Hong Kong is fast becoming a year-round cultural hub with an increasing number of intriguing smaller exhibitions filling gaps between the city’s blockbuster art auctions and fairs. The latest is a remarkable show by the inventive conceptual artist Song Dong, simultaneously hosted by the Ilse Crawford-designed restaurant-bar-art institution Duddell’s and Pace Gallery.
Born in 1966 in Beijing, and raised during China’s tumultuous Cultural Revolution, Song is renowned for his exploration of the ephemeral nature of modern society, often using exhibition spaces as an integral part of the artwork he creates.
Notable earlier works include Waste Not, a poignant installation at the Museum of Modern Art of over 10,000 household items hoarded by his obsessively frugal mother, and Eating the City, where visitors in several international capitals consumed Song’s miniature edible city in an intriguing commentary on hedonistic consumption.
With 'Sketch', Song draws viewers, diners and Duddell’s restaurant staff into a beguiling dialogue with his works by placing blue masking tape around the edges of the walls and staircases, with the art – a series of fish head and vegetable ceramic sculptures, photos and videos from Eating the City, alongside several ‘city’ sculptures comprising thousands of biscuits, baguettes and bagels. The edible work was ‘demolished’ by visitors who consumed it during the exhibition’s opening evening.
‘The tape is a simple object that creates a framework for the entire concept,’ says Song, who refers to himself as the ‘city planner’ when constructing the sculptural pieces. ‘It connects the people inside of it, making them part of the artwork itself. As the tape is also present at Pace, it connects the two exhibitions as one.’
The joint exhibition’s creative symbiosis is further reinforced at the gallery, with Sauce Painting created using international food seasonings as paint.
‘I want the audience to see things in their everyday lives as art,’ explains Song. ‘By having this exhibition at Duddell’s, visitors become part of the whole experience and are encouraged to go beyond their usual dining experience of socialising and eating to recognise food as art and become more mindful toward their daily lives.’