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16 Jan 2020, 28 Jan 2020


OVERBOOKED: A Special Project of BOOKED: Hong Kong Art Book Fair 2020

Led by Louiza Ho and Co-Curated with Ingrid Pui Yee Chu 

16-28 January 2020

OVERBOOKED: features the work of nine international artists: Fiona Banner aka The Vanity Press, Karl Holmqvist, Toshio Matsumoto, Aleksandra Mir, Mai-Thu Perret, Kay Rosen, Aïda Ruilova, Tsang Kin Wah and Wan Lai Kuen Annie. 

Rooted in concrete poetry and related 20th-century movements including Dada, Surrealism, and other modes of non-rational thought that move away from a purely verbal concept of language, these works incorporate and experiment with various formal, conceptual, textual, performative, time-based, sensory and site-conscious approaches. The artworks also explore modes of self-expression and the potential to respond and reconstruct reality within society using aspects of publishing to create new spaces of intimacy, both one-to-one as well as through experiences that disseminate through a multitude, albeit to different ends, at once.

Tai Kwun Contemporary’s Artists’ Book Library is featured as part of the installation. 

List of Works

1. Book Display

Book display of concrete poetry and OVERBOOKED: artists’ publications incorporating a special book display from Tai Kwun Contemporary’s Artists’ Book Library.

2. Tsang Kin Wah 
(b. 1976, based in Hong Kong)
Workers/Actors In The World Theatre, 2020
Video, projector, television, carpet, armchair, cushions, bookshelves, books and light bulbs
Dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artist 
Commissioned by Tai Kwun Contemporary

In his new commission, Workers/Actors In The World Theatre, Hong Kong artist Tsang Kin Wah uses texts within decorative patterns to infiltrate the exhibition site. Appearing as if it were an elegant domestic scene—complete with a carpet, a chair, lights, and interior setting projected onto a freestanding wall—Tsang exposes the contradictions within this mise en scène through images and texts.

Elements of the profane enter in through writings by the artist and other authors, while two clips from 1967's Weekend and La Chinoise by French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard play on monitors alongside publications selected from Tai Kwun Contemporary’s Artists’ Book Library, adding to a pervasive sense of disparity throughout.

3. Kay Rosen
(b. 1943, based in Gary, Indiana & New York, US)
LEAK, 1997/2020 
Paint on wall
675 x 1275 cm
Courtesy of the artist, Sikkema Jenkins & Co. and The Art Institute of Chicago

American artist Kay Rosen engages in wordplay, utilising font, colour, and placement to enhance the effect of her text-based works within the overall site. In LEAK, Rosen has painted 'FLOOR' right side up and 'ROOF' upside down and located these at the precise locations where each word literally defines and metaphorically anchors the space for visitors. Further inspection reveals a break between the ‘O’ and ‘F’ in ‘ROOF’ thus highlighting how the letter ‘L’ appears to have fallen, or ‘leaked’ into the same set of letters and spell out the word FLOOR. Simultaneously literal, visceral, and experiential, LEAK signals Rosen’s capacity to create possibilities for multi-layered readings, interpretation, and understanding through linguistic form.

4. Karl Holmqvist
(b. 1964, based in Berlin, DE) 
Hong Kong Wallpaper, 2019
Site-specific installation
Wall: 336.4 x 594 cm; Platform: 168.2 x 297 x 40 cm
Courtesy of the artist 
Commissioned by Tai Kwun Contemporary

Hong Kong Wallpaper, Berlin-based artist Karl Holmqvist’s newly commissioned site-specific installation, calls attention to the artist’s handwritten notes and drawings. Including his poetry and augmented by song lyrics and the teaching instructions of late 1970s American artist Paul Thek, all appear as photocopied posters covering a walled surface and platform. Holmqvist’s use of reversals, repetition, and word games, reveals a liberating intent—for writer, listener, even for language itself—by offering an alternative to the constraints usually imposed on it, such as linearity or grammatical correctness. Holmqvist, whose artist books are also featured, will conduct Does it seem to be persisting? a poetry reading performance during BOOKED:.

5. Aïda Ruilova
(b. 1974, based in New York, US) 
Countdowns, 2004
Two-channel colour video with sound transferred to DVD 1'23"
Courtesy of the artist

American artist Aïda Ruilova counts French New Wave and horror film, along with music via her experiences in the Death Metal band Alva among her influences. Countdowns echoes her other multi-channel videos and projections utilising rapid-fire editing, tightly framed shots, compact narratives, repeated phrases and cacophonous sounds that have come to characterise her work. This time, different environments—from a dark forest to the underside of a bridge—are used as backdrops for individual numbers to be inscribed in various ways, although never resulting in a complete cycle before looping back to begin again. The result is a high level of suspense combined with a sense of urgency producing intense, surreal moments of dread and anxiety.

6. Fiona Banner aka The Vanity Press
(b. 1966, based in London, UK) 
Phantom, 2015
High definition digital film 9'28"
Courtesy of the artist and Frith Street Gallery, London

In 2012-13, London-based artist Fiona Banner delved into a war-related photograph and ephemera collection. In responding to having found a lack of images documenting the ‘here and now’ Banner transformed Joseph Conrad’s 1899 book, Heart of Darkness, into a glossy magazine. Complimenting the text are images by Paolo Pellegrin who has worked extensively in the Congo, here channelling the City of London through the lens of Conrad’s seminal treatise on war and the human condition. Featured as part of a larger artist book display, the magazine also serves as the source material for Phantom where the magazine is filmed as though being chased down the street by a drone. All reiterate Banner’s central themes surrounding the dualities, conflicts and contradictions of language.

