Written & Photos by PMQ Life
Translated by Wendy Yiu
Location：Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale | Hong Kong House - Lam Tung Pang
An unfinished picture open to imagination
Since its establishment in 2018, “Hong Kong House”, part of the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, has collaborated with artists from a diverse background to create new projects. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Lam Tung Pang, participating artist of the current edition of the international art festival, has not been able to travel to Japan. The artist did not let the pandemic stop his creative juices from flowing; instead, he worked on an installation work titled Half-step House remotely with his pumping imagination.
What lies deep within Half-step House is, indeed, a sense of perseverance. The work follows the protagonist’s imaginative journey to the Hong Kong House. Unable to visit the multi-functional gallery space in person, the protagonist can only get to know about the Tsunan town, where the House is located, through literary works, personal interviews, online information and other secondary sources. To underline the significance of imagination, Lam took a bold step to give the space a facelift with two different approaches. One half of the House now features text, music, graphics, moving images and other elements, arranged to conjure up an indoor landscape. In contrast, the neighboring half is left completely empty—an intentional void with which Lam actively invites viewer’s imagination to complete the full picture.
The title Half-step House not only refers to the artist’s arduous steps to create during these difficult times, but also conveys a lot of playfulness in terms of language. In Cantonese, the character “step” in the title can be replaced by a homophonic Japanese Kanji character, which tweaks the meaning to “half a house”. This pun is an example of the shared ambiguity between Japanese and Chinese languages and cultures that has deeply fascinated Lam throughout the creative process. So, it is no surprise for visitors in the House to sense a similar uncanniness upon seeing the synonymous Japanese Kanji and traditional Chinese characters and hearing Cantopop songs adapted from Japanese music. Lam has deliberately incorporated these conventions shared by both cultures in the work and presented them in an equilibrium. “It’s about the convergence of the two ‘halves’. You come into contact with an unfamiliar culture and reflect on your own culture,” says Lam. “This is the most interesting thing about having cultural exchange: you feel some sort of resonance, but you don’t fully understand what it is. It only gets clearer with your imagination and active searching.”
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Lam Tung Pang, participating artist of the current edition of the international art festival, has not been able to travel to Japan. The artist did not let the pandemic stop his creative juices from flowing; instead, he worked on an installation work titled 'Half-step House' remotely with his pumping imagination.