* The views expressed on this page are the artist’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of other Be Water artists, and The School of the Art Institute of the Chicago.
About the Exhibition
In Be Water: 和你 Flow (WoLei Flow – “Flow With You”) six Hong Kong artists come together and respond to the mass uprising that has continued to unfold in the streets of their hometown over the past 36 weeks, from summer to winter. “Be Water” has been the principal philosophy and strategy of this leaderless movement, enacting the kind of participatory democratic future Hong Kongers are striving for.
Hong Kong’s hyper-capitalist colonial identity continues to complicate what is home and foreign, East and West, exploitation and self-determination. This range of multimedia works is a consideration of this home from a distance, of the importance of global solidarity in struggle, and the preciousness of truth and dissent.
In addition to the artists’ works as our own personal responses to Hong Kong, there were also platforms and opportunities set up for students to engage the discussion and conversation.
We transformed the front wall of the gallery as a Lennon Wall inviting the SAIC community to respond by posting comments, questions, and thoughts through sticky notes or other creative gestures. Also, a De-centered Historical Timeline was also set up to invite the audience to share important historical events from different parts of the globe and culture.
Two events were also scheduled as part of the exhibition. On March 6th, an Assembly (reception gathering) and on March 16th, a Panel discussion (postponed due to Covid-19 and was hosted later in July 21st, 2020. see video below).
These events were created as we wanted to invite different perspectives and create deeper conversations in a safe environment.
Original text for Assembly
“ Be Water: 和你 Flow will host a reception gathering, titled Assembly, on March 6, 2020.
Assembly references the Public Order Ordinance in Hong Kong that has allowed the Hong Kong government to penalize any protester, which has included some 900 minors as young as eleven years old with criminal offenses of “unlawful assembly” and “riot”.
These designations have been used liberally at the discretion of the police to potentially deem any spontaneous public gathering in Hong Kong with criminality. In doing so, it grants the government wide range to prosecute protesters and government dissenters as criminals, often using photographic identification technology. This has resulted in prison sentences of even non-violent student protesters, some up to seven years. Assembly reclaims the organic social activity of convening by inviting you to gather with us to view work on display in Be Water: 和你 Flow.”
Triad (2019), a video installation that explores the matter of police brutality and the abuse of institutional power which took an active role in suppressing the press in the recent political movement in Hong Kong.
In addition to the physical violence imposed by the Hong Kong Police Force, the selective use of strong strobe lights, used against news reporters to stop coverage of the full story, created a new form of non-physical violence.
In this work, I collected news footage of such incidents together and arranged them into a “video score”. Through a custom-made circuit, news footages are processed and transformed, the resulting sound is aggressive and intense.
For the Be Water exhibition, a large “black cube” was built around the installation, with a set of large black curtains, to cover the video from directly exposing to the gallery space, and audience had to go inside the cube to view the video. However, the strong noises and lights from the video were still leaking all over the gallery.
Covered by the disturbing noises and intense strobe lights, this mysterious “black cube” transformed the gallery and provided a portal for the audience to the street of Hong Kong.
This process replicates the brutality, disturbance, and violence in an experience for the viewers.
*Triad is named for its three-part structure, as well as for its meaning in Cantonese: the Mob.
*This work was modified into a percussion version and was performed at the Focus day of the Percussive Arts Society International Conversion 2019.
As a performer, instrument designer, and composer, my curiosity and fascinations in sound, light, and electronics has informed my practice. I seek for the answer through making work, and this has led to live performance, DIY instrument, compositions, handmade electronics, video, and sound installation. Through my works, I want to encourage and promote the DIY, Maker culture, and importantly, provoke audience’s curiosity about everything in life as well.