Curated by Ying Kwok
“Anonymous Society for Magick” is a group exhibition featuring works of various media by Chen Wei, Hao Jingban, Lam Tung Pang, Wang Tuo, and Trevor Yeung. Curator Ying Kwok borrows the concept of Magick from early nineteenth century occultist and ceremonial magician Aleister Crowley’s definition of Magick as the ‘science of understanding oneself and one’s conditions,’ in a comparative study of how artists apply that understanding to their own artistic practices.
Lam Tung Pang’s The Great Escape (2020) is a large-scale kinetic video installation specially commissioned for the exhibition. Referencing street magician Harry Houdini’s daring escape acts, Lam creates moving illusions that project the desire to escape from the social turbulence and viral feverishness of his home city. Chen Wei meticulously stages scenes of urban amazement and theatrical distraction, working across photography and mixed media installations. The ensemble includes a neon light installation Drifting Along (Hong Kong) (2020), which offers a diagnosis of the contemporary social conditions in China and Hong Kong.
Hao Jingban’s newest video, Opus One (2020), follows a young Chinese couple’s obsessive quest to master the Swing Dance, the jazz dance form popularized in 1930s and 50s Harlem New York by African Americans. Resulting from Hao’s winning the Han Nefkens Foundation – ARCOmadrid video art award (2019), the work is recently debuted in Matadero Madrid. Wang Tuo’s latest video and drawings, Symptomatic Silence of Complicit Forgetting (2020), chronicles the complicated relationship between present and historical past, human and supernatural beings. Like a magic show, it provides a psychological escape for those who wants to believe in an alternative reality. Trevor Yeung recreates Mr. Butterflies (2012), an immersive site-specific kinetic installation in which bamboo palms propagates a carefully orchestrated environment. The human transformation of natural elements finds expression in Yeung’s Night Mushroom Colon (2020), a stealthy bioluminescence that suggests an otherworldly realm. Thriving in unlikely places, the fecundity and resilience of these mushrooms provide a case for survival in precarious times.
Historically, magic has been conceived as the desire to use invisible forces to change the visible world. The link between art and magic displays the hidden rules of nature, investigates the visible world, and showcases the realm of dreams and desires. Against the complexity of social reality, “Anonymous Society for Magick” summons amazement whilst simultaneously revealing the immanent truth within our surroundings.