Monday, January 18, 2010

Strange/Familiar - Debut Solo Exhibition, November 2009


"離開國土多年,雖然每年都回來探親,但這個城巿急速變化,令他既覺熟悉,又感陌生。究竟他對出生地吉隆坡,或居住地倫敦更有認同感呢?他想了想,回答說兩者皆有,都是徘徊在熟悉與陌生之間。”
谭若瑜,马来西亚中国报,2009 年11月 21 日

“Left the homeland for many years, although he comes home to visit his family all these years but the rapid transformation of the city gave him a familiar as well as strange feeling. Does he feel more at home in his birthplace Kuala Lumpur or London? He thought for a moment and said that he was wandering the spaces between familiar and strange in both cities.” Tham YooYee, China Press Malaysia, 21 November 2009.

Setting up the exhibition

Strange/Familiar is my debut solo exhibition and major exhibition in Malaysia. The exhibition took place at Dasein Academy of Art between 10 and 21 November 2009 during my trip to Kuala Lumpur visiting my families. Thanks to the kind support from Dasein Academy of Art, Mouse Creative, Artprint, and YW Hardware Trading. Also, a big thank to my friend Kim Ng who is also an artist and lecturer at Dasein Academy of Art, offered his help, support and coordination throughout the exhibition on top of his busy schedule. Thanks should also go to Dasein’s student volunteers who offered their time and effort to make the exhibition possible.

Student volenteers, Kim and my wife help setting up the exhibition

Strange /familiar presents a mixture of my new works and a selection of works that I produced since 1999, it includes a body of cross disciplinary pieces consists of sculptures, photographs, and audience interactive performance. The work use familiar objects and mundane activities that people normally uninterested in and will not devote a second thought, they suggest the other side of the insignificant familiarity that potentially greet the viewers with strangeness.

Refreshment was served during the private view

Fried Italian fusilli Malaysian style, a cooking performance on the private view evening

The exhibition attracted interest from China Press, one of the leading Chinese newspapers in Malaysia, who published an article and interview on their paper on 21 November 2009 (Please click on this link to the article)

I also produced a piece of text for the exhibition that is published in the Strange/Familiar’s exhibition catalogue. The text is also published in an art magazine from Singapore called Nanyang Arts magazine (南洋艺术) later, alongside a special interview in their December 2009, issue 29 magazine. This is the text for the exhibition, and it was also being translated into Chinese:

Exhibition catalogue and guide

A life lived in hurry does not allow us to appreciate the many things around us; I choose to slow down my path and take a second look at things. I see devoting attentiveness to the everyday as the basis of my work; they reveal significance within what seems to be insignificant everyday objects and situations.

The seemingly extraordinary of our life can come from something quite ordinary. Therefore the strange can come from things that we are familiar with; they come along hand-in-hand, and exist in a contradictory structure that is simultaneously familiar and strange.

Visitors looking at the sculpture makes out of plastic mineral water bottles

Strange/Familiar is a self-curated exhibition, it is my first solo exhibition where I present a selection of my existing works as well as new works produced specifically for this exhibition. The exhibition contains cross disciplinary pieces including sculptures, installation, photographs, short film and audience interactive performance. The work chosen for the exhibition uses mundane objects and familiar situations that people are unlikely to devote a second thought to. Nevertheless, these pieces potentially greet the viewers with strange familiarity.

'Circumrotation' is another piece of work in the exhibition

My work is about devoting attentiveness to the everyday. The everyday is something ordinary, commonplace and familiar that surrounds us day in day out. Investigating the everyday compels us to confront the things and the totality of the world because the everyday is immanence, ever shifting, endlessly recurring and being. The everyday occurs in a cycle and interpenetrates; it is the beginning as well as the ending of each occurrence. It is endlessly building, deforming and reestablishing. The everyday includes everything, it is everywhere and nowhere simultaneously and one can never successfully draw a line where it starts and where it ends. It is everywhere when one looks at things and sees them, it is nowhere when one looks but sees nothing or trying to ignore. The everyday is present moment, it is right here, right now, and right in front when we are regardful and contemplating it, when our mind wander away the everyday treads past unnoticed.


'Every Corner of My Flat' consists a dust ball and a series of photograph

When we are trying to see something we are being attentive. We are being ignorance when we look but have no interest to see. The everyday in my work is the things that we often overlooked or have no interest to give a second thought.

Some visitors choose to interact with a floor projection piece called 'by the River of Windsor'


My art magnifies quotidian and shares living experience; these may be seen as the result of my interest on the matters of the everyday and Eastern thoughts. Exploring the as-it-is-ness of things, and interconnectedness between objects and people is fundamental to my work; my own cultural background and life experience are often revisited, examined, and evidenced in the work within this journey of exploration. They are not the representation of my life but the essence of my experience instead.

