Lam Tung Pang: Saan Dung Gei

Lam Tung Pang: Saan Dung Gei

In Cantonese, “Saan Dung” means “mountain cave”, and “Gei” means notes or chronicles. Conceived as a visual reader and a long-form novel, Lam Tung Pang’s first solo exhibition “Saan Dung Gei” consists of non-linear chapters that describe the allegorical journey of an itinerant traveler. The exhibition features Lam’s latest works made in 2018-2019, with which the artist challenges his own medium and creates a three-dimensional medley of paintings, installations, video sculptures, kinetic projection, and found objects.

“Saan Dung Gei” is curated by Abby Chen as an independent curatorial collaboration. The two have worked together previously on Lam Tung Pang’s solo exhibition, “Curiosity Box”, at the Chinese Cultural Center in San Francisco, USA, in 2013.

Exhibition making of video:

On November 2, 2018, Lam took the recently inaugurated high-speed railway from Hong Kong to Beijing. During the eight-hour journey, there was a 20-minute ride through a dark tunnel in Hong Kong’s territory. On this brief ride through the black hollow, Lam’s usual optimism yielded to a magical realist vision of anxiety and social unrest that gave birth to the title of this work, which literally translates to “the mountain hole notes.”

In declaring his works “the first novel on how Eye lost and found the manuscript,” Lam accentuates the volume of time that manifests in searching and forgetting. Known for his colourful and playful assemblage of images and objects, his newest work embodies a bleak, brutal blast at the present moment that marks a departure into a personal, dusky confrontation with a haunted land.

The audience encounters familiar iconographies in an unsettling otherness. Landscape in operation (2018) shows doctors in scrubs performing an open-chest surgery on a rocky landscape. In the video Hope (2006-2019), the flame of a struck match gives out feeble illumination, only to burn out and fizzle away as the bleached fireworks of Shining Stars in Cave (2018). Lam sees his city as suffering a monumental trauma. His yearning and desire to heal comes from a hope that is steeped in a sense of otherness—he foresees, or even wishes for an overwhelming force to intrude upon this place-to-be.

The desire to return is a chronic condition abundantly symptomized in Lam’s site-specific video installations. In A day of two Suns (2019), four projectors each superimpose a looping video on a diaphanous paper screen diptych, two en verso and two en recto. The same footages were set off against each other randomly, producing an infinite permutation of a similar fate. The uncesasing recurrence recalls the OTALEO Clock (2019) whose hands always return to the same spot at the same minute, as well as the model toy trains in Saan Dung Gei Turns (2019) that runs in futile circles around a hollow wall, always going but never close to reaching.