LEE : Please introduce yourself briefly
SIU : I would like to claim myself is a photography artist, as most of my works are photography-based, some of them are really photography, and some of them are related to the concept of photography (e.g. time and space in photography is also my interest about photography)
LEE : You are now the most active artist in your 30s. Do you have a sense of problems penetrating Hong Kong's 20 to 30 contemporary artists?
SIU : I think Hong Kong is still an open city and allows people to express themselves, even the art scene. But I can feel that the room of freedom of speech is getting narrow, and artists are trying different/indirect way to express themselves.
LEE : Hong Kong is hosting a planning exhibition of young artists at a department store gallery. This is rarely the case in Korea.
SIU : Yes, Hong Kong is a highly commercialized/capitalized city, for businessmen, art is a kind of a strategy to promote their product/shopping mall, at the same time, we have many art fairs in Hong Kong, but we actually think this a super-market of art, local artist won’t get much from that.
LEE : Hong Kong has a serious social problem with housing. Artispace is likely to be affected, so is the non-profit space open to young artists? Also, please explain the new space that the younger generation of Hong Kong is making.
SIU : It’s really serious, normally people have to spend 30 years or more to pay back the loan. Studio and art spaces in industrial buildings was also affected, many artists couldn’t afford the high rate of renting art space. At the same time the government re-activated some abandoned spaces (like old industrial buildings or historical building) as a new art space for different aspects of art. Normally those buildings are managed by art-related organizer, and run it as non-profit space for artist. However they need applicants (the artist) provide a proposal and CV as part of their consideration to offer the space/studio to artist or not. They have a special policy for young artist, which normally accept artists who just graduate from art-related program within 2 years and submit a proposal of their plan in the future. However, these special scheme is offering a specially low price for art student/graduate, I think this is good for young artist who need space to do their work. However, the number of this kind of spaces are limited, so not many art student/graduate can rent a cheap space to make art.
LEE : Is the young artist welfare fund system active in Hong Kong? You've been working pretty actively. How are assets, space and resources acquired that continue to work?
SIU : Those artists who are not good at writing or communication, they may need someone to help them to get the sponsor/fund from the others.
But in my case, I am quite a lucky one to have chance to work with different organizations, such as M+, WYNG foundation, ext. I think artists (mostly are not rich and lack of resources) should grab the chance to work with different organization to realize their artistic idea, if you get the fund/support from third party, you will have less pressure/limitation on making work and resources. And I also rent a small studio at JCCAC (one of the non-profit art space in HK, http://www.jccac.org.hk/) , which is affordable, for doing my work. This small studio helps me a lots. However, you cannot earn living by finding funding from different organization, which is not stable. Therefore, many Hong Kong Artists are actually “Part-time”, they have another work to support their living. I am also teaching part-timely in different universities and institutes.
LEE : How are you working with M+Rover ?
SIU : This was a great experience to work with them. This was an art education program which has a mobile studio travels to different schools in Hong Kong (nearly 1000 students joined this program each year), artist had to hold a workshop to inspire students, this was not only about art, but to use art as a start to let them experience the possibility of life.
LEE : Hong Kong, including Hong Kong Art Basel and the opening of the M + Museum, Is widely expected as the center of Asian art. I wonder what hope Hong Kong Artists have for their art.
SIU : I don’t know, so far we cannot see many artists are benefited from that. Everything in Hong Kong is commercialized, the Art Basel and different art fairs are actually a super market of Art, and artists are exploited. But I think artists should be true to themselves, which no need to aware the tend or market.
Walled buildings in Tsuen Wan West, 29 x 148 inch, 2010
Highway in Tsing Yi, 20.7 x 125.5inch, 2010
Tseung Kwan O Chinese Permanent Cemetery, 30.1 x 188.3 inch, 2010
Construction yard in Tseung Kwan O, 14.8 x 74.8 inch, 2010
LEE : Let's talk about the artwork. First, You mentioned the relationship between Hong Kong and the United Kingdom on the website. I wonder how you started this work and what your inspiration was.
SIU : Yes, it’s a start to think of my identity, not only Hong Kong and UK, but also China is also a matter to inspire me. My father was born in China, and he stowed away to Hong Kong in 1970s. And I was born in 1980s, I grew up at the last 10 years of colonial period. After the hand-over to China, I started to think of my identity which is really complicated for me. We all Hong Kong people have to re-new our ID card when 18 year-old, I remember that when the officer told me which nationality I was, I couldn’t answer instantly, and thought for a while, and answered “UK”. I was frustrated, even now, it is still a question for me.
LEE : How did you treat your city in < Metropolis Chlorophyll > and < X-Photography > ?
SIU : I think is the density of Hong Kong, it is a really packed city, people are close in distance, but far in relation and thought. and I treated city is an unnatural substance, which is conflicting with the nature, however the nature has the power to oppose the urban development, and sometime, ironically, people need nature, and they rebuilt a fake nature after they destroyed everything.
LEE : You continue to work on the city issues in Hong Kong. For example, < The Roadsider > I need an explanation.
SIU : This is a photo project about the air pollution of Hong Kong, I collected different plants from roadside of various locations which were significantly show the poor air quality of Hong Kong. The photographs were output in a size of 1m X 1m, viewer can easily see the dust and pollutants on the surface on vegetation.
LEE : What photography are you considering for work?
SIU : I treat it as a medium to connect reality and my mind, because photography has a strong power to connect the reality, but this is boring to capture and illustrate the fact, but more interesting if we use its ability to tell more what artist is concerning.
LEE : Do you have any memorable exhibits?
SIU : < The Elusive > This was a small solo exhibition of mine, but this was my first time to combine photography and media art as a new form of photography. This was a start to let me explored more possibility of photography, may be not only how it connects with the truth.
LEE : Thank you. Lastly, What are your future plans?
SIU : I will launch my final series about history and identity of Hong Kong, after that I will continue to experiment more about the possibility of photography, in more in-depth metaphysical way.