HAPPENINGText: Samantha Culp

It is only natural that video has emerged as a dominant medium for artists in Hong Kong. In a city where most young artists still live with their parents in tiny flats, and can’t afford studio space or physical materials, it makes sense that the relatively “small” scale of video (requiring only a vision, a camera, and perhaps a computer for editing) should be so appealing. Starting in the late 1980s, many of HK’s leading artists have worked in video, but few have attained the success or widespread recognition of Jamsen Law.

Matching 4 with 12 – Digesting Patience (2000)

In August and September, the Hong Kong Art Center presents a retrospective of the video work of Jamsen Law, ranging from his early work documenting performances of the arts/drama collective “20 Beans + a Box,” to his more recent pieces exploring questions of identity and time in the midst of travel and chaos.

Matching 4 with 12 – Mapping Vapour (2002)

A graduate of the Fine Arts program at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Law went on to act as the Chairperson of Videotage (Hong Kong’s premiere video/media-arts collective and gallery), and served to represent Hong Kong in many international festivals and residencies. He is one of the best-known Hong Kong video artists, alongside pioneers like Ellen Pau and Yau Ching, and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree at IAMAS in Japan.

Programme 1 of his retrospective debuted on August 27th in the Agnes B. Cinema, kicking off with one of his first videos, “Every Time We Say Goodbye” made of a “20 Beans + a Box” performance in the early nineties. Layers of scenes and angles overlap and fade into one another as the performers move around the stage, enacting childhood tantrums and animal-like twitches and spasms. A single character may be on stage in two places at once, with the gentle blurring of performance-time that intensifies until it is almost a double-exposure, and then clears up again to a single moment in time, distinctly documented. The next piece was “Matching 4 with 12,” often discussed in criticisms of Law’s work and of Hong Kong art in general.

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Yuka Kasai