7. Fiona Banner aka The Vanity Press
(b. 1966, based in London, UK) 
Intermission, 2018/2020
Printed polyester flag 656 x 800 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Frith Street Gallery, London

Considering the word ‘intermission’ can mean a full stop, a space between chapters, a duration of unfilled time, or a big break, it makes sense that London-based artist Fiona Banner’s INTERMISSION began as a film, before reappearing over 30 years later having metamorphosed into a flag. Consisting only of the word in capital letters against a black background, it shrouds almost the entire wall it hangs on site. Furthermore, placed beside Phantom, the magazine’s fluttering movements suggests how the word on the flag can also be viewed as a kind of looped projection—perhaps even a return to film, through its shape, black and white tone, and inference to the possibility of ‘self-animating’ being a flag, such as by the wind.

8. Wan Lai Kuen Annie
(b. 1961, based in Hong Kong) 
China Pictorial, 2019
Ceramic: 22 × 19 × 4 cm; Video: 76'16"
Courtesy of the artist and Karin Weber Gallery, Hong Kong

In China Pictorial, Annie Wan uses traditional ceramic techniques to delineate the materialisation of history and time. As Wan’s beliefs move away from her pro-Maoist upbringing, she made this work in an act of memorialisation, a gesture toward breaking down childhood illusions. By meticulously applying a clay glaze to a comprehensive collection of all the covers of China Pictorial and then firing the book in a kiln, Wan turned the book pages to ash, leaving behind delicate sheets of hollowed out ceramics. This publication was one of four permitted to be published during the Cultural Revolution and its nameplate was written by Mao Zedong himself. The covers are layered newest to oldest. This fossilisation of the book is also shown in a video Wan shot, played backwards, returning the covers to their published chronology. The photographs—in their grand historical narrative—reappear to us page by page, the preservation of the book’s form only made possible by the simultaneous destruction of its content.

9. Mai-Thu Perret
(b. 1976, based in Geneva, CH)
An Evening of the Book: 3 Films by Mai-Thu Perret, 2008
Holes and Neon: 19'28"
The Book: 15'33"
Dance of the Commas: 10'44"
Black and white films transferred to DVD
Courtesy of the artist and Mathieu Copeland, London

A Swiss artist of Franco-Vietnamese origin, Mai-Thu Perret's multidisciplinary practice blends feminist politics, literary texts, homemade crafts, and 20th century avant-garde and radical art movements such as Constructivism, Dada and her interest in Bauhaus design and Eastern religions. As part of her long-term, multi-format work The Crystal Frontier (1999-2016), An Evening of The Book serves as an ‘agitation for the book,’ by blending “her reverence for modernist movements [in] questioning personal and communal identities, exploring how both personalities and objects function within the cultural and social systems they inhabit, the nature of utopia, and the compelling power of revolution and ritual.”

10. Toshio Matsumoto
(b. 1932, d. 2017, JP)
Everything Visible is Empty, 1975 
16mm film transferred to HD video
Courtesy of Postwar Japan Moving Image Archive

A seminal figure in the 1960s Japanese avant- garde movement, filmmaker and theorist Toshio Matsumoto (1932-2017) produced work at the time broadcast television and media spectacle was beginning to infiltrate society. In Everything Visible Is Empty, Japanese text in the form of katakana and kanji from a Buddhist prayer are sequenced together with Hindu-Buddhist cosmological imagery. The transcendental quality of this work comes from the bright flashes and repetition, drawing the viewer into the mantric nature of moving image itself. In addition to expanded cinema, and experimental documentaries, Matsumoto worked with Shin-Riken Film Company, founded Ginrin (1955), and collaborated with Jikken Kobo (Experimental Workshop).

11. Aleksandra Mir
(b. 1967, based in London, UK)
Raindrops keep fallin' on my head, 2020
Durational drawing performance
Courtesy of the artist 
Commissioned by Tai Kwun Contemporary

In the words of London-based artist Aleksandra Mir, “The Sharpie [is] the marker of my time and of drawing, as simple the trace of a frail act of performance, of both being lost and of finding one’s way.” Using this everyday writing instrument, Mir’s practice frequently references publishing and mobilises collective forms of mark-making.

Her works are large in scale, and only made possible through this durational and evolutionary process of public co-creation through the collaboration with a team of assistants. For Raindrops keep fallin' on my head, Mir’s first commission in Hong Kong, the artist has gathered image references related to water and rainfall. She conducted a durational drawing performance throughout BOOKED: Hong Kong Art Book Fair using this communal methodology, and along with her artist books feature the result as part of OVERBOOKED:.

Special Thanks: Nathalie Brambilla, Marco Bruzzone, David Chan, Mathieu Copeland, Lena Guévry, Ota Hideki, Elly Ketsea, Tomoto Kitazawa, Ali MacGilp, Primary Information, Printed Matter, Hirofumi Sakamoto, Yuka Uematsu, Alice Walters, Misi Yan, Ikko Yokoyama and Kenneth Young.

All photographs by Tai Kwun Contemporary and South Ho. Coutesy of Tai Kwun Contemporary.

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