Critics’ Picks

Ho Rui An, Asia the Unmiraculous (detail), 2018–, lecture, video, ink-jet prints, LED lights, acrylic, books, magnet, dimensions variable.

Ho Rui An, Asia the Unmiraculous (detail), 2018–, lecture, video, ink-jet prints, LED lights, acrylic, books, magnet, dimensions variable.

Kuala Lumpur

Ho Rui An

A+ Works of Art
d6-G-8 D6 Trade Centre
August 26–October 24, 2020

Ho Rui An’s first solo exhibition in Southeast Asia delves into the compromises that the East made to achieve capitalist modernity—and the repercussions thereof. The performance-turned-installation Asia the Unmiraculous, 2018—, consists of videos of Ho’s lecture at the Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media, the images which accompanied his presentation—all related to the Asian financial crisis of 1997—encapsulated in light boxes, and key texts by formidable statesmen marking the region’s defiant turn away from the West. Asia the Unmiraculous takes the audience on a journey through the continent’s uneasy ascent to the global stage, beginning in the 1960s with the miraculous rise of the “Four Asian Tigers,” the economies of South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. A rotating hand hovers above the table, suggesting the ambivalent nature of the “invisible hand” that supposedly regulates the free market: these forces played a pivotal role in the unprecedented growth of international capital in Asia, but also led to a monetary drain during the financial crisis that wreaked havoc in the region.

Student Bodies, 2019, depicts the turbulent political histories of students in Japan, Korea, Thailand, and Singapore. As in a horror film, a low hum of industrial and mechanical sounds provides a sinister sonic backdrop. Borrowing from the writings of influential politicians, the film’s subtitles narrate how students, indispensable to the modernization of a state, became its most outspoken protestors.

The exhibition charts Asia’s new horizons, but stops short of speculating about its future. True enough, political leaders of the East had once gone West, but became disillusioned and returned home, resulting, for the first time since the Russo-Japanese War, in an Asian power capable of contesting Western hegemony.