of it. Twisting coquettishly, so that
they could marry a good family. It's so pathetic. I think this legend
was a lie told by parents to cheat daughters into foot-binding.
-of course you can print that! Someone wrote me a poem, too. It's about
"The name speaks the person: crystal clear, kind and dear;
there is no evil, as long as the heart is clear;
bright like crystal (ching-ying), one would be free of confused thoughts
The other one is written by a pen pal I just knew.
two poems can be read as a kind of yearning in male teachers regarding
their female students, or in male friends who first get to know a girl.
Anyhow, these "Just for you" kind of words are most endearing
to the heart. They do not invent any revolutionary genre or carry any
social meaning. But they express the meticulous observation and concern
people have towards others, right?
-I went traveling in the Malaysian jungle once with a not very close male
colleague. (The tour fee was $1,000 less if traveling in pairs.) We never
had any intimate gestures. The tour members (Malaysian locals) thought
that we were a couple (not even boyfriend and girlfriend.) Their idea
is that a man and a woman traveling together is a married couple. Why
don't they believe in what they see with their own eyes? There is a grey
area between men and women. When the bonding is deep, there is no need
to express that.
-if I were you, I would explain to my mother slowly, for instance, how
Ah Lek and Sister Sau (Hong Kong celebrities) lived together and hadn't
got married. No one said anything. As for your neighbors and villagers,
you can just disregard them to save the troubles, right? Lack of principles?
Yes. I'm a non-radical preacher. I make use of opportunities and do my
was really angry today. I wasn't busy with anything, just thinking about
how come I'm serving all these people with a flat, a car and stocks. The
more I think about it, the more frustrated I get.
-it seems you keep on thinking about reproductive issues these days.
-your idea about the video. I think you should do a performance instead.
i) video can be done in multiple perspectives and with multiple comments.
You're not playing with video itself. It's a form of documentary. What
can be made of it if only one part is seen? ii) I'll help you if you do
a performance. No need to be afraid. It's a good way of exchange.
-also, about materials that disgust people, I think this is a worthwhile
direction. Those materials that disgust people don't have to be used in
the most direct or radical way. The one in your video isn't very clear.
It's like accumulating all the materials you like in one piece. You want
to talk about the relativity/opposition/you and me/ relation of pregnancy
and hygienic napkins, right? (is this too much?)
-the pair I told you about today is Mike Kelley/Tony Oursler. They may
suit your taste.
-you stop between lines in your fax. So uncanny.
-we were talking about how honest the work can be. I was thinking, some
of my works are like cutting open my stomach or unbuttoning my clothes.
It's like I was rushing to show people my wounds. Too much gimmick. I
would doubt whether people come for my work or, perhaps, they just want
to peep into the stories behind the work. If I don't reflect on that and
indulge in it, I'm no different from being a prostitute. The best way
is to express that which affects me. There will be a distance between
me and my work. This way I would be more comfortable.
-I was really angry today. I wasn't busy with anything, just thinking
about how I'm serving all these people with a flat, a car and stocks.
The more I think about it, the more frustrated I get. (Right! They should
-it seems you keep on thinking about reproductive issues these days. (Well,
the exhibition is called "P-red".)
-i) video can be done in multiple perspectives and with multiple comments.
You're not playing with video itself. It's a form of documentary. What
can be made of it if only one part is seen? (That's documentation.)
ii) I'll help you if you do a performance. No need to be afraid. (Not
that I'm afraid. Doing that won't generate the kind of serious mood I
I have some thoughts about the catalogue-re-presenting the feelings of
reading the fax sheets. One sheet follows the other, not bound into books;
that is, the sheets come in a roll. Then we put them in a cylindrical
holder. It will be designed like little rolls of Smarties. Isn't this
fun? Such a design would be expensive. We can put in gifts, so we could
get sponsors. For instance, Whisper. We can put slogans on the gifts,
such as slogans that encourage boys to give hygienic napkins to girls
as presents. How's that? Seems I'm going too far.
idea about the catalogue is very interesting. We'll see if the price is
right. Can you ask around if ADC has approved the money? That way we can
keep to our budget. The person I mentioned had done the layout for <<Departing
from Hong Kong-15 Young Hong Kong Poets>>. His design is interesting.
But he can only start after the 15th.
-I talked to Luke a few days ago, about his and my work. He said he didn't
believe in "dialogic work", because very often, one artist would
pick one element from the other one and elaborate on it. I agree, but
I told him our exhibition would work. We also talked about "transformation".
