China-born Hong Kong artist Ko Siu Lan holds a mirror up to Hongkongers in her latest identity-themed work at Art Central.
Her installation – one of the few politically-charged pieces on display during Hong Kong annual art week – is made up of three rotating pillars. Each has the words “Hong Kong,” “is,” “isn’t,” and “China” printed on them, allowing visitors to create a number of different statements by interacting with the piece. Ko said the design of New Territories Old Territories was inspired by Tibetan prayer wheels.
The aritst, who currently lives in Toronto, moved to Hong Kong when she was six years old. She said she has always lived with a conflicted sense of identity.
“After leaving Hong Kong for so long and after living so far away from Hong Kong for so many years, I identify myself much more as a Hongkonger and I think it’s also because I can see the rapid changes in the city. Not so much 10 years ago when I left, but in the last five, six years, I can feel the city is really changing and tipping over a lot to becoming more like a Chinese city,” Ko told HKFP.
“I feel I think a little sad about that but at the same time, I also feel that well Hong Kong is very unique and very different. I really want to assert this very unique identity and uniqueness of Hong Kong.”
She added that the artistic format enables viewers to reflect on their own changing identities: “Nobody has the final say and actually the meaning is always a little bit self-contradictory. On one angle is one sentence, on another angle, it becomes totally different, so even if you think you’re in control, you’re actually not in control.”
The audience can rearrange the columns to their desired format: “It sort of addresses the ambiguity of Hong Kong’s identity,” Ko said.
Art Central is open this weekend at the Central Harbourfront, with over a hundred contemporary galleries showcasing the next generation of artistic talent alongside established galleries across the world.
The art fair is in its fifth edition and offers a six-day programme of interactive installations, experimental film and performance, engaging panel discussions, alongside food from the city’s best eateries.
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