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2015.02.17 Tue, by
Para Site Launches New Home with A Hundred Years of Shame Exhibition

Leading artists participate in art centre’s inaugural exhibition in Quarry Bay space.

HONG KONG, February 13, 2015 – Para Site, Hong Kong’s leading contemporary art centre and one of the oldest and most active independent art institutions in Asia, today announced the opening of its latest exhibition, A Hundred Years of Shame – Songs of Resistance and Scenarios for Chinese Nations.  The show brings together artists from Hong Kong, Taiwan and China to explore pluralism and dissent across Chinese territories.  It is the first exhibition to be staged in Para Site’s new space, located in the Quarry Bay neighborhood. The show opens Friday, March 6th, with the reception taking place from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm.

Para Site’s Executive Director and Curator Cosmin Costinas and Asia Art Archive’s Senior Researcher Anthony Yung curated this cutting-edge exhibition, which invites artists from different Chinese territories to expose the clichés and risks behind the rising Chinese nationalism of our time. They do that through works that are often humorous and original in the perspectives they bring to the debate. Featured artists include Cai Hui, Hu Xiangqian, Wutiaoren, Huang Xiaopeng, Kao Chung Li, Kwan Sheung Chi, Lai Chih Sheng, Firenze Lai, Liao Guohe, Song Ta, Wong Wai Yin, Wu Shanzhuan and Inga Svala Thorsdottir, Yang Jiechang, Trevor Yeung, and Zhang Peili, among others.

The exhibition also features a fictional record label representing a wide variety of protest music from the Chinese-speaking world, including selections from Amy Cheng and Jeph Lo, Lam P from My Little Airport, Mei’Er from the Top Floor Circus, and Wutiaoren. This music collection will be displayed in a custom-built area within the exhibition. Other separate rooms, entitled Academy of Humiliation and Academy of Shame will contain materials from popular culture, films, documentation of images, and ephemera.

The English title of the exhibition comes from the founding mantra of Chinese national discourse, “A Century of National Humiliation”. While many generally agree the country’s “shame” began with the first Opium War, when or if it has ended is still under debate. Some believe it was over with the liberation from Japanese Occupation, while others believe the end came only with the handover of Hong Kong to China.  Gaining traction is a group of nationalists who believe the humiliation is still ongoing and inflicted by the western world.

The Chinese title, borrowed from Hu Xiangqian’s work, in the dialect of Leizhou, Guangdong, literally meaning “The Edge of the World”, is a phrase often used ironically by the people from this far away town to describe their own situation. This can be read both as an antagonism to “Middle Kingdom” and as a summary of the method of this exhibition: using the personal angle to discuss the relationship between the individual, the nation and the world. This represents the self-consciousness and progressive spirit that is needed for transcending the shamefulness.

“Scenarios of Chinese Nations” addresses not only the existence of various ideas that are different from a One China vision, but also pleas for the possibility of peaceful co-existence among the disparate views in Chinese culture and society.  While works found in this exhibition often illustrate shame and anxiety, they do not mirror the traditional nationalist argument. Instead, they highlight the absurd in the debate, where those who voice dissent are often dismissed or viewed as unpatriotic.

Cosmin Costinas commented: “We are delighted to be able to debut our new space with A Hundred Years of Shame – Songs of Resistance and Scenarios for Chinese Nations. This is a polemic exhibition that invites discussion and introspection. We invite everyone who is interested in the intersection of China’s art, society and history to visit our new home.”

Para Site recently moved from Sheung Wan to Quarry Bay, one of Hong Kong’s most diverse and densely populated neighborhoods. After 18 years of serving Hong Kong from a 500-sq-ft gallery space in Sheung Wan, and making our contribution to the thriving art scene of our city and nourishing a community of people from different walks of life, Para Site is ready to turn the page for a new chapter in its existence. The new space is much larger and has upgraded exhibition facilities as well as a room dedicated to educational activities. This will ensure Para Site’s infrastructure is aligned with its programmes and reputation as a leading Hong Kong and Asian contemporary art centre operating in a global context.

The new location, more easily accessible by public transportation, boasts stunning panoramic views, and will tap into Quarry Bay’s unique culture and place in Hong Kong’s history as a gathering place for those new and old to the area. The new venue is located at 22/F, Wing Wah Industrial building, 677 King’s Road, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong.

Para Site is financially supported by the Springboard Grant under the Arts Capacity Development Funding Scheme of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

The content of this programme does not reflect the views of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Media Partner: Pipeline