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Thursday, July 30, 2020, 23:47
Holding Court
By China Daily Lifestyle Premium
Thursday, July 30, 2020, 23:47 By China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Hong Kong-born artist Shirley Tse follows her acclaimed participation in the Venice Biennale with a new exhibition at M+

Shirley Tse: Stakes and Holders (2020) installation view, commissioned by M+

Artist Shirley Tse

Shirley Tse works in sculpture, installation, photography and text, deconstructing the world of synthetic objects that carry paradoxical meanings and constructing models in which differences combine. She fuses the organic with the industrial, moving between the literal and the metaphoric, merging narratives. Such is her acclaim that last year she showed Shirley Tse: Stakeholders, Hong Kong in Venice at the 58th Venice Biennale, which drew more than 100,000 visitors during its six-month run.

Now the Los Angeles-based, Hong Kong-born artist is back in town with Shirley Tse: Stakes and Holders. Showing at M+ Pavilion until October 4 and guest-curated by Christina Li, it’s Tse’s direct response to her work in Venice and comprises two installations. “I hope viewers will be inspired to see negotiation, play and agency in a new light, and curious about various possibilities in our contemporary moment, both in Hong Kong and far beyond,” she explains. 

Guest curator Christina Li

The ever-changing social and material landscape of Hong Kong is an enduring source of inspiration for Tse, and these works put the city’s dynamic relationships and unique conditions of negotiation in the foreground. All told, she examines interconnectivity in a pluralistic world, using sculpture as a mode of multidimensional thinking. 

And the art of improvisation. Negotiated Differences is a sprawling installation of 3D-printed joints and wooden shapes that stretch across the pavilion’s spaces – balusters, handrails and bowling pins are connected by craft, mechanical and digital technologies as an integrated whole. Notably, COVID-19 prevented both the artist and curator from participating in the installation in person, so the work was improvised over phone and video chats by the M+ curatorial and installation team. If travel allows, Tse and Li may perform a “reconfiguration” of the work at a later date. 

Playcourt (2019–2020), from an installation view of Shirley Tse: Stakeholders, Hong Kong in Venice

The other piece, Playcourt, comprises sculptural amalgams of equipment and anthropomorphic forms, as well as radio antennas that pick up local non-commercial frequencies. All of this encourages us to think about our role as individuals, our agency and the extent to which we are all stakeholders. 

This exhibition is also a defining moment in the larger contemporary cultural landscape of Hong Kong, as it represents the last exhibition to be held at the M+ Pavilion before the opening of the official M+ building by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron. Much as we anticipate the new platform, we’ll miss the intimacy – and the reflection – that M+ Pavilion has allowed during the interim. 

Negotiated Differences (detail, 2019–2020); carved wood and 3D-printed filaments in wood, metal, and plastic; dimensions variable; from an installation view of Shirley Tse: Stakeholders, Hong Kong in Venice

Playcourt (detail, 2020); dimensions variable; commissioned by M+ for Shirley Tse: Stakes and Holders

Exhibition-exclusive products in Hong Kong include this Radio-Kit and the Negotiated Differences vase

Images: Courtesy of M+ Hong Kong (Shirley Tse; Christina Li). Photo: Ringo Cheung (Shirley Tse: Stakes and Holders (2020) installation view; Playcourt (detail, 2020), courtesy of M+ and the artist. Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio (Negotiated Differences (detail, 2019–2020); Playcourt (2019–2020), Shirley Tse: Stakeholders, Hong Kong in Venice), courtesy of M+ and the artist. Images: Courtesy of M+ Shop (Negotiated Differences vase, Radio-Kit)

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