2023.05.11 - 2023.06.18
Curated by Kobe Ko | Para Site
10B, Wing Wah Industrial Building 677 King’s Road, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong
In the beginning of the year, Para Site embarked on a renovation process to open an additional exhibition space on the tenth floor of its current location. Envisioned as a ‘project space’ for experimental and site-specific exhibitions and programmes, Para Site first invited the Hong Kong based artist Kong Chun Hei to occupy the pre-renovated site. Elaborating on the ‘Studio + Archive Project’, an initiative established between 2021 and 2022, Para Site invited Kong as an artist-in-residence to use the tenth floor as a temporary studio space for four months starting from the beginning of the year. During this period, Kong has documented this process. while developing his ideas for the site-specific installations. In February 2023, he hosted an open studio event in collaboration with the sound performance collective Haptic Collision.
The work of Kong often revolves around the interpretation of materials and the deciphering of symbols. At different moments, the minimal presentation appears playful or satirical, which functions as a cover to different forms of critique expressed by the artist. The idea to invite Kong as a resident artist before the renovation was a way to encourage use of his acute observation skills over a longer duration of time. This process not only enabled the artist to respond directly to the specificities of the space, but also offered an opportunity for us to think alongside the artist to open up the imagination of Para Site’s future possibilities.
Curated by Kobe Ko, Kong’s solo exhibition ‘PS’ features four commissioned site-specific works: Stairs (2023), Breakdown (2023), Extinction@PS (2023), and Aftertaste. ‘PS’ refers to the postscript commonly found at the end of written communication, which the artist regards as paratext that not only provides alternative readings, but is able to also open new lines of inquiry in relation to the main text. This attention towards paratext serves to disrupt and provoke new forms of production beyond the status quo. The presentation establishes a tension within the space, and looks to probe at areas of daily life that remain unquestioned to symbolise the connection between Para Site’s newly expanded tenth floor space to the existing space on the 22nd floor.
The commissioned installation Stairs (2023) makes use of the debris and scrap material gleaned from the renovation process of the new space designed by COLLECTIVE. Creating a passage between two previously separated rooms, the installation acts as stepping stones for visitors to cross a threshold into the newly connected spaces, and will remain as a permanent installation after the conclusion of the exhibition. In the work Breakdown (2023), the artist amasses a trove of material gleaned from Para Site’s storage warehouse and past publications, which he collages and reshapes into forms that offer a glimpse into traces of its past. The appearance of the work will slowly change according to the time of day and the intensity of the sunlight outside. Throughout the process, the artist reviews, tears, compiles, exposes, and unravels material to reflect on the institution’s complex history. Aftertaste is an installation that spins dust gleaned from human activities gathered inside the exhibition space like a cyclone with no exit. The work is inspired by the artist’s experience of smelling concrete during the renovation period and from the dust accumulated from the construction. The artist would experience a visceral stimulation of the senses each time he entered into the space, a sensation that would linger on even after leaving, an experience that serves as a metaphor to the cyclical routine he observed in the Para Site office. Extinction@PS (2023) is an installation of lights and ultrasonic sensors positioned throughout the exhibition space. The sensors are set to detect objects at various distances to trigger the lights to turn off at different set durations. The work highlights the effects of people’s options and actions, and their ability to trigger and influence events. The installation also provides the only intermittent source of lighting in the darkened space, which provides sole means of visibility to engage with the other works.
As the inaugural exhibition of Para Site’s new space, the exhibition reflects on the institution’s complex history as an artist-founded alternative space, while contemplating its emergence as a leading contemporary art institution in relation to the struggles of balancing international and local interests amidst a rapidly changing social context.
When the PS is generated from misreading foreshadows a submissive deviation from this place, where destruction and hollowing out are inevitable in order to alter the existing flow, with the reflection of the rubble structure following in its footsteps, whether climbing or descending. The once lush iconography divides the exterior from the interior, and the remnants of the idea are intended to punctuate the carriers that have been tumbled out under pressure. The landscape is made whole by its absence, allowing others to pour out the light, with light and darkness hovering randomly at the corner of one’s eye. The dust in the center swirls sharply and whistles to each other in unseen tubes.
Image courtesy of Para Site
Photo credit: Studio Lights On