Crush @ Para Site gallery, Hong Kong

14/10/18 GDLP

Emoji summary: ↖️💔↗️


i watched an insurance or master card advert on the telly last year where a man was in a shop buying like, skis or something because he was newly divorced and finally able to do what he wanted in lyf. i was sat next to my boyfriend on the couch while it played and it hit me that my skis would be travelling to new countries and that if we broke up tomorrow, i’d be getting on a plane. just because i’ve been scared of missing him too much but yeah. my little heart slowed down, n then settled n grew bigger and I decided that next time I had enough savings and there was a break in my calendar, i would go on holiday on my own and see the world even if it meant a bit of missing him.

    Last week I went to Hong Kong for 6 days aaaaand no, I was good, big. found travelling alone DEEPLY satisfying. It’s like I’d entered a personalised timezone where I could do things at my own pace, sleep and wake when I was ready. dress differently because no one here expects anything consistent of me, they don’t know me; could choose dinner without compromise. I was free from the structure of my normal life, my two jobs, my anxiety. instead I was floating, eating sui mai on a street corner, cheung fun + char sui all day. I’d come full circle: I was conceived in HK, and my mum has always told me I’d love it. she was v right, and I know this is not a review of hong kong lol but I just need to praise it for a second: that it was ordered chaos, convenient, a maze of things to find but without the fearing of getting lost, like I never fell off the edges, i don’t think they existed. Goldfish markets, toy poodles in backpacks, walkways, hazy sunset skies, rich people, and train stations full of bakeries selling £1 gourmet deserts. better than new york in all imaginable ways. The safest I’ve ever felt elsewhere. Every meal I had was under a fiver (without trying), except one that was from a michelin star chef and that was only EIGHT POUNDS. i have a really pointless love for claw machines - pointless because i’m not even good at them - and there were claw machines 2 be found in ALL the shopping arcades. and because no one was around to get bored, and I had no job to feel guilty about neglecting, u bet I spent my hong kong dollars trying to win a togepi plushie which now hangs proudly on the window in my bedroom ha ha ha. one shopping mall i went into had a rollercoaster running through it. I hadn’t realised HK was more than Sim City as well, that you could get a train n bus 40 mins out of central and be at a fishing village so soon. one afternoon I got a small boat with a cute cat flag to an island. hardly anyone else was there n I got into the sea and teared up because life was so quiet. I listened to a jonathan van ness podcast n my chest was tight with pride and lightness, I was so anxiety-free and grateful to myself for walking out my front door and going to hong kong. I’m 24 and childless, petless, houseless; i am unattached and brave and i’ve been living at home saving for the past two years to no end until this. It was Golden Week in mainland China, a 7-day national holiday, so HK was busy with tourists. but tbh no, golden week is my national holiday now and specifically it was this week away because when else in my life could something happen like this.

    towards the end of the holiday I decided I should see some art bc - i know I’m a critic but - i wondered if art might be a good kind of company, sth i could walk away from if it was too chatty or harsh during golden week. I visited the White Cube puuurely so I could pose outside covering the ‘C’ on the sign and instagram it; and when i did venture inside the Mona Hatoum show they had on was just a bit boring and sad, like someone left art in an attic and had only just remembered it was up there. I’d had a lot of recommendations for Para Site gallery too and it’s there i found a show i wanted to write about. the space is COOL, dimly lit, and takes the top floor of a commercial block. the exhibition they have on atm is called ‘Crush’ curated by Qu Chang, and on first walking in it felt like an overwhelming showroom: a little bit degree show, a bit much. Every form was waiting for me: painting, photography, sculpture, video, lights, installation, radio play, books, front AND back projection. I wanted to see the wood 4 the trees, and at first i couldn’t n realised why: because where most exhibitions would have some full opaque 8x4 standalone walls to show more work etc, Para Site had a few half-walls that art could sleepily lean against, that viewers could look at and then look over. This is a weird thing to bring up maybe, but i think I loved the walls? it meant you could see through space, made me feel tall;; sculptural curation, did something physical like air conditioning n ventilation, healthy for the art + me.

    And the art itself, well, I was confused. There was a strand of work responding q obviously to the ‘Crush’ title’s lead: heart break, love lost as well as love that never even got off the ground. The more nuanced work fell by the wayside for me, often i didn’t see the point of it in this show, and wished it wasn’t there. it was the little bits of food debris clogging up the kitchen sink plughole. i guess i wanted an easy compilation and this was like trying to figure out why a very uncoordinated group of people are sitting together at a table. this happened at Nando’s once, and myself and friends were looking at them in all their different ages and styles and eventually had to ask how this group knew each other. turns out they were bus drivers having lunch lol. Yeah i felt the same way about this exhibition. for example,, there were two plinths with (at first) very-Frieze looking sculptures on them, but more softlyyyy they were bouquets made of flowers cut out from greeting cards, by artist Magdalen Wong. first bouquet was sourced from sympathy cards, the other from romantiqqq ones. u could sense their different moods from the palette and shape, n that glossy or sometimes glittered finish. Kk I get that, but on the other side of the room and by the same artist there were big framed blue and white watercolour paintings depicting 'the glare from the familiar sparkles surrounding the logos of various cleaning detergents.’ por quoi. the curation constantly had highs and lows like this. There was a great video by Marge Monko playing out loud in the space, of a screen recording of an email written live as the narrator confessed their love to someone. it referenced chris kraus, a beatles song - and then cut to that song on YouTube, n i like tha. The film was so carefully urgent, so poised and messy in its content that I was scared for the reply the sender might receive. perfect circle of a film. And again, we dip: on another wall, you had South Ho’s photographs of plugs. why why why. Up: a silvery oil painting portrait by Huang Jingyuan of a child with emotional face n arms crossed against their chest in typical socialist China patriotic gesture, makes for an interesting inclusion when kids are already in a relationship with the state. And back down: Lua Wai’s work which in itself is researched, feisty n i appreciate that, but it didn’t make sense for this show. the artist had taken the dominant look and sensibilities of a Hong Kong woman from the western visual imaginary and edited that figure into stills from classical hollywood films. ok but why was it here i am confused

