M+, the museum of visual culture in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District, is pleased to announce Ambiguously Yours: Gender in Hong Kong Popular Culture, the museum’s first exhibition exploring popular culture through the aesthetics of androgyny and gender fluidity, and the dynamic interplay with visual art, design and moving image. Ambiguously Yours will run from 17 March to 21 May, 2017, and is the third exhibition to be presented at the M+ Pavilion, a permanent space on the West Kowloon site that hosts the museum’s exhibitions leading up to the opening of the M+ building in late 2019.
Featuring over 90 works dating from the 1960s to 2016, Ambiguously Yours focuses in particular on the 1980s and 1990s, widely recognised as the heyday of Hong Kong popular culture, to look at how the widespread experimentation and creativity of that period has had a lasting influence on the visual culture of today. The exhibition showcases works from the M+ Collection, and those on loan from prestigious local institutions, private collectors, and artists to show how ideas around male and female roles and behaviours were routinely challenged in popular culture, creating a daring and pluralistic platform upon which the aesthetics of androgyny and gender ambiguity proliferated.
Ambiguously Yours is made up of four main sections:
The exhibition opens with the iconic concert costumes of Cantopop legends Roman Tam and Anita Mui, alongside more contemporary artists such as singer and actor Denise Ho. Designed by renowned local fashion designers including Eddie Lau and Silvio Chan, these outfits, alongside the work of Hong Kong icon Leslie Cheung, demonstrate that performances depicting fluid ideas around gender, cross-dressing, and flamboyance can be considered both counter-cultural or subversive and widely popular and beloved.
In the second section, the exhibition presents a selection of film clips that explore the narrative plurality of Hong Kong cinema during the economic boom of the late 1980s and 1990s, including Stanley Kwan’s classic story, Rouge (1988), through to Wong Kar-wai’s Chungking Express (1994), to analyse how narrative and theatrical tropes have been used in film to address societal attitudes to male and female roles in contemporary life.
The relationship between popular culture and the field of graphic design is then examined through a wide range of media, including album cover designs, City Magazine covers and photography. This section celebrates the collaborative and creative nature of art directing and graphic design through the work of artists like Alan Chan, Wing Shya, William Chang Suk-ping, and anothermountainman, and explores how gender served as a means of design innovation.
The final section of the exhibition explores popular culture as a rich source of inspiration for artists through a selection of works from the M+ Collection. Wilson Shieh’s depiction of the Hong Kong skyline encourages a new reading of the city’s most recognizable buildings, while Ho Sin Tung and Ming Wong pay homage to the experience of cinema. The collages of Japanese pop artist Keiichi Tanaami explore the instability of meaning in the age of mass communication, while the work of Singaporean designer Theseus Chan draws on multiple influences in his magazine designs.
Ambiguously Yours: Gender in Hong Kong Popular Culture is curated by Tina Pang, Curator, Hong Kong Visual Culture; Chloe Chow, Assistant Curator, Hong Kong Visual Culture; and Janis Law, Curatorial Assistant, Moving Image, with Dr Chow Yiu-fai and Dr Ng Chun-hung as curatorial advisors.
Suhanya Raffel, Executive Director of M+, said: “The M+ Pavilion program has provided a perfect on site location in West Kowloon to present an ongoing series of exhibitions that addresses M+’s curatorial interests. Ambiguously Yours sees our curators develop an exhibition that presents new perspectives on a very familiar and beloved period of Hong Kong cinema and popular culture. I am certain that this exhibition will be another profound stepping stone in our museum’s mission to increase knowledge with both local and international audiences.”
“In this exhibition, we wanted to recognise the creative experimentation that flourished in relation to popular culture of the 1980s and 1990s in Hong Kong by presenting it through a fresh new perspective; one that has great contemporary relevance,” said Tina Pang, Curator, Hong Kong Visual Culture. “Bringing together talented individuals from the fields of art, design, fashion, music, theatre, film and advertising, the entertainment industry was pioneering in its multidisciplinary nature, and drew naturally upon influences from the avant-garde to Cantonese opera. It was this creative dynamism that contributed to the regional and international success of Hong Kong’s Cantopop and film industries. Ambiguously Yours is an exciting opportunity for local audiences to reconsider familiar works through the lens of contemporary ideas about gender politics, while also introducing new audiences beyond Hong Kong to some of our greatest performers and actors.”
“Ambiguously Yours looks at various artistic representations of gender ambiguity and fludility as a starting point in examining the ways through which Hong Kong popular culture popularises, deepens, and shapes the notion of mainstream gender stereotype,” said Chloe Chow, Assistant Curator, Hong Kong Visual Culture.
About the exhibition
Dates: 17 March– 21 May, 2017
Venue: M+, the museum of visual culture in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District
Courtesy of M+, the museum of visual culture in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District, for further information please visit www.westkowloon.hk/en/mplus.