Critics’ Picks

View of “No One to Hear You Scream,” 2012.

View of “No One to Hear You Scream,” 2012.

Hong Kong

“No One to Hear You Scream”

Saamlung
68 Connaught Rd. C. 26B Two Chinachem Plaza
February 17–March 31, 2012

Explorations of space—physical, liminal, temporal—provide the unifying theme for this ambitious group exhibition. Curated by Robin Peckham, it is the first official show at Saamlung, a commercial space that opened last November. Here works by Chen Chien-jung, Gao Weigang, Frank Havermans, João Ó, John Powers, Piers Secunda, and Yaohua Wang transform seemingly familiar buildings, architecture, or objects into something altogether otherworldly. This feeling is underscored by the show’s title, a reference to the 1979 Ridley Scott film Alien, which was promoted by the tagline: “In space, no one can hear you scream.”

The Macau-based Ó offers photographs from the “Threshold” series, 2011. Sakura Cemetery 2, for instance, is a stark image of an interior burial space with graves stretching from floor to ceiling. The lines draw the eye in, making the room seem inviting despite its function. The three paintings by Taipei’s Chen are perhaps the strongest in the exhibition, with Landscape 50, 2010, and Landscape 65, 2011, presenting unidentifiable dreamlike structures through vivid color and lines.

In contrast, Beijing-based Gao’s painting The Third Interior View, 2008, is a realist depiction of a room filled with equipment that is at once familiar and foreign, and ironically the sharp quality of the image does not make it easier to identify the setting. The black cardboard models in Havermans’s “TOFUD # Amsterdam Zuidas” series, 2010, appear to be truncated infrastructure lifted from a futuristic landscape; the inclusion of these sculptural pieces broaden the scope of the show. Overall, the juxtaposition of the various works on view has a discombobulating effect, making the future seem like a vision of the past and a reimagination of the present.