Quick flashback: The Hong Kong International Art Fair yesterday was amazing. There was a huge variety of styles and mediums, and the place was saturated with creativity. It featured a few European galleries (at least, on the floors we visited; there might have been more elsewhere) and a scattered few masters, mostly modern -- we stumbled across a Dali and some Picasso -- but the artists I enjoyed the most, and was most impressed by, were the contemporary ones from all over Asia.
We walked through an installation by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei. He's persecuted by the Chinese government for his protest art calling out the shoddy construction of schools that led to the deaths of hundreds of children in the Sichuan earthquake of 2008. This installation was a simple presentation, in a round room, of the names of all the children who died; like another work of protest art from a Korean artist that we saw at the fair, the voice of the installation was loud and clear: try and ignore us if you can.
Some of my favorites were works from Japan and the Philippines. One Japanese artist I particularly enjoyed, Ujino, creates sound machines with a combination of guitars, kitchen appliances, table lamps and power tools that actually make some fun (and visually stimulating) music. There was something joyful and spontaneous about watching his creation light up, whirr and spin. The work from Philippine gallery Silverlens was also inspiring. I loved one sculpture made from acrylic and crochet blankets, called "The Dreaming Place." It looked ordinary at first, until you noticed that there was no bed underneath; the blankets were cast in acrylic to stand on their own, in the shapes created by draping them over a matress and pillows.
This morning, Joe was feeling better (he's been trying to get over a cold) but since he'd been under the weather last night, he went to the doctor to see if he could get something to clear him up. While he was gone, his friend Jack and I took a walk around the neighborhood.
The shops open pretty late in HK, especially on Sundays; Jack said everyone's recovering pretty hard from Saturday night. So even at 9:30am, most places were still shuttered, but it was a beautiful morning to stroll around. We wandered into the Man Mo Temple, where I spent my first money: HK$10 (US$1.25) for a booklet.
There were a few worshippers; some lit incense, and one woman my age was kneeling and bowing to some of the statues. There were about half a dozen other tourists up and about taking pictures, too. We saw two rooms of the temple, where the ceiling is hung with spirals of thick incense that burn for several weeks. The walls were lined with shrines to statues of the gods, and plaques with Chinese characters. In front of each, urns of sand and ashes were studded with sticks of burning incense. Three of four maintenance workers seemed to be in perpetual, slow-moving occupation sweeping up the dust and ashes, hanging new spirals from the ceiling, and shining plaques.
We wanted to also visit a used book store down the hill from Joe's place, but it was closed until noon. We're about to head back to check it out, now that's Joe's with us again and all medicated up, and then we're heading to Kowloon to see the Chi Lin Nunnery and Wong Tai Sin Temple.
Though the book store wasn't open yet, there were stacks of a free English-language HK art zine sitting outside, so I snatched one. More on this, and other adventures, later this evening -- now we're out to explore more!