Luke Ching Chin Wai: Liquefied Sunshine | South Ho Siu Nam: Force Majeure
‟Liquefied Sunshine | Force Majeure” is a dual solo exhibition by Hong Kong artists, Luke Ching Chin Wai and South Ho Siu Nam. As an annual recurrence that always returns to the city, typhoon is an integral part of our shared memories and a formative force in our collective psyche. Ching and Ho construct a comparative study of past and recent typhoons that hit the city, and reflect on the coincidence of natural catastrophes and socio-political failures in the current moment. Presenting works made in 2014 and 2018, the two socially engaged artists metaphorically reacted to and foreshadowed the two major civil uprisings in their hometown.
In ‟Liquefied Sunshine”, Luke Ching Chin Wai visualises natural and artificial weather phenomena in Hong Kong and Taiwan, emphasising the correlating realities between the two regions, where major forces, be they meteorological or political, happen in different temporal successions. Through unexpected interventions, such as defaced postcards and artificial rain brought by water trucks, Ching traces a thoughtful pathway to expose our faulty imagination of ideal civic institutions and cityscapes.
Liquefied Sunshine (2014-15) is at once an addition and a subtraction. For what the artist creates in the rainy day, he destroys in the original sunlit landscape. The diagonal strokes could be an abstract representation of rainfall, but they seem more like dashes that cross off mistakes and errors. The typhoon and thunderstorms that ruthlessly hit Hong Kong are no doubt a form of destruction. Injecting torrential rainfall into the bright sunny landmarks of Hong Kong, Ching reveals the many conflicts and destruction in our society. We do not live in bright sunny days.
In the solo exhibition ‟Force Majeure”, South Ho Siu Nam showcases his most recent photographic series, Whiteness of Trees (2018). The series follows his movement in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Mangkhut (2018), the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall in Hong Kong since 1980s. In addition to widespread flooding and riotous destruction, tens of thousands of trees were uprooted and mutilated, their mangled trunks and branches blocking roads and passageways. Ho traversed the transformed city, capturing the fresh wounds on these violently traumatised bodies, against the backdrop of an unmovable concrete metropolis eager to go back to normal. The artist reveals the fragility and resilience of the individual in face of unspeakable violence.
Force Majeure is a common contract clause that frees both parties from liability in case of unforeseeable circumstances, such as war, natural disasters, and act of God. The artist extends this legal concept by asking, what about the social contract? What are the superior forces in our public and private life that warrant nullification and renegotiation? The artist thus channels the psychological definition of force majeure, as irresistible compulsion, in creating Whiteness of Trees (2018). This is his first major body of work since the umbrella movement-documenting Umbrella Salad (2014). Compelled by the fissure in the society he lives in, Ho reflects on the possibility of resistance and the futility of acquiescence.