moving images [projects]

Where to go? Where to come from? (ver. III) @ 2018

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Where to go? Where to come from? (ver.III) @ 2018

For artist Mr. HK, who was born in mainland China and raised in Hong Kong, personal identity can be a complex matter. Mr. HK’s own cultural relationship with his home country and further education in the United States and Europe have given him a nuanced, thoughtful perspective on the much-discussed concepts of identity and belonging in today’s world. In video installation Where to go? Where to come from?, the artist explores personal experiences with contrasting cultural and ideological phenomena, stemming from his travels and study in Mainland China and the United States.

Where to go? Where to come from? (ver.III) is a 5 minute looping video installation, comprised of three constantly shifting components: On the left is a succession of images of a Renminbi coin, all embossed with the familiar bust of Chair Mao. On the right is a set of changing images of the Statue of Liberty, in various shapes and forms. The artist’s own photos are looping between the two sections, shifting from childhood portraits to the present day. All images are looping in sequence with a breathtaking pace, alternating between crisp and pixelated, and through observation the viewer may discern subtle patterns emerging throughout the video; for example, the RMB coins — and the images of Chairman Mao — are fundamentally identical, in contrast with the relatively wide range of representational styles present in the Statues of Liberty, which comes in forms such as stencil artwork, sculpture, paintings and more.

Such patterns were lifted from reality. Mr. HK made his first personal trip to the mainland at age 16, and visited the United States at age 36. Across the span of 20 years, each of these trips provided great cultural inspiration, and he was particularly struck by the stark differences found between the countries’ ideological icons: All images of Chairman Mao are produced according to exacting measurements and standards, resulting in identical portraits, while the Statue of Liberty exists in a wild variety of colours, forms, and shapes, reflecting perhaps a different cultural/political mindset. As a Hong Kong-based art student at the time, the artist’s personal identity and sense of belonging were constantly challenged and questioned, in part provoked by Hong Kong’s unique status as a British colony pre-1997. The relentless looping of images in the video, their visual quality always in flux, reflects a constant mental state of thoughtfulness and transformation.

In Hong Kong, the Occupy Central movement (also known later as the Umbrella Movement) took place in 2014, when the artist was 46 — 30 years after his first visit to Mainland China and a decade after he first set foot in the States. Post-colonial social unrest and discontent had reached a boiling point at that time. The movement challenged the artists’ perception towards his hometown; he realized that Hong Kongers were more concerned about their city and society than he had previously imagined. Mr. HK thus updated Where to go? Where to come from? following the event, to reflect the current political and social climate in Hong Kong, which in retrospect had deepened the searching and cultural conflicts expressed in the installation.

Text: L & HK@ 2108

Title:   何處來? 何處去? (ver. III) / Where to go? Where to come from? (ver.III)
Digital Video Installation : 3 monitors / Screening projections
Length : 5 mins (lopping)
Format: HD Video 1920 x1080 / Sound: Silent
Year: 2018

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