55 Squared

55 Squared: In the meantime

55 Squared

55 Squared

55 Squared

Date & Time

18 May 2021 - 18 Jan 2022 8am–11pm


Parade Ground


Free of charge


55 Squared is a seasonal initiative to activate the outdoor space in Tai Kwun and to engage creatively with the visitors. Artists will be invited to create a unique artwork in response to the historic site, current issues and contemporary concerns.

Yarli Allison


PRISON? GARDEN!, an interactive installation by the artist Yarli Allison, is the third commissioned work of “55 Squared” at Tai Kwun. PRISON? GARDEN! brings together floral characters and architectural elements at Tai Kwun, both physically and digitally; with her fantastic metaphors of solidarity and uprootedness, Allison fills the work with complex emotions of anticipation, excitement, grief, and anxiety.

On the two-dimensional surface of the “55 Squared” wall appear garden creatures that include uprooted plants, crying cats, resting lady bugs, and leaves camouflaged with QR codes. While her floral and botanical characters serve as metaphors for the suffering and anxiety of recent years, the rootedness and uprootedness symbolise solidarity on the one hand, and dispersion as well as diasporic experiences on the other.

The QR codes further extend the work digitally onto the Parade Ground, with an Augmented Reality (AR) sculptural garden where her fictional creatures vividly come to life. Through the AR filter, the artist welcomes visitors into her fantastic garden of pixels; they get to walk through flapping prison gates and under arched prison windows, and approach uprooted plants that apparently appear cheerful and yet are shedding blood and tears. As the artist states, “As viewers step into the ‘pool of tears’, they step into a sense of ‘compassion’, with the Latin root meaning ‘to-suffer-with’: as my vulnerability is exposed, I extend my emotional boundaries to you.”

Allison’s AR garden takes Tai Kwun’s site as the backdrop and the source of inspiration, though the AR filter can in fact be transported anywhere one wants to carry it to. The AR plants are similarly adaptable and portable, engaging audiences to access this digital garden from wherever they reside. By feeding on and sharing each other’s sorrows and care, perhaps our limitations can be overcome.

PRISON? GARDEN! is Tai Kwun’s third commissioned work for “55 Squared”; the work was created by Yarli Allison and supported by MetaObjects. “55 Squared” is jointly curated by Louiza Ho and Jill Angel Chun.

Artist Bio

The artist Yarli Allison hails from a multicultural diasporic background. As the third generation of British, Cantonese and Canadian diaspora and born in Canada herself, Allison was raised in Hong Kong before relocating to Europe. Her frequent relocations and mixed identities have focused her attention to the collective uprootedness and solidarity of migrant demographic groups. As an artist with a multidisciplinary approach that traverses sculpture, performance, digital, film, drawing and installation, Allison fabricates imagined worlds that consist of her invented survival tactics and coping mechanisms, often in interaction with personas or creatures.

Her works have been shown internationally in numerous exhibitions and film festivals. Recent and upcoming shows (2021–2022) include “Decriminalize Futures”, Institute of Contemporary Arts: ICA, London; “Queering Now 2021”, UK; LINZ FMR, Austria; Research Residency at CFCCA, Manchester; and Radical Ancestry, FACT Liverpool (curated by Annie Jael Kwan). Yarli Allison is the recipient of the Hong Kong Art Council Project Grant, Canada Council for the Arts Travel Grant (2020) and Zabludowicz collection (UK) Testing-Ground Workshop. Allison graduated in 2017 with an MFA in Sculpture from Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, UK. She is a member of Asia-Art-Activism London Network.

Past Artwork

I Will Always Be On Your Side, Chan Wai Lap
Unfurling the scroll of space and time, Cheng Hung