artists & participants
M+, Hong Kong’s new museum of 20th- and 21st-century visual culture in the West Kowloon Cultural District, is pleased to announce Five Artists: Sites Encountered, which will be presented at the M+ Pavilion from June 7 to October 20, 2019. This exhibition brings together an all-female line-up of artists from different generations and geographies—Lara Almarcegui (Spanish, born 1972), May Fung (Hong Kong, born 1952), Lee Bul (Korean, born 1964), Ana Mendieta (American, born Cuba, 1948–1985), and Charlotte Posenenske(German, 1930–1985)—in an exploration of ideas around site and place. Curated by Pauline J. Yao, Lead Curator, Visual Art at M+, the selection of sculptures, installations, and moving image works will be displayed in and around the pavilion.
Tracking notions of site across multiple historical moments and artistic languages, the exhibited works include poetic expressions of the body, intense investigations into the built environment, and in one case, a direct response to the M+ site. Together, these multifaceted works display powerful connections between art and its surroundings—be they the natural environment, architectural space, urban contexts, or discursive frameworks—prompting us to rethink our relationships to place and sense of belonging in the world.
A specially commissioned project by Lara Almarcegui presents a rigorous breakdown of the materials involved in the construction of the M+ building, offering a systematic expression of the transformations currently taking place at the museum’s site. With over 20 years of experience in investigating land and urban space, the artist fuses art-making with her research strategies, reflecting on unseen connections between what lies in the earth and the buildings that surround us.
Ana Mendieta, a pioneering performance artist celebrated around the globe, used her own body as a tool to communicate with the natural landscape. The selected films from her influential “Silueta” (Silhouette) series (1974–1981) documents the artist’s performative actions in which she impressed her body into dirt, sand, and mud and transformed the materials with water, smoke, and fire. In view of her life as a Cuban exile in the United States, these actions can be seen as part of a process of recovering her lost identity and the trauma of separation from family and homeland.
Also addressing site through the display of bodily encounters, the films of May Fung—one of the most important moving image artists working in Hong Kong today—echo themes of loss and self-discovery. Featuring a blindfolded woman feeling her way through the bustling streets of Hong Kong, Fung’s She Said Why Me (1989) depicts a journey in search for identity. The filmed footage is interspersed with black-and-white archival clips of women in Hong Kong from different historical moments, evoking the city’s collective memories and its layered past.
Elsewhere in the gallery is a group of over 30 maquettes by Lee Bul, a leading Korean artist and prominent voice of her generation. These small glittering models of real and fictional buildings respond to ideas of architectural utopias, as does her hanging sculpture, intricately crafted from steel, metal sheets, and mirrors. Born to dissident parents, Lee grew up during a period of military dictatorship in Korea. She witnessed first-hand the struggle to build a utopian state and its resulting breakdown, making ideas of human ambition and perfection a recurring theme in her works.
Notably different in form and appearance, the sculptural units created by German Minimalist artist Charlotte Posenenske, known as the “Vierkantrohre” (Square Tubes) series (1967), are the artist’s final and most lasting contributions to art. Resembling ventilation shafts, these modular parts in galvanised steel and cardboard can be assembled in various shapes according to the space and desires of the owner. Fond of placing her sculptures in public spaces, such as train stations and factories, Posenenske encouraged interactions between artwork and our everyday surroundings.
Complementary programmes, including reconfigurations of Charlotte Posenenske’s sculptures, conversations with exhibiting artists, a teachers’ private viewing, and special guided tours, will accompany the exhibition. For more information, please visit www.mplus.org.hk/sitesencountered.
Five Artists: Sites Encountered is curated by Pauline J. Yao, Lead Curator, Visual Art, M+; assisted by Ethan Cheng, Assistant Curator, Visual Art, M+; Vera Lam, Curatorial Assistant, M+; and Jenny Wang, Intern, M+.