Winner of Hugo Boss Asia Art Award to Celebrate With Work’s Destruction
By The Editors
Last night, the newly established Hugo Boss Asia Art Award went to Hong Kong artist Kwan Sheung Chi. In a ceremony which took place at Shanghai’s Rockbund Art Museum (RAM), the 33-year-old Kwan was recognized for his outstanding contribution to the field of contemporary art in Asia. Works that contain “against-the-grain criticism of the system” and open up the possibility for “personal utopias,” have earned the artist a USD 48,000 prize.
Among the other award finalists, in the corresponding exhibition at RAM, Kwan presents Water Barrier (Maotai:Water, 1:999) (2013), an installation comprised of two 170 cm high, white, plastic anti-riot barriers filled with water diluted with one bottle of Maotai—a Chinese distilled white liquor that is commonly served at state functions. An alarming yellow sign standing in front of the structure reads: “Please Tear Down this Wall, Warm Reminder: Beware of People Behind.” A neighboring looped video shows the artist attempting to topple the barrier. With this work, Kwan alludes to mounting social issues and the types of physical and ideological barriers that stand to prevent change. The duplicitous warning sign invites revolt, yet calls for precaution.
This evening, audiences are invited to join the artist in a second attempt to destroy the barrier. Participants and onlookers will gather in the museum lobby at quarter to seven, 16 of which will be enlisted to help knock the piece to the ground.
An initiative of the German fashion powerhouse, Hugo Boss, the Asia Art Award is intended to recognize emerging talent on the continent and will be awarded annually to artists under the age of 35, whose career spans at least three years. Along with Kwan, the finalists—which this year were all based in greater China—were fellow Hong Kong artist, Lee Kit, photographer duo Birdhead from Shanghai, Taipei’s Hsu Chiawei, Hu Xiangqian and Li Wei from Beijing and Li Liao who is based in Shenzhen.