Monday, March 23, 2009

The Affluenza Exhibition, 19 - 28 March 2009

The Affluenza Exhibition publicity material

Oliver James' book 'Affluenza'

In March 2009, I took part in an art exhibition called ‘The Affluenza Exhibition’; the name of the exhibition is taken from the book ‘Affluenza’ by Oliver James who uses the term to describe the ‘painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.’ The exhibition aims to illuminate the effects that current consumer values have on people’s emotional health and to create a platform for open debate.

An artist impression of 'circumrotation' from my proposal to
The Affluenza Exhibition selection panel

The Affluenza Exhibition’ includes the work of 38 artists spanning a variety of artistic disciplines. Both established and young, up-and-coming artists present their works at the 10,000 square feet former meat packing factory, which accommodate everything from performance events to large-scale installation works. All the artists have been selected by a panel of art professionals: Jonathan Barnbrook (Barnbrook Design), Silvia Sgualdini (Lisson Gallery), Michael Zerwinski (Design Museum) and Hege Sæbjørnsen (Project Manager). I have two pieces of work being selected for the exhibition, there are ‘Circumrotation, 2009’ and ‘Labelling Tags Attached to a Clothe, 2003’.

Installing Circumrotation

Circumrotation, 2009

Circumrotation’ consists a constellation of shoes hanging overhead in a large circle to explore a sense of ‘trapped’ in human living conditions. The idea of a circle has a meaning of infinite in an Eastern context. In the West, it can be related to religious paintings in Byzantium and Middle Ages periods that depict spirituality. The piece is hung approximately six-and-a-half foots above the floor where it provides a rare moment for the viewer to observe the bottoms of the shoes. The worn areas under the shoes suggest the trace of footwork and a journey of our life that indicates time. On one hand, the piece embodies the life of many who live in endless pursuit of power, wealth, or possession. They suffer from imprisoning themselves in competitions, making comparison, and in fear of falling behind; unaware that they trapped in the circle of no beginning and no end, no sense of first and last. On the other hand, it may also be seen as portraying life revolves in causality, what goes round comes around. People and things are interconnected and co-arising as suggested in the teaching of ‘Oneness’ in Eastern philosophy.

Labelling Tags Attached to a Clothe, 2003

Labelling Tags Attached to a Clothe’ put our external world, clothing, and labelling tag into interaction and married their long term relationship to explore a sense of ‘attachment’ that submerges within our inner world. The intention was to allow the physical appearance of the piece to bewilder or mislead the viewer with the paradox of real and unreal, it interacts with the exhibition space in an attempt to present the sculpture close to the everyday. The piece also makes connection to a reality of life where negative aspects of things and human being could be intentionally buried under a blanket of attractive appearance.

Closed up view

I would like to offer my sincere thanks to Leslie Ngu for offering his kindness help to install the work. My thanks also goes to the Affluenza exhibition team, Chelsey, Hege and the rest of the members for their kindness support during the installation and the show. I would also like to say thank you to those who kindly offered their shoes for this project: Debbie (Cancer Research Charity Shop, Finchley), Sue and Linda (Oxfam Charity Shop, Burnt Oak), and Staffs from Cancer Research Mill Hill Broadway. Also, to my friends working in Royal Free Hospital PJ, Ebru, Germaine, Sandra, Shaim, Hanna, and Julia; Friends from London Metropolitan University Mika, Won, and Maurizio; colleague from Church End Library Chairmaine, Heather, Eileen; my friends William Chen, Hua Kuan, and Ruo Bing, my relative Estee and Kevin. Love and special thanks also go to my wife Yvonne Wong who suffered from illness and admitted to the hospital during the exhibition.

Private view evening, 19 Mar 09

The Affluenza Exhibition

20 – 28 March 2009, 10am to 6pm

187-211, St. John Street Clerkenwell,
London EC1

Nearest tube: Angel (Approx. 12 minutes walk)

P.s. My involvement in The Affluenza Exhibition also reports in the Chinese Designers' Region blog. Please follow this link:

Welcome to the ground

Thank you for stopping over. The Ground We Share evolves from my research study where I make a comparative study between the concepts of the everyday in art practice and Zen.

My art practice may be seen as the result of my interest on the matters of the everyday and Eastern thoughts. Over the years, I have produced a body of cross-disciplinary work that explores the as-it-is-ness of things, and interconnectedness between objects and people. My own cultural background and life experience are often revisited, examined and evidenced in the work within this journey of exploration.

In Zen tradition, mindfulness to everyday trivial is important in their spiritual pratice, my research relates this notion of attentiveness from my work to this tradition. Historically, many important twentieth century artists and art groups who expanded Duchamp’s theory of the ready-made and the everyday were also influenced by Zen teaching from D.T. Suzuki and Shunryu Suzuki that can also be related to this research.

In contrast to the Western sociological perspective on the study of the everyday from important thinkers like Henri Lefebvre and Michel de Certeau; I look at it from a different perspective - through the prism of a contemporary artist that comes from an Eastern background.

This blog provides a space to share my activities and information arising from my work and research. You are welcome to be part of this interconnection by posting your valuable experience, thoughts and comments.