Critics’ Picks

Samson Young, The Immortals, 2019, HD video, color, sound, 35 minutes. Installation view, Centre for Heritage Arts & Textile, Hong Kong, 2020.

Samson Young, The Immortals, 2019, HD video, color, sound, 35 minutes. Installation view, Centre for Heritage Arts & Textile, Hong Kong, 2020.

Hong Kong

“Unconstrained Textiles: Stitching Methods, Crossing Ideas”

CHAT (Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textile)
The Mills, 45 Pak Tin Par Street
March 21–June 14, 2020

For this exhibition, curator Takahashi Mizuki brings together seven artists who challenge presuppositions about textiles. The pieces on view in this former fabric mill emphasize the human element of cloth production and, in so doing, evoke the Hong Kong textile boom of the 1920s, which would not have been possible without intense physical labor—most notably represented by Kawita Vatanajyankur’s videos, in which her body replaces parts of spinning machines.

South Korean artist Ham Kyunga’s Are you lonely, too? BK 03-01-01, 2018–19, features its titular question, rendered in silk on cotton by a North Korean craftsman, though the words are nearly lost in a psychedelic optical illusion. Other invisible materials include: middleman, smuggling, bribes, tension, anxiety, censorship, and ideology. On the building’s rooftop garden, Kato Izumi’s four painted headstones (in the form of rocks adorned with rudimentary faces) rest in a row on a bed of fresh sod, while flowers, mint, and shrubbery grow to form their bodies; what sweet, sentimental ghosts. Downstairs, Byron Kim’s hand-dyed and stretched clothes suggest ever more nameless people.

Samson Young’s The Immortals, 2019, a video interpretation of the Chinese folk legend of the Eight Immortals, features vocalists and guitarists performing opera aboard cranes that articulate their mechanical bodies throughout the space; the performers sing of revolution with the ironic tone of activists from the past. Meanwhile, David Medalla’s hung cotton installation A Stitch in Time, 1968–, invites visitors to add to its mosaic of paper notes with a needle and thread. At a moment when Hong Kong’s democratically assembled Lennon Walls have been largely dismantled by pro-establishment forces, A Stitch in Time continues to record the city’s residents yearning for freedom.