Artist Pension Trust (APT) Institute collaborates with MTR Corporation and JCDecaux to present the first-ever new media exhibition in Hong Kong's MTR stations
Hongkongers may have perenially hectic lives, but that doesn't mean they're too busy to appreciate art.
Inspired by the New York subway system, which embraces the arts, Artist Pension Trust
(APT) Global board member Hamilton Tang came up with an idea to make artworks as accessible to the public as possible — via a digital media exhibition staged inside the territory's mass transit railway (MTR) stations, a first for Hong Kong.
According to data from MTR Corporation (MTRC), an estimated 1.1 million commuters pass by the stations' JCDecaux screens every day. "I can't think of any better way one can reach so many people at once," Tang says.
The exhibition — titled On Track — features artworks by Wang Yahui from Taiwan and Junebum Park from Korea.
Wang's Two Billion Light Years of Solitude shows light spots shining from the rooms of apartment buildings at night, which resemble sparkling stars. Every light in the building has its own story, just like the legends behind every constellation in the sky.
Meanwhile, Park's Making an Apartment follows the imagination of apartment buildings and their creation and multiplication as an essential sight in every city. However, urbanisation is always more obvious in retrospect, as the artist suggests.
The exhibition has been curated by APT Institute director David A Ross, previously director at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, along with APT Institute programme director Jennifer Chung.
The original works are viewed as continuous segments, says Tang. For On Track, the team edited five 10-second snippets, which are shown on 54 digital screen panels across 10 stations in Hong Kong, including Central, Causeway Bay and Tsimshatsui.
Both works involve topics that are "near and dear" to the Hong Kong public, says Tang. The title of the exhibition implies having to constantly keep up with a schedule, which is an allusion to the lives Hongkongers lead — rushing from place to place, unable to stop and take a break.
Tang says that's precisely the point of holding the exhibition in MTR stations: "Art can be enjoyed even in a flash," he explains. According to Ross, the objective of the exhibition is to provide "a breather for commuters, with the romantic notion that art can be taken in small doses, generating a connection with artwork, whether to spark an idea or recall a memory in the seconds during which one waits for his or her ride on the platform."
Tang believes that new media has found a home in Hong Kong, crediting the work done by Ellen Pau, co-founder of Videotage and director of the Microwave New Media Art Festival. Pau also attended the opening ceremony for On Track, which took place on 4 November at the Art in MTR — Living Art Stage at Hong Kong Station.
Tang says he hopes to make the exhibition an annual event, and already has the backing of Andrew Mead, the MTRC's chief architect. "[Mead's] mandate is to bring more and more art into the MTR. I think as well as ourselves, other organisations want to make this an annual exercise," says Tang.
APT was formed 10 years ago and has the largest global collection of contemporary art, comprising over 13,000 artworks from over 2,000 select artists in 81 different countries. The APT Institute is the non-profit arm of APT, established at the beginning of last year. It has arranged over 500 loans of APT's collection, giving much exposure for its member-artists in leading institutions, such as MoMA and Tate Modern.
The exhibition runs till end November 2014. Click here to check out videos of the artworks.