Leung Chi Wo, a veteran of the Hong Kong art scene, has been making artworks since the early 1990s. In the form of photography, performance, text, video and installations, they portray and explore his hometown of Hong Kong in terms of its urban space, its languages, its memory and its colonial history, its bureaucratic structure and the ideology embedded in it, its art world and its art history. Leung investigates forms and content of historical consciousness, memories and narratives that are in essence constructions. Adept at discovering coincidences of names of places and people in sound and meaning, Leung ingeniously makes them the starting points of his storytelling in art.
Storical Affairs starts with an official Chinese primary school textbook of Chinese history that I found in Japan during my residency there in 2005. The textbook was translated into Japanese and published by a Japanese publisher. As kanji (Chinese characters) are often used in the Japanese language, I could read some of the book and interpret other parts by guessing. The idea then occurred to me to deconstruct the language (and so the idea of an “official history”) by reading the book in accordance with the reader’s nationality. One video shows the book with all the kanji crossed out and a Japanese man reading every single syllable except that of the kanji. Another video shows another copy of the book in which all the words except the kanji are crossed out. A Chinese woman from Hong Kong reads aloud the kanji in Cantonese.
We still need to fight is a quotation from representatives of the International Domestic Workers Network, which demonstrated outside the Legislative Council Building in Hong Kong when the motion to amend the Minimum Wage Bill to cover foreign domestic workers was voted down in the council meeting of July 15, 2010. The photos are close-up images of the bullet holes in the facade of the Legislative Council Building made during the World War II. With lighting from behind, text and the image play with invisibility.
Silent Music Plane 1967 consists in paper plane made with the cover of Life magazine (June 1967), flying on a string tied to the arm from the axis of a slow-speed motor set on a tripod. Based on the rhythm of some music, a micro-controller creates signals for variable voltages that make the plane flying at variable speeds. On the cover of this particular issue of Life magazine is the story of the escape of the famous Chinese musician Ma Sicong from China. In May 1967, a good deal of Chinese propaganda slogans and music were broadcast from the loudspeakers at the Bank of China Building in Central, Hong Kong. It was loud and heard everywhere in the Central District. To counteract the propaganda, the Hong Kong government installed six large military speakers on the roof of the Government Information Services building (very close to Bank of China), loudly playing jazz and Western pop music, including the Beatles. In this installation, the movement of the paper plane responds to the tempo and sound levels of two songs: Long Live Chairman Mao (1966) and Yesterday (1965) by the Beatles, both tools in the war of propaganda!