Classed as a collateral event, the unofficial Hong Kong pavilion, opposite the main entrance to the Arsenale, has been leased by the territory since 2008. Hong Kong has participated in the biennale since 2001 but this year’s pavilion is a first, presented by M+, Hong Kong’s future museum for 20th and 21st century visual culture. It is a statement of intent and an international showcase for M+ chief curator Doryun Chong and its executive director Lars Nittve.
The Infinite Nothing, by Tsang Kin-Wah, features a haunting series of video installations that reverberate with philosophical concepts and religious symbolism.In one of four rooms, phrases and concepts are projected across the walls, including Neitzsche’s notorious prononcement of the death of God: Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space?
Calm and thoughtful at the outset, single thoughts float gently around the room and then appear with increasing rapidity, until the chaos on the walls resembles the contents of our over-stretched minds — ‘like the brain projected outwards,’ says Chong.
Tsang Kin-Wah, The Infinite Nothing: Ø, 2015. Single-channel video and sound installation, 6 min. 20 sec. Image courtesy of the artist
Visitors to this particularly dense biennale, where no one ever feels they are seeing enough of anything, will recognise this feeling of being emotionally and intellectually overwhelmed, but the artist is also referencing the ‘bombardment of information and data that we are all attempting to process, awake and asleep.’
The video installation, which takes the viewer on a journey, becomes, says Chong, ‘a kind of bodily experience.’ If you miss the exit, covered with a sack-like cloth, you end up walking round and round in a circle, mimicking the concept of a ‘cycle of exploration’ Tsang illustrates so adroitly.
Frustrated on our third circuit, we asked an Italian invigilator the way out, and were rewarded with his repetition of a particularly apt philosophical gem he’d spotted moving across the wall: ‘You can’t step into the river twice.’
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