Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art
Curated by Tyler Russell
September 9 – October 15, 2016
Opening Reception: September 9, 7 -10pm
Artist Talk: September 10, 4pm
Two years ago this September citizens in Hong Kong flooded and occupied areas of the city, an expression of frustration with the ongoing deterioration of One Country, Two Systems, and in particular, to challenge a provision that candidates for Hong Kong’s Chief Executive are selected by an electoral college heavily populated by members with close ties to Beijing. It was an extension of earlier protests against the Moral & National Education (MNE) curriculum. MNE is a policy that aimed at nurturing students’ patriotism towards China and cultivating their “sense of belonging to the motherland.” Concurrent with the release of this policy, materials were produced that not only eliminated the Cultural Revolution and the horrors of The June 4, 1989 incident, but further sought to inform school aged children that the Chinese Communist Party was an “advanced, selfless and united” ruling group while bemoaning democracy’s flaws. The US political system, for instance, is said to cause suffering because of inter-party bickering. True as that may be, and as flawed as the American system may be, to teach children that things are better when people have neither voice nor the agency to implement democratic will, and that moral citizens are citizens who unquestioningly accept the enlightened benevolence of the CCP, is a little beyond the pale.
Understandably, concerned students and their pro-democracy supporters hit the streets to tell the authorities where they could shove their curriculum. Though these pro-democracy, pro-Hong Kong forces were able to delay implementation of the MNE, it was only a tiny victory in a war whose loss was, through a 1984 agreement between Hong Kong’s former British Colonial rulers and Chinese authorities in Beijing, may have already scheduled for July 1, 2047.
In a manner echoing 1997 handover anxieties and post-Tiananmen trauma, these events were forcing a young generation to come to terms with a long life in socio-political limbo-space where they would be resisting a fate whose seal they may, through long persistent effort, one day overcome – like the stone that Sisyphus was bound to failingly roll up a hill over and over again.
It was, and continues to be Kafka and Camus in the tidy package of a 50 year time bundle; the constant march of oppressive bureaucratic nonsense, blended with the Sisyphean fate of having the opportunity to make the hopeful choice to roll the stone of basic rights and dignity, up the ever-increasingly steep hill of Chinese State power again, again and again, for what may well be an eternity.
Featuring a pair of works, The Remnant of My Volition (Force Majeure) (2014) and Frustration of Having More than Two Choices to Make in Life (2013), in Mean Time, Wong reaches beyond the Hong Kong specific context and invites viewers to consider the inevitable, merciless persistence of time, and to, despite life’s absurd and overwhelming circumstances, dare hope in its possibility.
MORGAN WONG currently lives and works in Hong Kong. Shortlisted for the Sovereign Art Prize and featured in Hong Kong Basel Encounters, Wong has exhibited extensively in Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Australia and Europe, but this exhibition marks Wong’s North American debut.
Artist Talk hosted by Howie Tsui
Saturday, September 10, 4pm
at Centre A, 229 East Georgia Street