Divergence: Exhibits from Macao, China
Collateral event of the 53rd International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia
Open to the public: 7 June – 22 November 2009; opening hours 10.00 am – 6.00 pm; closed on Mondays
Venue: Scoletta di San Giovanni Battista e del SS Sacramento, Campo Bandiera e Moro, Castello 3811/B, 30122 Venice
Artists: Bonnie Leong Mou Cheng & Kitty Leung Mou Kit, Lee Yee Kee, João Ó Bruno Soares
Curator: Kent, Ieong Chi Kin
Organizer: Macao Museum of Art
Coordinator in Venice: Arte Communications
Launched in 1895 and nearing its 53rd edition, the Venice Biennale is one of the most important artistic events in Europe. Macao participated for the very first time in 2007, invited by Venetian organization, and this year will be its second presence in Venice.
The event’s theme for this year is “Making Worlds”. One point stressed by the curator Daniel Birnbaum is ‘the proximity to the processes of production’, which will result in an exhibition that remains closer to the sites of creation and education (the studio, the workshop) than to the traditional museum show, which tends to highlight only the finished work. Some of the works – declared Birnbaum - will represent ‘worlds in the making’. A work of art is more than an object, more than a commodity. It represents a vision of the world and, if taken seriously, it can be seen as a way of ‘world making’.
As a participating city, we hope to address the theme through reflections on Macao’s current environment: 1) Anyone may have a different understanding of ‘Making Worlds’. First of all, the fundamental question is: how can worlds be made? How would artworks make worlds? It seems inscrutable that mankind poses itself as God. 2) Economic development has become Macao’s core value. Under the current global crisis, the city cannot stay unaffected, whereas people from different regions may have different understandings as to the ways of rescuing the economy. And after all, what is “core”? What is “value”? In order to respond to those questions the Macao curatorship has selected ‘Divergence’ as its theme for the 2009 Venice Biennale. Divergence is an important term both in language and philosophy. But divergence is not the same as ambiguity. Ambiguity means the absence of a clear focus, whereas divergence means deviation from a perceived direction, which can induce wrong variations out of rationality.
Macao Museum of Art (MAM) has the honour of inviting scholars from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao possessing considerable expertise of contemporary art, exhibiting overseas and local artistic ambiance. The open evaluation took place in a special theme exhibition hall at the second floor of MAM, with the selection criteria focused on each work’s social accountability, modernity, degree of interpretation of the theme and assembling feasibility.
From the total of 24 proposals received, the jury has selected 12, which are to be first exhibited in Macao. Originally, according to the Regulations of Call for Exhibit Proposals only the two best works would be selected for Venice but it turned out that three works got the same best score. They are: “Space in Flux”, created by Bonnie Leong Mou Cheng and Kitty Leung Mou Kit; “EurAsia Airways Limited”, created by João Ó Bruno Soares and “Timeless Tunnel”, created by Lee Yee Kee. Following a heated debate, the fact that the three works are in starkly different styles but all manage to fully represent Macao through their different approaches made it difficult to decide using the same yardstick. As a result, under the principle of “encouraging artists to create, promoting Macao contemporary art development”, the jury unanimously voted that all the three works would be selected to be exhibited in Italy.
“Space in Flux” by Bonnie Leong Mou Cheng and Kitty Leung Mou Kit attempts to construct a natural landscape using artificial materials, such as panels made of embroidery and beads, in order to address the destructiveness of the capitalistic mass production model.
“Timeless Tunnel” by Lee Yee Kee is a video installation, which would plunge viewers into an atmospheric air-raid shelter, as well as a world of darkness seemingly without escape.
Is this our current situation? “EurAsia Airways Limited” by João Ó Bruno Soares is a metaphor of a fictional one way Venice – Macao air route. His playful budget airline advertisement would make viewers think: are we just taking this one way only trip?
CAs the German philosopher Walter Benjamin said, “Truth is not a matter of exposure which destroys the secret, but a revelation that does justice to it.”
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