Portals, Stories, and Other Journeys

Portals, Stories, and Other Journeys

Portals, Stories, and Other Journeys

bewitched, bewildered, bothered

Date & Time

23 Apr - 1 Aug, 2021 Tue-Sun | 11am–7pm


JC Contemporary


Free of charge


Presented by Asia Art Archive

Curated by Michelle Wong

Portals, Stories, and Other Journeys stems from Asia Art Archive’s research since 2014 into the personal archive of the late Hong Kong–based artist Ha Bik Chuen (1925–2009). A self-taught sculptor and printmaker, Ha left behind a vast personal archive—his “thinking studio”. He documented exhibitions that he attended from the 1960s till the 2000s, and kept records in the form of ephemera, negatives, contact sheets, and photo albums. He also collected printed matter like illustrated magazines, and created book collages from these publications. As an autodidact, Ha’s library contained books on art and visual culture from far beyond the port city of Hong Kong. Ha’s idiosyncratic ways of collecting, organising, and regrouping materials blur the boundaries between document and artwork.

This exhibition comprises ten “sets” that share what this archive can do—how it fuels practices of artists, and how it shapes and shifts our understanding of Hong Kong’s history and art. Five of these sets present new commissions by artists Banu Cennetoğlu (Istanbul), Kwan Sheung Chi (Hong Kong), Lam Wing Sze (Hong Kong), Raqs Media Collective (New Delhi), and Walid Raad (Beirut/New York). Some of these artists began their engagement with Ha’s archive in the past year in preparation for this exhibition, while others have had years of continuous conversation with AAA. Each artist brings their own stories relating to Ha’s archive—they respond to various facets of his archival and art practice, as well as AAA’s ongoing efforts to make the archive accessible. The remaining sets restage documents and historical objects in new contexts made possible by research into Ha’s archive. These articulations construct more complex narratives about Hong Kong’s art ecology of the last five decades, and reveal parts of Hong Kong’s cultural worlds that are not always visible.

Each set is a carefully composed ensemble of images, objects, and stories, guiding us to explore our sense of scale, self, and history. These sets become portals leading visitors from one place to another, perhaps even more than one place at a time, defying rules of spatiality and temporality. They make way for (un)timely encounters across geographies, affects, and times. They juxtapose different kinds of knowledge created through artistic, scholarly, and curatorial ways of engaging the archive. Together, these sets catalyse a condition where artistic speculation and research inquiries of disparate contexts and sources collide.

Online Guided Tour

Exhibition Views

Artists Bio

Banu Cennetoğlu is an artist based in Istanbul. Her practice incorporates methods of collecting and archiving, and enquires into the politics of the production, classification, and distribution of knowledge. Cennetoğlu partners with institutional collaborators to make this list visible through public display structures such as billboards, street posters, and newspaper supplements. Cennetoğlu is the founder of BAS, an Istanbul-based, artist-run space dedicated to artists’ books and printed matter. She participated in Asia Art Archive’s Residency Programme in 2019. 

Ha Bik Chuen (1925–2009) was a Hong Kong–based artist who made prints, sculptures, collage books, and was also a prolific photographer. He publicly showed prints and sculptures, but kept most of his photographs and all his collage books private. Born in Guangdong in 1925, he moved to Hong Kong via Macau in 1957. An artist who did not receive any academic training, Ha’s curiosity for art led him to collect printed matter and document exhibitions through photography. With his passing, Ha left behind a vast archive that form a crucial part of Hong Kong’s cultural history. These materials are key to the ongoing writing of Hong Kong’s art history. 

Kwan Sheung Chi is a multidisciplinary artist practising in Hong Kong. Kwan’s practice is a continuous reflection and critique on the relationships between individuals and apparatuses of capital and power. His works span a variety of mediums, including moving image, installation, and performance, and some of his works explore the idea of obstruction. In 2008, Kwan created Ask the Hong Kong Museum of Art to borrow “Iron Horse” barriers: I want to collect all of the “Iron Horse” barriers in Hong Kong here, which in turn became the genesis of his work in this exhibition.

Lam Wing Sze is a Hong Kong–based video artist who also works in museum education. Lam’s image narratives are often composed of scenes and situations she encounters by chance, but also those that she both anticipates and manipulates. Her role as an image-maker is to create a situation that gives the audience a viewing experience, opens up a conversation with that which was captured, and generates new meaning. Lam looks at scenery in the city and inverts daily observations into moving images that depict the perception and reflection of seeing. This exhibition is the first collaboration between Lam and AAA.

Raqs Media Collective (Monica Narula, Jeebesh Bagchi, and Shuddhabrata Sengupta) is an artist collective, based in New Delhi, whose diverse practice spans objects, lexica, films, publications, gatherings, curation, and lecture performances. Raqs also has a long-term practice of collaborating with arts and media practitioners, as well as architects, theatre directors, urbanists, scholars, and other public intellectuals. Raqs Media Collective was AAA’s first international artist-in-residence in 2009. In 2016, Raqs included Ha Bik Chuen’s archive in Why Not Ask Again, the 11th Shanghai Biennale, which they curated.

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