KACEY WONGUnbroken Passage, 2015, mixed-media installation with Honda Shadow 750 motorcycle, dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and Hong Kong Heritage Museum.

Walking in the Dreams

Hong Kong Heritage Museum
Hong Kong China

At any given moment, there are millions of people who are dreaming. All of us dream, but what are our reveries really like? The group exhibition “Walking in the Dreams,” currently showing at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, located in the city’s Sha Tin neighborhood, presents possible answers to that question. Ten emerging Hong Kong artists and one art collective present their own interpretations of “dreaming” across various mediums, including sculpture, installation, video and painting.

Kacey Wong’s Unbroken Passage (2015) examines the delusional nature of our sleep-induced visions. A video capturing the inside of a tunnel in motion is projected onto a screen, and in front of it is placed a real-life motorcycle, which is supported by countless ropes that are attached to the walls. Similar in setup to motorcycle-racing arcade games, the installation appears as if the vehicle is racing through the tunnel along a highway. Just as the scenery in the projected footage is about to reach the exit of the tunnel, the film begins to rewind in silence. With the illusion broken, the audience is dragged back to the video’s starting point and, eventually, to darkness.

TAM WAI-PINGDream No Dream, 2015, installation view of “Walking in the Dreams” at Hong Kong Heritage Museum, 2015. Courtesy the artist and Hong Kong Heritage Museum.  

Similar to Wong’s mixed-media work, Tam Wai-ping’s room installation Dream No Dream (2015) challenges audience perception by presenting a scene that is both realistic and dreamlike. Tam’s fantasy is manifested as a convoluted labyrinth with white walls. Passing through a narrow corridor and rounding the first turn, visitors are welcomed by a mundane studio setup with a table and a chair. On the table is a lamp and a blue, hardcover book—of a fictional story written by Tam—with colorful photographs of people sleeping glued onto its pages. Projected onto a false window within the space are photographs of seascapes, creating an illusion of tranquil ocean views existing outside the room. The gradual changing of lighting within the installation serves as an indication of the passage of time. Further down the hall, and through another window, viewers can see a dark room with a table and chair made of fluorescent wax. It is a replication of Tam’s studio environment in the first room, but a decayed version that is seemingly broken and full of holes. The contrast betwen these two identical yet different scenes leads viewers to question what is reality.

JOEY LEUNGSomething that Mr. Chow Didn’t Mention, 2015, ballpen, acrylic, gouache, Chinese ink and drawing pen on paper, dimensions variable. Installation view of “Walking in the Dreams” at Hong Kong Heritage Museum, 2015. Courtesy the artist and Hong Kong Heritage Museum.  

While the installations created by both Wong and Tam embody a sense of desperation, other works in the show present a more playful, positive interpretation of dreaming. Presented in a separate space near the museum entrance is mixed-media artist Kingsley Ng’s screening of his 10-minute video of clouds, On Air (2015). In five different scenes, clouds are depicted in unusual ways—as drops of paint dispersing under water, smoke from a white candle and the fog of dry ice. Unpredictable changes in the clouds’ shape and color work are complemented by off-screen sounds, such as the noise of a school playground, hymn-singing in a Catholic church, and the hum of a Filipino lullaby, representing the “dream” of emigrants that came from the nearby island nation of the Philippines. In the final scene of On Air, passing clouds give the audience the impression that they are flying on a plane—perhaps en route to paradise.

JOEY LEUNGSomething That Mr. Chow Didn’t Mention (detail)2015, ballpen, acrylic, gouache, Chinese ink and drawing pen on paper, dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and Hong Kong Heritage Museum.  

The only painting in this show, Joey Leung’s Something That Mr. Chow Didn’t Mention (2015) consists of a series of ten screens and a scroll. Leung adapts the format of tradition Chinese painting in its horizontal narrative composition, but executes the entire piece in pen and acrylic to include hybrid creatures and plant-sprouting fingers, among others. Accompanying the ten-panel painting is a scroll inspired by the Zhou-era (1000–750 BC) book The Interpretation of Dreams, written by the Duke of Zhou. In Leung’s painting, a Chinese poem is there on the canvas to explain each of the surreal scenes depicted in the work. On the borders of this poem are illustrations of nude women sleeping among floating flowers, which implies that to dream, one must become lost in a colorful world of free imagination.

There is one display that is Hong-Kong specific and interactive. Audios of recorded interviews with local residents sharing their dreams are piped out through two sets of headphones hung on either side of a white cuboid. Visitors are invited to participate by writing down their own interpretations of dreams on a booklet on as part of the installation. One visitor, on hearing an interviewee exclaim that a monstrous creature chases him in his dreams, penned a romantic confession, writing, “I want to be with him.”

“Walking in the Dreams” urges the audience to keep expanding their imaginations. It tells visitors that they may one day discover that they have become the person whom they formerly dreamed of being—that life is full of possibilities and dreams may one day be reality.

“Walking in the Dreams” will be on view until September 28 at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum.