Art Talk  Leung Chi Wo

The Notion of “Home” is a Recurrent Subject in Leung’s Artistic Practice.

Text: Ho Siu Bun
Translation: Perfect Ink Media
Photo by courtesy of artist

Leung Chi Wo first created Open Home in 2007 after visiting a number of local residences to explore the living spaces of Hong Kong people and their intimate relationship with it. The project, which was viewed in a flat by appointment only, featured 30 monologues by different people talking about their homes. “I worked on this project from 2005 through 2008,” says Leung.

More recently, the artist created another project called Monuments for Solitude in 2018. Commissioned by Thailand Biennale Krabi 2018, this project featured empty public phone booths that acted as a space for contemplation. What purpose do they serve when they’re not even equipped with the actual telephones? “[It is] a space that has lost its original meaning. It makes you reflect on your relationship with the world. In this last remaining space with total privacy, what would you say to yourself?” Leung adds.

To be held in a hotel by the end of this year, Home and Nonhome comprises two parts. In the hotel lobby, Leung recreates his previous work Monuments for Solitude (2018), where the old telephone booth signifies a bygone way of communication between home and sojourner. His other work, Open Home (2007), and a new set of installations will be situated in two separate hotel rooms.

“When was the last time you saw an indoor telephone booth?” Leung asks. In a modern hotel lobby sits a vintage telephone booth from the 1970s, not equipped with any telephone, but rather a piece of petrified wood. “You can tell the subtle difference simply by touching, for the stone is cold and the wood is warm. To think of it as a metaphor, something we always take for granted may turn out to be completely different from what we expected once we get to experience it,” the artist explains.

Part two of the project takes place in a pair of hotel rooms and can be viewed by appointment at specific time slots only (with specific time bookings). Thirty monologues by different people talking about their homes will be played in one of the rooms, while the other features a new set of installations that further develop the artist’s ideas. “The content from the first room is specific, presented as a whole and in the past, while those in the other room are abstract, fragmented, and about the future,” he says.

Open Home (2007)

Is Hong Kong still your home?
“Back in 2007, I considered the Open Home presentation would be only the first episode and I would like to see it installed in a show flat (a model home) as part two, and a hotel room (home-in-transit) as part three to complete the trilogy,” Leung explains. Partly private and partly public, a hotel offers the perfect setting for his new installation. It is by no means close to a real home, and yet it provides almost all of the functionalities common in any normal household. “As a place where travellers or people in-transit can have a good night’s sleep, hotels often attract guests with a commitment to provide ‘home comforts’. It’s interesting to imagine a foreign place that doesn’t belong to you as your home,” he says.

As part of the creative process, Leung talked to five young people in Hong Kong aged around 16 and 17 and made recordings of their monologues about the notion of “home”. “Four out of five were preparing to leave the city to pursue further studies. Even the remaining one, who wasn’t fortunate enough to afford to study abroad, was planning to major in a practical subject that could in turn help him secure an opportunity to move overseas,” Leung says with frustration. When asked to think of something at home.

Monuments for Solitude (2018)

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