Installation view of LEE KAI-CHUNG’s The Order of Things (Casting Bidders) (2017), for the exhibition “Other Sides of Evidence” at Osage Gallery, Hong Kong, 2017. Courtesy the artist and Osage Gallery. 

LEE KAI-CHUNG, The Order of Things (Casting Bidders), 2017, still from three-channel video installation: 11 min 37 sec. Courtesy the artist.  

Other Sides of Evidence

Osage Gallery
Hong Kong

With terms such as “fake news” and “alterative facts” becoming normalized in mainstream media as of late, Osage Gallery’s currently exhibition “Other Sides of Evidence,” is a timely exploration of the concept of truth. In this light, three young Hong Kong artists and an art collective—Lam Siu-wing, Eric Tsang, Solomon Yu and Archive of the People—delve deeper into the relationship between truth and its manifestation in contemporary art, revealing circumstances where “evidence” does not translate into facts, despite appearing to have been documented from reality. Each artist drew inspiration for their work from a real-life photograph; the artists then take creative license upon these images and develop works that ultimately blur the distinction between fact and fiction.

Inside the gallery, visitors first encountered a three-channel video, The Order of Things (Casting Bidders) (2016–17) by Archive of the People founder Lee Kai-chung. The work is part of the collective’s ongoing project “The Order of Things” project (2016– ), which investigates various systems under the Hong Kong government. In the video, Lee focuses on the manipulation, from both the government-authorized auctioneer and the bidders, of public auctions organized by Hong Kong’s Government Logistics Department (GLD), who regularly hosts auctions of confiscated or unclaimed goods. With an understood collusion between the participating parties, Lee refers to the public auction process as a staged performance—with the winners already determined—and as such, hired professional actors to intervene in an actual auction. The video’s central screen documents the actors’ auditions, where he asked them to emotionally respond to the events of an auction, which was playing on a nearby TV screen. Emoting disappointment, anger and frustration, the actors were to assume the role of a losing bidder. Simultaneously projected on the two adjacent screens were candid, close-up shots of the actors practicing their emotional reactions.

The starting point for Solomon Yu’s prints Pausing a Live Conversation (2017) was an image of a Chinese news broadcast, a form of information distribution one comes across most frequently and perhaps, assumed to be the most accurate. Fascinated with the way in which early news broadcasts change the background design of the news desk to enhance a headline, Yu depicts three versions of a single screenshot taken from archival news footage. In one photo, Yu removes the broadcast background image entirely, leaving only the two news anchors in the picture frame. This is juxtaposed with two other images where the background has been abstracted with different color filters. By doing so, Yu enhances a sense of artificiality and prompts viewers to consider the construction of messaging even within a news agency. 

SOLOMON YUPausing a Live Conversation (detail), 2017, digital print on plexiglass, metal stand on trolley, dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist. 

Installation view of ERIC TSANG’s We Have Roads (2017), for the exhibition “Other Sides of Evidence” at Osage Gallery, Hong Kong, 2017. Courtesy the artist and Osage Gallery. 

While Yu digs through archives for his source material, Eric Tsang’s mixed-media work, We Have Roads (2017), also looks to the past; his approach tinged with nostalgia for a lost love. From the past few years, Tsang collected photos from social media that captured sites of car accidents and traffic jams. This pastime led him to discover reoccurring images of accidents involving couples, which humanized the experience and heightened his sense of intimacy with strangers. In the exhibition, each photo has two figures extracted, leaving ambiguous their identity and the state of their relationship. In the nearby wall text, Tsang explained the motivation behind the work:  “Love is just like car accidents.” The traffic photos are interwoven with personal photos, making unknown which images belong to the artist and which he sourced online.

Installation view of SWING LAM’s The Dragonfly (2017), for the exhibition “Other Sides of Evidence” at Osage Gallery, Hong Kong, 2017. Courtesy the artist and Osage Gallery. 

Reminisces of a past relationship are also seen in the text of artist Swing Lam. His nine-chapter graphic novel The Dragonfly (2017) is a first-person account of a character succeeding his ex’s job and his process of overcoming the breakup. Based on the artist’s own experience, the novel blurs the line between romance and morbid infatuation. The main character, namely Lam, collected everything his ex-girlfriend touched or used during the course of their relationship. Both Tsang’s We Have Roads and Lam’s The Dragonfly shows how an event, when confounded with emotion, skews one’s perspective and reality.

Evidence serves as documentation of facts and simply overlooked details, but can also be manipulated. Though prompted by seemingly “objective” images, the four artists have expanded on this notion of truth to convey emotionally-driven pieces that carry their doubts toward others and society at large, forming a version of their own reality, and a patchwork of their own truths.

Zoey Tang is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.

“Other Sides of Evidence” is on view at Osage Gallery, Hong Kong, until February 25, 2017. 

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