Critics’ Picks

View of “Wong Ping,” 2015.

View of “Wong Ping,” 2015.

Hong Kong

Wong Ping

Things that can happen 咩事藝術空間
1/F, 98 Apliu Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon
September 5–November 15, 2015

A friend recently asked if the name Things That Can Happen—which belongs to a new nonprofit Hong Kong art space cofounded by Lee Kit and Chantal Wong—is intended to invoke some theoretical point about objects and their social lives. The connection was far-fetched, given that the space was conceived in response to what the founders saw as the city’s creative awakening following the 2014 resistance movements, but the question may well serve as a useful entry point into the venue’s inaugural show, “Jungle of Desire,” featuring animator Wong Ping. Better known in film circuits for his sordid urban sex tales told in splashy high saturation, Wong here forays into installation, imbuing the 1960s apartment occupied by Things with an animistic vitality through a display that combines his trademark animations with sexually charged objects. A gigantic phallus stands surrounded by a scattered collection of porcelain fortune kittens, while in the bedroom, a sculptural erection literally protrudes from a television screen. The objects take on an uncanny autonomy that mirrors the fetish nature of the commodity, exemplified most by the fortune kittens, whose beckoning arms have been replaced by wagging penises.

The centerpiece video narrates a salacious story about an impotent man turned voyeur who watches from his closet as his wife prostitutes herself to a police officer. The brilliance of Wong’s animation lies in its simplicity, with intercourse depicted as a rhythmic jiggle of geometric forms. The result is crude in its flatness yet chock full of carnal evocations. Meanwhile, the electric neon colors point to the chromatic blitz that is modern advertising. When the pieces in the exhibition are viewed together, the “jungle” of the title suggests not the return of a repressed natural world into domestic space but, more accurately, the incursion of a new primitivism produced by the excesses of the libidinized economy.