poster of someone featuring new works by ivy ma

Exploring the blurred line between “personal” memories and “cultural” memories

In the exhibition “Someone”, a collection of photographs and mixed media images of blurred faces and shadowy forms will be shown. Ivy Ma’s work has always been concerned with memory and specifically with exploring the blurred line between “personal” memories and “cultural” memories. Unlike her series of “still lifes” in 2010 in which she focused on objects and fragments of the mise-en-scene from specific, often classic, films, Ivy shifted her attention from objects and spaces to people in the new exhibition. She has gathered together a collective body of blurred faces and shadowy forms from the edges of our cultural memory. The images that form the source material for these works range from the most familiar (though unknown to the audience) people in the artist’s life (family photos) to pictures of strangers (found photos, antique photos bought from stores while travelling), to the puzzled faces and discombobulated bodies of people caught in streets in times of war and disaster (historical photos). These anonymous, silent people and their unknown, unhistoricised lives are the citizens of Ivy’s “Someone”.

No “blank space” in memory

The subjective aspect of both memory and history (and their relationship) is brought to the surface in details. Working directly on single frames lifted from films or fragments of historical photographs, Ivy physically engages the image, erasing large swaths of visual information, overlaying hand-drawn patterns or embellishing existing elements. This process – a purposeful intervention of the haptic into the realm of the visual – is, indeed, the very heart of Ivy’s practice. Ivy insists on this haptic imperative, quietly upending the Cartesian dialectic. In her work the hand supplants the eye as the dominant site of perception and the body becomes seat of knowledge. According to Ivy, the seemingly random, hand-drawn elements are not attempts to “fill in” the gaps of memory. To the contrary: they are an acknowledgement of memory’s imperfection and impurity which, at the same time, suggest that there is no “blank space” in memory. Something is there. Something that tells us, if we choose to listen and look closely, of the “someone” we are. The images that make up this series, “Someone”, do not tell a story or try to complete a narrative. Isolated, cropped, and infused with tiny hand-drawn details the pictures are prodded free of their historical web and float like memories often do. Or dreams.

About the title “Someone”

The title “Someone” is taken directly from a poem by the Danish poet, Inger Christensen. In her book “It” there is a section of a poem with 66 lines, each starting with the word “Someone”. The text itself is like a series of multiple camera angles that depict many different “someone(s)” (or perhaps the same person) as they act/ think/ be within life’s framework. This text will be highlighted in the exhibition as one piece of work.

About the artist

Ivy Ma attained her BA (Fine Arts) degree from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT)/ The Art School in 2001 and her MA in Feminist Theory and Practice in the Visual Art University of Leeds, UK in 2002. A recipient of the FCO Chevening University of Leeds Scholarship from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council in 2001, Ivy is at the same time an Asian Cultural Council grantee (2007) and had a touring solo exhibition with the Artists in the Neighbourhood Scheme V (2011). She held two solo exhibitions, titled “gazes” (2010) and “Numbers Standing Still” (2012). She was awarded the Young Artist Award at the Hong Kong Contemporary Art Awards (2012). Ivy’s work has been included in the Hong Kong Biennial 2005 and collected by the Hong Kong Heritage Museum.

About the exhibition

Dates: 29 Aug – 18 Sep 2014

Venue: Goethe-Gallery and Black Box Studio

Opening Reception: 29 Aug 2014 Fri 19:00

Gallery Opening Hours: 10:00-20:30 Mon-Fri

Tel: 852-28020088

Add: 14/F Hong Kong Arts Centre, 2 Harbour Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong

Courtesy of the artist and Goethe-Institut Hongkong, for further information please visit

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