Absent minded

2022.11.05 - 2023.01.07
TKG+ | 1F, No.15, Ln. 548, Ruiguang Rd., Neihu Dist., Taipei

Absent minded, Kong Chun Hei's second solo exhibition at TKG+, pivots on the idea of self-restoration, a kind of twist based on self-reflection that interrogates the temporal and spatial existence of external objects. Under the premise of affirming the subject of doubt, one allows themselves to return to the nature of the object in question. Restrictive concepts, such as authority and order, should be dismissed and placed instead, in parentheses; one then returns from object to essence, connecting with the object through consciousness, allowing one's ability to perceive to manifest.

Que Ru Wu Yang (闕如無恙): vacancy, auxiliary, none, sickness.

When the four characters of the exhibition title are separated, each stands for a meaning of its own. The literal meaning becomes far more fragmented than the abstract sense they conjure when they come together. This is not a problem of the characters themselves, but the fact that they are connected. How does the viewer approach — or not approach — the meaning and symbol behind the phrase? For Kong, the lack of meaning matters little. Faced with society’s status quo, the artist regards the world with skepticism, putting aside past experiences and constraints on how to understand the world, temporarily shelving these ideas so that they merely exist yet hold no effect over him. Once liberated from the order of preexisting experience, one is free to delve into the essence of concept and perceive the nature of everything.

In addition to its direct impact on human health, the current pandemic camouflages the state’s political skills in its governance of the people with social control mechanism. Vaccine administration protocol becomes a disciplinary health doctrine under which the usual conveniences that we took for granted, such as dining out, visiting a hairdresser, going to a mall, or taking basic transportation, are reduced to exceptions that confine the way of life. Disease transmission and social participation form a dualistic system of obedience and resistance, where the state asserts control on the grounds of health care. The state of exception is, in a sense, shaped into political revenge exerted by the state against the people, hollowing out individual rational thinking in the collective through authoritarian repression. Ultimately, it boils down to individual choice in the face of desire and value. One thing remains the same: to set up events as facts, limiting perception to concrete things in reality that can be perceived by the senses. One seems to have options, but is in fact deprived of choice. What appears vacant turns out to be faultless.

It all started with the “Turn into its own loop” series. From beginning to end, the same ball of wires gets tangled or unraveled in whichever shapes it comes in, rendered in ink by the artist’s hand. Step by step, Kong follows the line with his eyes, his mind, limning the entangled shape in its entirety. The work Feedback (step by step) invites the viewer to step into a corridor paved with scales on which the numbers have been erased: balance and weightlessness between the individual and the collective instantiated; the body of the viewer moving on the scales is placed in a state of exception, while the weight indicator rotates voluntarily, measuring self and solitude in vain.

One tends to reach out for the nearest support when jolted out of balance. The work Handrail embodies an illusory sense of stability, which upon a second glance offers no reassurance. Seeing the flimsy handrail, the viewer can only pull back their hand before a closer inspection reveals the hollowed structure. When everything is indistinguishable, perhaps it is possible to lead others toward us by shouting. The work Announcement conveys no legible or audible message, but the cry through the thick glass window extends the psychological distance between the interior and the exterior.

The works Extinction and Rippling From a Distance elicit a sense of dislocation that confounds the viewer: lights that stay on until someone approaches; a metal vent that allows the view of continuously dripping liquid. In the end, the work Fulfill encapsulates the idea of self-contemplation and self-restoration in the energy consumed, measured, and recorded between the electricity meter, electricity box, and projector.

Absent minded epitomizes Kong Chun Hei’s creative musing in recent years. Found objects are cunningly modified to unveil the relationship between the viewer and the object, while symbols are undermined to divulge the nature of an object in an attempt to investigate an unfolding event. This suggests that essence is not abstracted from the individual, but maintains its own concrete existence. Even when the vast empirical order confines the individual, what is invisible does not necessarily mean it does not exist. And here in this exhibition, ample room is left.

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To have finally rendered the self exceptional through collective effort. Stirrings that have been cared for by foregrounded and measured steps; the debris of gradations that can’t even begin to dilute burden. For all admonitions are directed towards internal disruption—let its exhaustion depend on the anticipation of perpetually deferred content. The corrosion of righteous support structures to the greatest permeability until only its upright gestalt can be sustained is to be as vertical and hollow as a lotus stem. The rote means of eliminating targets is exercised either through the self’s expansion purely for heightened visibility or abstinence. If large spaces entice meandering, then let its echoing douse the bright lights from afar. Mediocre revelries become celebrations where loneliness’ solitude is refused. No crossing yields entry, only to deeper entanglement. The rigorous erection of a suspension system ensures that all points of stabilisation refuse exertions of force. The production of quantification by the gaze becomes the gaze’s only attachment. Every investigative attempt falls into the category of the banal. Please entertain the brief apparition of ripples at a distance before its disappearance.

1. Feedback (step by step), 2022
2. Extinction, 2022
3. Announcement, 2022
4. Handrails, 2022
5. Warm Intervention, 2021
6. Turn into its own loop (series), 2020 - 2022
7. Focus, 2022
8. Rippling From A Distance, 2022
9. Pinpoint, 2022
10. Fulfill, 2022

Image courtesy of TKG+
Photo credit: Chong Kok Yew