His view is that art should be transformed on several levels. This isn't
unreasonable. It's also consistent with his theory about "multiple
levels of reading." But it has its blind spot and limitations. I
think it's good to keep in mind, especially when I said that your work
might be too direct. I want to push the work in the shop window further.
-that's why I got bored the other day. After talking to Luke, the old
problems surfaced again. I accept what Luke said. But his view is dangerous
because it suggests that art cannot include the "statements"
outside art. I think art can be used to help the weak communities "fight
for power", but I can't deal with this contradiction.
-I'm just like this. I listen to so many views. One sounds reasonable
and the other seems useful. In the end, I can't make up my mind.
-I told you about Wu Yue-liang's story. I'm considering linking it with
the work. It's about "martyrdom." The effect/ symbol may be
similar to Luke's idea.
-I'll fax you what I wrote about your article. Kindly comment.
transformation, it's hard to say whether content or technique is more
important. I don't think we can generalize. Sometimes, we want to say
certain things. Why don't we just shout? Sometimes we find interesting
techniques, and they say something. We also enjoy the process of making
it. So why not do that?
I don't think my work is very direct. If they're political, maybe they're
frank. But for the other works, no one statement can be conclusive of
their meanings. At most, it tells people what theme it relates to. Works
can be interpreted in many ways. As a visual artist, I think my responsibility
is to make works or spaces that leave room for imagination. Visual art
is different from words. It isn't good at discussing things. Sometimes,
I use objects with symbolic meanings. I don't think there's a problem
with that. "Coherent and unexpected" is what I like. "Frank"
may be cliche, but sometimes it's where the energy comes from. I am concerned
with how to stimulate people's imagination. That means I'm traveling between
directness and indirectness. As for "helping the weak to fight for
power," that, to me, is too heavy. My belief is that "everyone
can only start from oneself", to articulate some experience that
is closer to truth. Like Tung Kai-cheung and Leung Man-do said, doing
creative work cannot be entirely public or entirely private. We can only
travel in between.
thinking about the concept of our exhibition. If we compare ours with
"Twin Chan"*, they exchanged materials; it's more primitive.
We exchange works; the characters would be clearer. It's different. Both
are just points of departure. They have different possibilities. We return
to the same place, that is, the works as our ultimate concern. There's
no difference. We can only compare after the exhibition opens.
I think of Taiwanese performance artist Xie Te-xing. He tied himself to
a girl for one whole year, without touching each other. The work is also
about communication. The concept is radical. I prefer the way we work
now. It's not gimmicky. We find new experience in ordinary life, looking
for the extraordinary in the ordinary. This is good, too. It's more relaxed.
We can do what we like to do. Not bad, not bad.
Yuk-keung and Chan Wai-bong's <<Impossible Dialogue>> in 1991
got your postponement notice.
-I found Luk Chi-cheong. He promised to make the catalogue for us. He
works in Joint Publishing. He's a good friend of Ah Wo's. Ah Wo's little
book <<Vision>> is done by him! Now we can put our minds at
peace concerning the catalogue. I'll show him some stuff on Wednesday/Friday
to let him know what we're playing with (he knows you, too!). But he says
a roll of fax paper won't work well, because it's difficult to cut the
paper, and it has to be extended. Our problem now is budget. Ah Wo's book
(48-page, golden four color) costs more than $20,000! We have to discuss
this. I think the design fee is a must-at least $2,000 or $3,000. What
do you think?
wasn't in good shape yesterday. I met XXX. He didn't say whether I have
been accepted or not. He said I should think twice whether I really want
to do the M. Phil. He encouraged me to go overseas and try to find a scholarship.
Gee! Now that every path is open, it's like every path is closed.
-I have an idea for a new work-the one in the shop front. (see illustration)
-I suddenly think, if we follow your idea about the catalogue, how can
we bind it together with the other catalogues?
-I've been thinking for a few days; the previous idea has been changed
in the shop window, I'll put a few pairs of three-inch lotus shoes. The
sole of the front of the shoe will be attached to the bench covered with
mud. The sole of the back of the shoe will have a piece of lead in suspension,
attached to the chain and the high-heel shoes on the second floor. When
someone wears the shoes on the second floor, the shoes below would be
lifted. That would make a stamp on the mud.
irritating. I think if we can't find anyone to take up this metalwork,
we have to change the idea.