'Swan Cigarrete Folded into a Crane' is a tiny little sculpture


Socrates said that an unconsidered life is not worth living, what he meant is that we must observe important things in life that could enrich our life. I found simple pleasure in art making, like some people enjoy gardening, it enriches my life through observing and contemplating the everyday that is considered trivial rather than focusing solely on the important as suggested by Socrates. This is how my art became a form that relates to a space i.e. a space of self-development rather than self-complacence.


This is a less obvious piece stucks on the ceiling called 'Featherlite condom inflated with Helium'


This is a new piece makes out of used incense called 'BaoYou' (protectiveness)

节奏紧张的生活让人无法真正的去体验生活的周遭。而我却选择了放慢我的步伐往身边的事物多看一眼。我把对日常生活的无限关注视为我的作品的最基本要素,它们显示出了平凡事物的背后不平凡的一面。


A photograph piece called 'A single leaf trapped in Between Two pieces of Paving Stone over a Period of Thirty Days'


不平凡的事物很多时候会在极琐碎的事物内涌现。同样的,陌生感也会在我们非常熟悉的事物中产生。它们是处于一个矛盾的结构之中,陌生与熟悉其实就是一个共同体。

Visitors looking at the piece called 'Labelling Tags Attached to a Clothe'

陌生/熟悉是我亲自制作的展览,它也是我第一次个展。这项展览不但展示了我一些现存的作品,同时它也包括了我特为此展览准备的新作品。这一系列跨领域的作品例如雕塑,摄影, 短片以及观众参与的装置艺术应用了一些司空见惯的事与物作为媒介。一般而言这些事物都是甚少人会给予关注的。总而言之这些作品或许会使观者处于陌生与熟悉的感觉之间。

A visitor spotted another less obvious piece called 'Assemblage of loosed Bristles from the Brush painted the Wall'

我的作品就是关注日常琐碎的事物。司空见惯的日常事物感觉是平凡,寻常和熟悉的,而且它们每天都环绕着我们。当我们想要对这些日常的事物作出研究时,我们会发现它迫使我们面对几乎身边所有事物。这是因为日常的事物是无处不在,不断变更和无尽再生的。日常的事物是循环性发生和互相渗透的,它同时存在于每一件事物的开始和终结,而且它也无休止的在建立,变形与重建。日常的事物包罗一切,它可以无处不在,同时也可以无处可寻。当我们注意到且关注它,日常事物便是无处不在的。但是如果我们视而不觉或者试图忽略,它便无迹可寻。日常事物指的是我们的当下,存在于此时此地,当我们意识到并思索它们时,它们就存在于我们眼前。而当我们不留意时,它们就悄悄的溜开。


Delivering the artist talk

当我们留意去看一切事物,我们使用一颗关注之心。当我们对所见毫无兴趣,我们可以说是作出忽视的态度。我的作品所提示的日常事物就是我们经常视而不见,不给予机会去思考的。

我的艺术作品显示司空见惯的事物以及分享生活上的一些经历。这归根于我对日常事物的关注以及对东方思想的兴趣。基本上我的作品是在探讨物之间的原本性以及人与物之间的关联性。我本身的文化和一些生活的体验都在这些作品内呈现。因为在创作的过程中,我经常重访和探讨我本身的文化背景和生命中的一些经历。它们并不能代表我生活经历的一切,但却是我生活经历的一些精髓。

Another scene during the artist talk

苏格拉底曾说忽视或不思考的生活是毫无意义的,指的便是说我们必须观察生活中重要的并且能丰富生命的一些事物。我在艺术创作中作乐,就像有的人享受园艺所带来的乐趣一样,这乐趣是来自观察和思考琐碎的事物而不只限于,如苏格拉底所指出,去严肃的思考极重要的事物。这种种原因把我的作品形成某个格式同时也把它带到某个空间,它是一个不断自我寻求进步而非自满的空间。

2 comments:

Emanuele Sbardella said...

Congratulations Mr. Pok!
From the photo it looks like a great exhibit. Certainly a significant and important step for your career as an artist. But certainly the term "career" is not appropriate for art, as it is not for life. But we can say that the flow of a river meets occasionally basins and dams that make it more "important". Perhaps this show is one of those stretches where the river increases its capacity. I'm sorry I couldn't come and see with my own eyes. So I thank you doubly for this article written in the blog with so many photos.

All best,
Emanuele

Chong Boon Pok (Andrew) said...

Nice to hear from you Emanuele; and thank you for leaving your comment here. This exhibition is an opportunity for me to put some of the works that I produced together and make a critical review. I certaintly connect with what you said about the term 'career' is not appropriate for art. Artists observe life in art making, and express or reveal it in their work. But, when art being express or revealed in life, art integrated into life and disapeared. Can art being consider as a 'career' in this level? or, art is just everyday life?

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.