A Travel Without Visual Experience – Response Exhibition of the 53rd Venice Biennale Hong Kong Exhibition

Pak Sheung Chuen

Mar 12 – Apr 04, 2010

Based on “Making (Perfect) World”, the exhibition representing Hong Kong in the 53rd Venice Biennale, Pak Sheung Chuen reassembled his works into two separate exhibitions: “A Travel Without Visual Experience” and “Hong Kong Diary”. The former is a collection of works done overseas over the years and the latter is his mixed thoughts about Hong Kong. These two exhibitions demonstrate Pak’s unique observations of life details as well as his varied ways of arts creation.

Pak’s works on travel are always about the body being in strange environments. Sometimes lonely situations are involuntary, but sometimes they are self-exiles. He says, “The body will spontaneously build a relationship with the outside world when it is in a strange environment. I am like an observer who jumps out from his own body to watch its reaction. Sometimes I am two. When I see the other me crying in pain, I give him comfort. Between suffering and comforting, the two of me are complementary and self-sufficient.” What he attempts to do is to resume inner peace and lift his spirit through energy consumption on the body. His travel and artistic creation is very close to a pilgrim’s cultivation.

In “A Travel Without Visual Experience”, the response exhibition presented in the Guangdong Museum of Art, Pak chose a few recent works done overseas. Valleys Trip, a travel project in Tokyo, is about walking and purification. He walked along the deep valleys at the middle fold of a map booklet. Endless walks enabled his heartbeat, breathing and body movements to coordinate. Physical tiredness calmed his mind and he could concentrate to observe everything before his eyes. The meaning of things would then be automatically unfolded. A Travel Without Visual Experience in Malaysia is an exploration of “sight”. Pak joined a 5-day-4-night guided tour to Malaysia blind-folded, relying totally on photos to recollect this place that he experienced but never really saw. His conclusion is that a sightless man is not necessarily blind, while a blind man is not necessarily sightless. Pak’s travels, apart from being processes of meeting new things, are also rediscoveries about himself. For this exhibition he created a new work on Guangzhou, where he stayed in a soon-to-be-disappeared Cheng Zhong Cun (“Village in the City”). The resultant work stands witness to the changes faced by the grassroot section of the city.

The latter half of the exhibition, “Hong Kong Diary”, will open in the Hong Kong Museum of Art in June.

Artist Bio:
Pak Sheung Chuen was born 1977 in Fujian (China) and immigrated to Hong Kong in 1984, where he currently lives and works. Pak graduated in 2002 from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, majored in Fine Arts and minored in Theology. Pak performs and documents humorously poetic ideas that elaborate on complex issues within the realm of politics, history, religion and globalisation. These personal gestures encourage open-ended interpretations, inviting viewers to reflect and reconsider the infinite possibilities within their daily lives. Pak places the individual in his/her local environment against the new global realities, which are extremely relevant to the modernity of Asia's mega-cities today. Instead of being a distant observer, Pak draws elements from everyday life and its surroundings in order to encapsulate the possibility of combining social and political issues within his sensitive artistic practice. His art demands a mutual effort from the audience to engage and react both spiritually and emotionally, which can become highly and implicitly personal.

Awarded the Overseas Exchange Prize (Chinese Performance Art) by the Macao Museum of Art and the Lee Hysan Foundation Fellowship by the Asian Cultural Council in 2005 and 2006 respectively. Columnist of the Sunday MingPao, Pak authored ODD ONE IN : Hong Kong Diary, ODD ONE IN II : Invisible Travel, and See Walk What on 1 July.Pak has participated in numerous international exhibitions, including The First Stop on the Super Highway at the Nam June Paik Art Center in Korea (2009), The 3rd Yokohama Triennial (2008), The 3rd Guangzhou Triennial (2008), China Power Station: Part 2 at Astrup Fearrnley Museum in Oslo (2007) and The 6th Busan Biennale (2006). His solo exhibition Page 22 is permanently installed in New York’s 58th Street Branch Library.

The 53rd Venice Biennale Hong Kong Exhibition
The Hong Kong Arts Development Council (ADC) presented at the world renowned visual arts exhibition – 53rd Venice Biennale (Visual Arts) an exhibition “Making (Perfect) World: Harbour, Hong Kong, Alienated Cities and Dreams” featuring the works of local artist Pak Sheung Chuen under the curatorship of Mr Tobias Berger in association with Para Site Art Space from 7 June to 22 November 2009. It was the fifth time for the ADC to present the works of Hong Kong visual artists in the international arts arena, with an aim to enhance exchange and communication between Hong Kong and other countries in the world. Since its debut at the event under the name of “Hong Kong, China” in 2001, Hong Kong has gained its prominence on the world stage. Presenting an eclectic mix of genres and styles, the artists of Hong Kong have reached out to art lovers all over the world through an array of media. The exhibition attracted a record 130,000 visitors and extensive press coverage. Having received enormous attention overseas, the exhibition is now remounted as a response exhibition in Guangzhou and Hong Kong as the second phase, in cooperation with the Guangdong Museum of Art and Hong Kong Museum of Art respectively, enabling the public to see the distinctive artworks and fostering cultural exchanges in the Pearl River Delta Region.

Hong Kong Arts Development Council

Established in 1995, the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (ADC) is a statutory body set up by the government to plan, promote and support the broad development of the arts including literary arts, performing arts, visual arts, as well as film and media arts in Hong Kong. Aiming to foster a thriving arts environment and enhancing the quality of life of the public, the ADC is also committed to facilitating community-wide participation in the arts and arts education, encouraging arts criticism and raising the standard of arts administration. While maintaining close ties with the arts and cultural community, the ADC also works closely with a diverse group of public and private partners, the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, mainland authorities, overseas bodies and local art groups. it hopes to reach a strong social consensus on arts development in Hong Kong, a focal point where ideas, practices and influence converge to distinguish the city as a cultural metropolis in Asia where a thriving arts community with top-notch human resources takes root.

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