Art

Wong Ping – Golden Shower Exhibition


THE EXHIBITION

On the surface Wong Pings “Golden Shower” exhibition is a wash of bright colours interjected with pop-porn. However, look a little deeper and another world emerges. A world full of pathos, tenderness, rejection, loss, and love. Wong Ping said that while sex may be the “language” he uses, “it’s not the message of the work.”  One of the main questions he asks us is: “How do we negotiate loneliness and the isolation of urban life and how do we care”?

SCULPTURES AND INSTALLATIONS

The exhibition comprises of sculptures and installations. The walls of the main room are lined with thousands of gold toothed dentures and in the center, a full screen video is playing with subtitles. The title is “Dear can I give you a hand”?  Wong Ping was inspired by an encounter he had with an 80-year-old man throwing away a stack of X-rated VHS tapes. He created a story about an old toothless widower who tries to come to terms with the death of his wife, while dealing with the desire for his daughter-in-law, and alienation in the digital age. The story is a visual feast of bright colors and naïve design.  In the next room Wong Ping has come to terms with a rat that invaded his work room and terrified him while trying to finish a deadline. As a homage to this traumatic experience, he made “rat riders” using cryptic letters R-A-T for three child-size male mannequins dressed in colorful rat costumes mounted on springs so as to resemble freaky children’s playground toys. 

In the room that follows, Wong Ping presents “Jungle of Desire”. A video screen on one wall with the floor covered with fake fur and cats waving their paws, which look like penises. The next room is dominated by a giant shiny white plastic phallus, from which jut three video screens presenting the trio: Slow Sex, Doggy Love, and Who’s the Daddy? It also shows the frustrations of waiting for pornography to download at a time when the internet was not as developed and as fast as it is today. Another room features the videos of “Wong Ping’s Fables” and is furnished with transparent inflatable seating, that forms the artist’s surname in Chinese characters.

FABLES FROM THE LAND OF WONG PING

Wong Ping has said, “I want to write a kind of “Wong Ping’s Fables” for the Modern Age.”  His animations, although fables, have a twist over which one can ponder. There is a video about a tortoise who falls in love with a blind elephant, who, it turns out, was never blind. The videos end in phrases like: “your time will come when vulgarity and bad taste become trends” and “keep laughing even when you are surrounded by corpses” and then “perhaps it is better to spend more time thinking how meaningless and powerless you are.” These morality tales are not for children, even though they are populated by animal characters. They explore everything from self-loathing to shattering rejection.

ABOUT WONG PING

Wong Ping is from Hong Kong. He studied design and says that he was not a good student and preferred playing video games to attending classes. He managed to graduate with a major in multimedia design at Curtin University, Australia, in 2005, and later taught himself to edit software to secure a post-production job at a local television station on his return to Hong Kong. But this was very boring work that required nothing but to retouch images. To escape the tedium, he began to write short stories that he posted on his blog, and later tried to animate using his limited skills in Photoshop and After Effects software. “It isn’t very proper animation, as you can see. It’s very simple stuff” he says, despite signing his productions “Wong Ping Animation Lab” but this, he explains, was to look “more professional,” which he knew he wasn’t.

He works from home, writes the scripts, draws the animations on his computer, creates the music, and often also narrates the voice-overs in his own deadpan Cantonese. After producing a few animations for a friend’s band and putting them online, interest in his work began to show and commissions followed. He was not familiar with fame or the art world and in 2015 he said, “I had no idea what I was expecting because I didn’t know what “curating” meant as I had never heard of this term. And what did installation mean? I didn’t know” he said. According to Michelle Yun, senior curator of modern and contemporary art at Asia Society, says Mr. Wong’s work is “very sophisticated, even though it looks as if it was made by the hand of a sweaty adolescent.” 

Like many young people in Hong Kong, Mr. Wong and his friends were galvanized by the 2014 protests of the Umbrella Movement. They joined the thousands who took to the streets, frightened by explosions of tear gas and thrilled by the energy of the crowds. “It made us stronger” he said. “In society, we all have doubts now and people have less emotional reactions to politics. We are really disappointed, and we are feeling powerless.”

This exhibition is thought-provoking and opens up another world for the viewer, with plenty of questions to ask oneself.

The exhibitions is at the Kunsthalle Basel from 18.1. to 5. 5. 2019.

For more information visit – https://www.kunsthallebasel.ch/artist/wong-ping/

The Artist talk is on 28. Apr 2019 / Sun / 15:00 – 16:00

In the framework of his solo exhibition Golden Shower, Wong Ping talks about his working process, the video animations, and the installations, moderated by Elena Filipovic, in English.

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