5354: Neither Here, Nor There

5354: Neither Here, Nor There gathers six Hong Kong artists from the SAIC community. Reclaiming the displaced and disembodied experience of a "long-distance" social practice, 5354 explores the hybrid nature of transnational collective action and its translation across cultures. Sonia Cheng (BA, BFA 2019), Sunday Lai Long Sang (MFA 2018), Adrian Lo (BFA 2017), Celine Setiadi (BFA 2017), Ange Ong (MA 2016) and Justin Wong (BFA 2019) explore the irreversible changes Hong Kong and Chinese visual cultures undergo, and their international portrayal at the crux of postcoloniality and democratic potential.

In Hong Kong Cafe and Chinatown Cafe, Ange Ong photographs “cha chaan tang” - ubiquitous “diner”-style restaurants in Hong Kong - in their tradition as shared public spaces of local economy and their transnational representation. Between fact and fiction, it becomes unclear whether these same spaces are located in origin or assimilated into diaspora.

Performing rituals of ownership and relinquishment, Sunday Lai Long Sang continues Ong’s engagement with local economy and negotiates quotidian activities in transactional spaces. In two single-channel videos, Lai intervenes into everyday geographies of commerce and consumption, the shopping mall and the pawn shop.

Justin Wong explores further the pawn shop’s contradiction: its iconic presence in Hong Kong commercial space and its simultaneous outmodedness in neoliberal economy. With a reduced and abstracted pawn shop sign, Wong initiates a dialogue on the politics of disappearance, tradition and preservation.

Adrian Lo’s Yellow and single-channel videos both move to and away from Hong Kong, pivoting particularly on its contentious relationship to China. Othering the familiar within Chinese nationalism, such as the national anthem, Lo tracks the affects of miscommunication in speechlessness, uncertainty and inexactitude.

+ obfuscates the authentic through play. Collected Objects and Before Frying re-arrange and mutate the local in everyday ephemera, while Terracotta La-La Land couches the isolated audio from classic TV advertisements in Hong Kong within the temporary transfer of bamboo scaffolding architectures - an omnipresent method of construction in Hong Kong - into the foreign space of the gallery. Similarly, in Exclusive Futon Club, Cheng transplants advertisement posters typically found in busy urban areas in Hong Kong onto the facade of the gallery on which she manipulates a widely recognizable fabric from Hong Kong

Hybridised and unfamiliar yet locally resonant, Celine Setiadi’s Cutsticks looks at cultural ambiguity in global citizenship, migration and indigeneity. Coming full circle with the connection between pedestrian material, domestic ritual and collective action, Setiadi’s SHIELD SATCHEL provides novel design solutions to Umbrella Movement activism in Hong Kong. It comes into direct conversation with Ange Ong’s performance, ChorGwo, where Ong intervenes into the inconsistent standards the Hong Kong public harbours for two types of “illegal" occupation - the long-time illicit cooptation of wall space and store fronts by advertising posters, and the unauthorised, 79-day takeover of key commercial areas in the Umbrella Movement - as a way to retrospectively reconcile with the artist’s own absence in the citywide protests.

5354: Neither Here, Nor There was on view at SITE Sharp Gallery, 37 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago, IL 60603, USA from Jan. 26 to Feb. 15, 2017.

Ellie Tse 謝意

Sunday Lai Long Sang 黎朗生
Adrian Lo 盧遨川
Ange Ong 黃慧文
Celine Setiadi
Justin Wong 黃浚如

featured on: Roots: Voices of Hong Kong- an ICRU Fellowship Creative Project, University of Iowa, Iowa City IA, USA