Installation view of APICHATPONG WEERASETHAKUL and CHAI SIRISDilbar, 2013, single-channel video installation: 10 min. Courtesy West Kowloon Cultural District Authority.

Mar 25 2015

Mobile M+: Moving Images (Part Two: Midtown POP)

by Denise Tsui

Complementing the two-month screening program of M+’s latest endeavor “Mobile M+: Moving Images” is a bi-part exhibition showcasing an assortment of artworks—from photography and installations to animations and films—created by 24 local and international filmmakers and artists. One venue, where two large-scale installations are displayed, is the former-slaughterhouse-turned-artspace Cattle Depot Artist Village in To Kwa Wan. Across the water, in the heart of Causeway Bay, Midtown Pop is hosting the majority of the exhibition. The barely one-year-old artspace is a platform for revolving projects and is located in the shiny new complex of Soundwill Plaza II. Sprawled spaciously across the 17th and 18th floors, the exhibition evokes excitement (and at times, annoyance) via our audiovisual senses, as the unending glow coming from screens and projections, and the disquieting sounds of other works, contend for the viewer’s attention. Here are just a few of the standouts from the exhibition.

Installation view of the exhibition “Mobile M+: Moving Images,” at Midtown POP, Hong Kong. In the center is Chinese artist LI RAN’s five-channel video installation, featuring a pseudo-documentary of a staged expedition through an imaginary jungle. Courtesy West Kowloon Cultural District Authority.

Installation view of “Mobile M+: Moving Images” with YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES’s video WA’AD (2014). Photo by Denise Tsui for ArtAsiaPacific.

Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries’ WA’AD (2014), created in the signature flash-animation style of the art collective, is a science-fiction-inspired, satirical and absurd conversation between a female Palestinian astronaut on Mars and two of her friends on Earth. It illustrates for the viewer the experiences of dislocation and need for human connection—if one can keep up and read speedily for nearly 20 minutes.

On a more serious note, Chen Chieh-jen’s Empire’s Borders I (2008–09) is a compelling retelling of discrimination and oppression, presented as a black-and-white single-channel video. It narrates experiences of eight Taiwanese women applying for American visas and nine mainland Chinese women who immigrated to Taiwan on marriage visas.

HASSAN KHAN, Jewel, 2010, 35mm transferred to full HD video, still from single-channel video: 6 min 30 sec. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris.

From the heavy to the slightly more light-hearted is the hypnotizing six-minute video Jewel (2010) by Egyptian artist Hassan Khan. A reimagining of a Cairo street scene as seen by the artist, the film begins with a luminescent anglerfish, which Khan describes as "a monster . . . [that] fascinates us and excites us at the same time.” The blinking light of the deep-sea fish is seen moving across a black screen. Then the video cuts to a configuration of lights shaped in the form of an anglerfish, which is emblazoned onto a revolving black box hanging from the ceiling. As the camera pans out, we see two men dancing around the box, from which plays music composed by Khan. 

Drawing attention to the issues surrounding mistreatment of the migrant workforce in the United Arab Emirates, Dilbar (2013) is an eerily bewitching portrayal of a Bangladeshi laborer as he attempts to earn a living in the UAE. A collaboration between Thai artists Apichatpong Weerasethkul and Chai Siris, the ten-minute video installation—instilled with a ghostly ambience and a dreamlike quality—is accompanied by the incessant sounds of mechanical pounding (typical of construction sites) and the haunting echoes of dripping water.

Denise Tsui is assistant editor at ArtAsiaPacific.