I mentioned that day about the saddle of a bike. It makes me think of
the image of the uterus in textbooks. I can think of one work called "From
Day 1 to Day 5". I'll put wax into the saddle turned upside down,
from a lot of wax to less and less wax. What do you think?
I find it fun to watch you set up the exhibition. It reminds me of life
at the Fine Arts Department.
Our exhibition seems to lack the "sketchy" part. I was adjusting
things, and realized if we extend all the objects/ ideas, all the interesting
processes may be buried. Visitors wouldn't see how each one was like in
the beginning, and how our conversation began. I suggest we have a camera
and try our best to keep all the experimental pieces for display in the
exhibition. What do you think?
about time we work on the concluding statement!
When I look at the scattered pieces, I still feel there isn't a "sketchy"
feeling. I wish the exhibition could be postponed for two weeks.
It's true I didn't respond much to your work. There are only <<Seating
Matters>>, <<Witch Chair>> and <<From Day 1 to
Day 5>>. We spent time working in these few days, but we seldom
talked. There was one bitter task after another. Reminds me of what Chan
Kam-lok said, that making a movie is about continuously solving problems.
If you think your attitude towards menstruation/ hygienic napkins is positive,
my works, then, could be read as passive resistance! Indeed, (male) visitors
can get the feeling of having the lower body parts pressed against a hygienic
napkin. But the works still give a sense of "agony"ˇKcounting
the days, not enjoying bike-riding, being scared out of one's witsˇKif
I hadn't run into this opportunity of working with you, I think I would
never have done these works again (I would have returned to a "purer"
direction). Now, looking at these works, I recall a theatre work I had
done with Twenty Beans-- <<The Last Night of the Old Feline and
the Gardener>>. About menstruation, puberty, sexˇKI realize I haven't
changed over the past three years. I haven't grown, I'm still entangled
in the things I've been entangled in. I'm still going around in circles.
The other set, <<Little Foot Matters>>, is also a step backward.
I thought at first that <<Into Flesh>> leaves no room for
development for the shoes. Now I'm thinking otherwise. Would it fall into
the trap of "Orientalism"/ exoticization? I still can't figure
that out. The violence in the work seems to be more internalized and stronger
than before. What do you think? Looking at the shoes with sharp objects,
I think of <<The Orient will always win>>. (Hong Kong movie)
November 17, 1997
remember what I heard on the radio one night: a secondary school teacher
was asked how he taught students the difference between doing ordinary
art and installation (mixed media?). He said installation art doesn't
concern itself with techniques. It emphasizes more on content exploration.
I was aghast at hearing that such a huge school promoting "installation
art" would generate that kind of an idea about installation.
Using ordinary objects for creative work is convenient in terms of expressing
ideas. But that doesn't mean techniques are unimportant. A lot of techniques
are required to transform a certain object, dig out its extraordinary
uses, possibilities and meanings, and fine-tune them in order to express
one's own feelings more accurately. On the other hand, since all kinds
of objects can be used-and all kinds of techniques as well-the more techniques
one knows the better.
I use this exhibition to make a work that doesn't have too much content
but emphasizes techniques as a response to your work. The reference materials
of the work <<Into Flesh>> belong to you. I didn't change
them that much. The work displays a bad language shrine, a stool and a
pair of embroidered shoes. But I don't think anyone would say the works
are the same, because they convey different feelings. Yours is more internal,
while mine is more violent. That means different contents and perspectives
As for violence, your <<Little Foot Matters>> is very beautiful
and attractive, but also horrible and sad. You thought of <<The
Orient will always win>>. I think of Faye Wong-- pretty but cold.
It's like your shoes-pretty but dangerous. It's like women suffering from
having to bind their feet. They learn how to use violence to protect themselves
against others, hurt others, and even themselves.
Faye Wong carefully protects her own private life. She wants people to
listen to her songs. Po-shan, if you go on, would you sing a song for
When you said the exhibition isn't sketchy enough, that's true. Ordinary
conversation isn't polished like this. But I don't know if it's because
I've grown up. I am not as fast and relaxed as I used to when I made works.
I tend to be very critical on myself. I'd rather do too little than too
much. That's why I didn't respond very much to your work. I also feel
talking in private and talking in public are very different matters. Things
that I haven't thought through clearly, I'd rather whispered to you. Let's
do this, ok?