Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Anothermountainman (又一山人) – On Tightrope of Self-serving Pursuit

What’s Next 30x30 Creative Exhibition
三十乘三十 創意展

Venue/Time: Artistree, Takoo Place, Hong Kong from 7 July-9 August, 2011.

While pondering on this exhibition of salmagundi and with no clear grip of where to begin, Guardian’s Jonathan Jones provides a good incision point in his article entitled "The Royal Academy's shameless self-promotion".  To quote and be straight to the argument:

In other fields, such as politics, we are constantly seeking out and punishing the tiniest hint of self-serving behaviour. But when it comes to art, the public seem to want its managers and purveyors to be as over the top as possible in their displays of power. Art doesn't really matter, does it, so who really cares how blatantly the art world behaves?

Jones’s discourse, though with a blemish on RA’s presidency, is a worthwhile and relevant read on the overlooked subject of self-aggrandizement in art and design.

Curator calls for the Spotlight

The curator: Stanley Wong 黃炳培 (aka Anothermountainman) – advertising consultant turned graphic designer, photographer and artist.

Back to this exhibition and with all fairness, the idea of exchanging views on design and creativity among different artists/designers under a curatorial anchor is a bright idea.  However, when the curator himself sucks up much of the attention on the exhibition floor and in the dedicated website, it might as well be delivered as a solo exhibition.  The difference is subtle – many of the exhibits here are sweet talks on the curator, rendering the occasion like a tribute show to a great helmsman of art and design.  This is what an individual show cannot achieve.

Bumper Show of 33 Participants

Exhibition view 1.

Sculptor, musician, painter, food writer, art educator, floral arranger (Ikebana designer), film director and designers in the fields of graphics, fashion and advertising media, these are the multitude of personalities that contribute to the show.  Whilst some works are especially made for the show, others are not. This bumper magazine approach to demonstrate creativity overwhelms most visitors, probably leaving them either at awe or simply dumbfounded.  In truth, variety does not necessarily add up to richness and quantities do not always make up depth.


Society, Ideology, Time:Life…, secrets of the Universe revealed?

Exhibition view 2.

The zoning of more than a hundred exhibits, huge in quantity, under the topics of Society, Ideology and Time:Life is at first glance ambitious, but pretentious on second thought.  Admittedly, these topics are almost insurmountable issues to tackle especially only visual materials are present.  To set score on these issues together under one roof is almost doomed to fail from start.  Not only does each one of the works require weight on relevant question or answer, the result of such classification would likely to fall flat with superficiality and haziness.  Once again, the discerning audience might be left with bemusement, but the vast majority might be conquered with awe.  It is hoping against hope that this is not an underpinning intent of the exhibition.

Spot the "talents"

This is not the occasion to bash all the exhibits and participants therein; with due respect, some of them are good works in their own rights – dedicated, consistent and exemplary of creative efforts such as those by Simon Birch, Tsai Ming-liang 蔡明亮 etc.  But upon closer inspection, it is not difficult to find the expedient and the opportunistic types that raise the alarm.

1.  “Eat Like Heaven” by Craig Au Yeung 歐陽應齊 (introduced as designer/lifestyle artist – what a dubious nomenclature)

Surely this title and the subject matter is a very alternative Ideology (displayed within this zone).  Any viewer who cares for thought would sneeze at this correlation even though consideration has been taken for Chinese concerns on food culture.  The exhibit takes the form of a collage of scrap papers, set in random display with methods of cooking written.  It was a pathetic rush job lacking in creativity, conviction and artistry but with plenty of expediency.

Incredible nerve to show this crap by Craig Au Yeung 歐陽應齊.

Matching tacky piece of work by Wong in response to the above.  Had these bent toothpicks been used in a “Heaven of Food”?

2. “Poster design series on Rulers” by Kan Tai-keung 靳埭強 (graphic designer/artist)

What more can one say on these works with the quality of Hallmark compliments cards.  They are aptly named as posters, serving the purposes of advertising and publicity, for the curator - Anothermountainman.

Thirty Fruitful Years 三十丰年 (caption by Kan)

Thirty Years of Finding 三生拾得 (caption by Kan)

Blossoming Creativity 生花妙想 (caption by Kan)

3.“Bridge” by Alan Chan 陳幼堅 (graphic designer turned businessman)

Bamboo bridge set-up on the exhibition floor, a bit stereotyped but eye-catching anyhow.

Corresponding prosaic writing by Wong, emotive enough to release goose bumps.

4.“I Love Stanley’s Vision” by David Tartakover (graphic designer)

Tartakover’s work makes use of Wong’s facial feature i.e. the round rimmed turquoise spectacles on the motto-like statement reveals itself like a hard-selling propaganda material.

Soapbox design by Tartakover.  The colour combination of red, white and blue, obsessively referred to as the local spirit of perseverance due to the ever-present polyethylene bags, risks being hijacked as Wong's achievement.

God is in the details


Delve deeper into the details of the works, exhibition setting, printed materials and media coverage, one can spot the self-serving intents of those designer/artists and curator who were better off improving on their works.

The curator as an unashamed prophet wearing the sweater with the word “Future” against the Hong Kong city backdrop.

HKEJ, longing to be equated as the Financial Times in Asia, publishes this biweekly magazine – Lifestyle Journal.  The title of reportage pompously raises Wong as “the Righteous Man of Genesis 創世正行者”, whatever it actually means. His connection with the editor Peter Wong 黃源順, as long time pals and workmates, explains some of the incestuous media coverage.

High profiled display of media reports on a lounge table and sofa setting at the exhibition.

As if we found ourselves in a flashy restaurant with all the publicities the owner could amass for his visitors, but it is outlandish, vulgar and shocking to find them in an exhibition.

Why this squeamishness

One might ask: What is the problem?  Artists and designers are supposed to promote themselves.

Art and design as pervasive advertising for visitors.

Sure there are no written rules on what creative people can and cannot do to publicize themselves.  Self-promotion, of course they can.  But first and foremost from a practitioner’s viewpoint they must do their works to the best of their ability before indulging on self-advertisement.

Ways of cooking haphazardly posted – but trappings of 
self-service are written on the wall.

It also deserves unrelenting criticisms when they are engaged in mutual sycophancy – read the literature of this exhibition and be ready to find huge amount of flattery, extravagant titling, overblown compliments on achievements.  Many of these back patting make good jokes while some are poignant omens.

But at the end of the day, what can one expect from an advertising man dressed up as a curator. 

Visit  and see for yourself.

走鋼索的危程.三十乘三十創意展       〈中文摘要〉


平面設計師、裝置藝人、導演、音樂人、食文化者、攝影師等群星熠熠般作品聚展,不一定令觀者洞悉、體會「設計」及「創意」。作品質素才是檢視真理的標準。場內作品有高水平、唯心的,但亦不乏馬虎之作,包括歐陽應齊的《為食》文字貼和又一山人黃炳培的牙簽陣回應。另外靳埭強與David Tartakover的賀卡式作品,慶祝黃君創作三十年,諛意露骨,令人顫抖。




不妨到官方網址 自己審評。

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