    the show could have done more with less, bc the way it stands pulled me as a visitor in too many directions n i couldn’t really enjoy a single work, couldn’t get into it or FEEL the whole drama that an exhibition about crushing love could instil cause the curation was distracting. glad to have been introduced to so much good work but i should have worn blinders, it might have been better that way. 


Crush is on until Nov 25

b͓̽e͓̽s͓̽t͓̽ ͓̽v͓̽i͓̽e͓̽w͓̽e͓̽d͓̽ ͓̽i͓̽n͓̽ ͓̽l͓̽a͓̽n͓̽d͓̽s͓̽c͓̽a͓̽p͓̽e͓̽
͓̽o͓̽r͓̽ ͓̽o͓̽n͓̽ ͓̽a͓̽ ͓̽d͓̽e͓̽s͓̽k͓̽t͓̽o͓̽p͓̽

{ 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔬𝔫𝔩𝔶 𝔯𝔢𝔞𝔰𝔬𝔫 𝔗𝔥𝔢 𝔚𝔥𝔦𝔱𝔢 𝔓𝔲𝔟𝔢 𝔠𝔞𝔫 𝔰𝔱𝔦𝔩𝔩 𝔢𝔵𝔦𝔰𝔱 𝔦𝔰 𝔟𝔢𝔠𝔞𝔲𝔰𝔢 𝔰𝔬𝔪𝔢 𝔬𝔣 𝔬𝔲𝔯 𝔯𝔢𝔞𝔡𝔢𝔯𝔰 𝔠𝔥𝔬𝔬𝔰𝔢 𝔱𝔬 𝔰𝔲𝔭𝔭𝔬𝔯𝔱 𝔲𝔰 𝔢𝔞𝔠𝔥 𝔪𝔬𝔫𝔱𝔥 𝔳𝔦𝔞 𝔓𝔞𝔱𝔯𝔢𝔬𝔫. 𝔚𝔢 𝔰𝔬𝔪𝔢𝔱𝔦𝔪𝔢𝔰 𝔡𝔬 𝔱𝔞𝔩𝔨𝔰 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔬𝔱𝔥𝔢𝔯 𝔧𝔬𝔟𝔰 𝔟𝔲𝔱 𝔓𝔞𝔱𝔯𝔢𝔬𝔫 𝔦𝔰 𝔥𝔬𝔴 𝔴𝔢 𝔤𝔢𝔱 𝔭𝔞𝔦𝔡 𝔣𝔬𝔯 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔞𝔠𝔱𝔲𝔞𝔩 𝔴𝔯𝔦𝔱𝔦𝔫𝔤 𝔥𝔢𝔯𝔢 - 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔯𝔢𝔳𝔦𝔢𝔴𝔰 𝔫 𝔞𝔯𝔱 𝔱𝔥𝔬𝔲𝔤𝔥𝔱𝔰 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔰𝔬 𝔬𝔫. 𝔄𝔫𝔡 𝔦𝔱'𝔰 𝔰𝔬 𝔦𝔪𝔭𝔬𝔯𝔱𝔞𝔫𝔱 𝔱𝔬 𝔲𝔰 2 𝔱𝔥𝔞𝔱 𝔴𝔢 𝔠𝔞𝔫 𝔰𝔱𝔞𝔶 𝔦𝔫𝔡𝔢𝔭𝔢𝔫𝔡𝔢𝔫𝔱 𝔠𝔯𝔦𝔱𝔦𝔠𝔰 𝔴𝔦𝔱𝔥𝔬𝔲𝔱 𝔱𝔦𝔢𝔰 𝔱𝔬 𝔟𝔦𝔤 𝔣𝔲𝔫𝔡𝔢𝔯𝔰 𝔬𝔯 𝔦𝔫𝔰𝔱𝔦𝔱𝔲𝔱𝔦𝔬𝔫𝔰, 𝔭𝔲𝔟𝔩𝔦𝔠 𝔬𝔯 𝔭𝔯𝔦𝔳𝔞𝔱𝔢. 𝔗𝔥𝔞𝔫𝔨 𝔶𝔬𝔲 𝔣𝔬𝔯 𝔟𝔢𝔦𝔫𝔤 𝔬𝔲𝔯 𝔬𝔩𝔡 𝔱𝔦𝔪𝔢𝔶 𝔭𝔞𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔫𝔰 - 𝔴𝔢'𝔩𝔩 𝔡𝔬 𝔬𝔲𝔯 𝔟𝔢𝔰𝔱 𝔱𝔬 𝔭𝔯𝔬𝔡𝔲𝔠𝔢 𝔮𝔲𝔞𝔩𝔦𝔱𝔶 𝔬𝔲𝔱𝔭𝔲𝔱; 𝔴𝔯𝔦𝔱𝔢 𝔰𝔱𝔲𝔣𝔣 𝔱𝔥𝔞𝔱 𝔦𝔰 𝔱𝔥𝔬𝔲𝔤𝔥𝔱𝔣𝔲𝔩 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔰𝔦𝔫𝔠𝔢𝔯𝔢. }

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