Kiang Malingue is pleased to present “Not retrospective”, showcasing less than 40 previous and recent sculptures, photographs and videos by Kwan Sheung Chi. Playing for the third time—after Kwan’s debut exhibition “A Retrospective of Kwan Sheung Chi” in 2002 and “100 things, a little retrospective” in 2012—with the idea of mounting a retrospective, a form of exhibition that emphasises comprehensiveness, totalised coherency, reinterpretation, canonisation and belatedness, the presentation includes important early works such as five videos from the “ONE MILLION” series, a number of curious everyday objects from the project of “Well, you can have what’s left of mine.”, “I am Artist” books made twenty years ago, and a suite of videos and installations made in 2023.
For Kwan, conceiving “Not retrospective” does not entail the need to revisit old works, but accommodates the desire to “get rid of them.” Previous works take up physical and conceptual space, and have effectively become a burden. In relation to the common practice of cataloguing one’s work and belongings before leaving Hong Kong for good in recent years, Kwan is also interested in discovering whether old works can generate new market value, constructing the first part of “Not retrospective” as a store in pure white. Sculptural works and curious objects such as an iron horse in the literal sense that was made in the absence of an original (Iron Horse –– After Antonio Mak, 2008/2020); a whetstone that was disguised as a strangely shaped cigarette pack (Marlboro, 2015); and the artist’s sweat elegantly bottled (L’art s’évapore (formerly known as ‘Eau dévoilé’), 2023/2012)—all cheerfully foreground the commodity status of the individual pieces, readily stocked along with a banner piece that made use of dust jackets of Marx’s three volumes of Capital (Karl Marx’s Capital, 2015), and the “ONE MILLION” series of money-counting videos.
On view in the second part of “Not retrospective” is a selection of Kwan’s latest video works, revolving around the notions of family, sovereignty and sameness. In the three-channel video Handover (2023), the artist himself, his wife Wong Wai Yin and their son hand over a glass made of ice. Being passed from one screen to another, the object completely melts as the video ends. In Defence of Kwan Sheung Chi (2023) stages a speech by Wong, passionately defending Kwan’s practice while condemning those who unjustly criticise him. The official-ideological tone of the speech echoes in Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. (2023), which compiles Star Trek alien group Borg’s declarations to their subjects: “We are the Borg. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. Existence, as you know it, is over… Your existence is irrelevant. We are the beginning, the end, the one who is many. We are all that has been, all that is, all that ever shall be. Your individuality is irrelevant.”
(About Kwan Sheung Chi)
From a series of flitting bills to a bouquet of poised lilies, Kwan Sheung Chi tenaciously pursues across multiple mediums a conceptual practice rooted in criticism of political status quo, assignations of value and modes of existence. Employing simple props to articulate his reflections with pointed focus, Kwan unravels Hong Kong’s relationship with money, its political framework and the livelihood of those who inhabit it.
Kwan Sheung Chi has held exhibitions at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2017); Mill6, Hong Kong (2016); ZKM, Karlsruhe (2015); Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul (2015); Para Site, Hong Kong (2015, 2014); Witte de With, Rotterdam (2014); Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2014); Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai (2013); Hiroshima MOCA, Hiroshima (2013); amongst others. Kwan holds a B.A. degree in Fine Art from The Chinese University of Hong Kong and in 2000 was named the “King of Hong Kong New Artist”. In 2002 the exhibition “Kwan Sheung Chi Touring Series Exhibitions, Hong Kong” was held across 10 major exhibition venues in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Art Centre presented “A Retrospective of Kwan Sheung Chi”. Kwan is also a founding member of local art groups, Hong Kong Arts Discovery Channel (HKADC), hkPARTg (Political Art Group) and Woofer Ten. In 2009, Kwan was awarded the Starr Foundation Fellowship from the Asian Cultural Council to take part in an international residency programme in New York, USA. In 2012 Kwan received a commission from the West Kowloon Cultural District Association (WKCDA) and in 2013 was the winner of the inaugural Hugo Boss Art Prize.