Friday, May 27, 2011

REVIEW: A Wedding by the Para/Site Art Space

Para/Site Art Space + Lin Heung Kui Restaurant, Thursday May 26

Last night, I attended a wedding banquet. It was no ordinary wedding though; or rather normal wedding. A Wedding, on the surface was a way to raise fund for the independent art space Para/Site. It came up in a conversation between Zhang Wei (director of Vitamin Creative Space) and Lee Kit (THE Hong Kong artist). Apparently, Lee Kit mentioned to Zhang Wei that wedding practices in Hong Kong can actually be quite profitable for a wedding couple. So with that notion, we have A Wedding. Invitations were send out to artists and even curators to provide wedding gifts; and the gifts became an exhibition itself at the Para/Site Artspace.

A Wedding, at a deeper level, was more profound than I expected. I do understand that a wedding can be quite a special moment in ones life (I am single by the way); however in this case, the life that we are looking at is the future of arts in Hong Kong. The artists, suddenly, have to dig deep and think about their works in relation to the future. The work, in its totality, was unified, interconnected and immensely thoughtful. While having a conversation with Lee Kit, he mentioned that his artist-friends chastised him for providing the seed of the idea, as it has created more work for them. What was not said however, was that the thought of not providing a gift didn’t even occur. Lee Kit’s friend simply assumed that they have to because with friends, one never says no, especially to their wedding! The gifts were the usual mix of “Para/Site Arts” of videos, sculptures, paintings, photographs, etc. Some were better thought out than the others, and some were more relevant than the others. But as gifts go, it is the thought that counts. Going to the exhibit also gave me a chance to meet the new executive director/curator of the space, Mr. Cosmin Costinas, who has just arrived in Hong Kong.

The banquet was held in Lin Heung Kui (brilliant idea! The place shouts Hong Kong). It took me a while to figure out why the organizers gave me an empty red pocket before I realize that it was meant for me to also give a “wedding gift”. After handing over my gift to the organizers, I turned around and there stood Zhang Wei, beautiful, smiling and most friendly. After offering my sincere congratulations to her “wedding”, she was kind enough to talk me through the whole concept. What came across my mind during this conversation was how clear and cohesive her idea and thoughts were in contrast to a lot of the overworked writings done by some curators. Was it the difference between the oral and written format? Or was it just her? When I shyly asked to have a photograph with her (my only photograph that evening), she kindly assured me that it is a "common practice".

The rest of the evening went on like a typical wedding banquet; there were performances (the Para/Site board members provided Karaoke moments), an auction, poetry readings (the highlight for me) and the usual loud and I-don’t-care-what-is-happening-on-stage moments. The Wedding also provided a lovely souvenir of Lin Heung pastries and a limited edition photograph print by William Lim. When I assumed that all the gifts will be auctioned off (separately) to raise funds, perhaps in Para/Site annual fund-raising party, Tim Li, chairman of the Para/Site board, said that they might actually try to sell all the gifts in one lot. BRAVO! And I think that should be the case! The gifts should stay together and be presented in the context of how it was created. I can already see the gifts in an exhibition with footages of the wedding banquet!

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