POWER PLAYS Artists challenge authorities

Francis Alys, Denis Beaubois, Annelise Coste, Irwin, Lin Yilin, Pak Sheung Chuen, Santiago Sierra, The Kingpins, Ulay, Zhao Bandi

Sep 09 – Oct 06, 2005

Borrow a famous painting - Tattoo a 250 cm line on six paid people - Build a wall on the street - Guide sheep around a flagpole - Fight for your Panda - Make people demonstrate - Put a black square on the Red square - Run against the tram - Dance in Starbucks - Play with the CCTV - Ribbon up Tiananmen Square


In Hong Kong, the city of huge and creative demonstrations POWER PLAYS presents eleven of the most important political performance and video works of the last three decades.

What do artists do when they need to act up? One possible action is to leave the safety of one's studio, go out and stage their statement, publicly in ways which others may consider slightly unusual. These carefully  orchestrated political and artistic statements are actions carried out in the same vein of Action art movements prominent in the 60s. One event that was emblematic of such movements is the famous Festival of New Art: ACTION / AGIT-OP / DECOLLAGE / HAPPENING / EVENTS / ANTI-ART / L'AUTRISME/ ART TOTAL / REFLUXUS  held on 1964 in Aachen where German artist Joseph Beuys got beaten up yet continued performing for another four hours with a bloody nose. It is the combination between the urge to perform, a personal political mission, and conceptual depth that make this artistic practice so fascinating.

The videos featured in POWER PLAYS are documentations of artists carrying out their acts; some are spontaneous and risky, while others are staged as improvised happenings. Treading between the lines of humor and horror, the executed works form manifestations of the artists' political and artistic intent.