Haikou Reflections, Hainan Island

Haikou Reflections : EYE to EYE

海口国际青年实验艺术节

August 23 to September 8 2013

Zhongshan Road, Haikou City, Hainan Island, China

I was invited to take part in an exhibition called Haikou Reflections. I decided to spend my residency time drawing in simple pen and ink 120 portraits of people from all walks of life across Haikou City; farmers, hairdressers, bankers, bus drivers, doctors… here is more detail of the underlying motivation. The exhibition took place in a space that was originally a shop and became renovated as a makeshift gallery for the duration of the exhibition. My exhibition was called Eye To Eye. 

I was interviewed for local newspaper Hainan Ribao (Hainan Morning Post) as a result of my exhibition. Here is my original text and also below is news paper articles and translations.


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Microsoft Word - Interview .docx

EYE to EYE 

Traditional classical drawing has always sought draftsmanship geometry and symmetry of the form, whether figure or object, a rigorous representation through the line,accuracy of ratios and precepts adhered towards harmony, proportion 。。。 perfection。 

Kai-Oi Jay Yung has consistently referred to her drawings and paintings as ‘doodles’, means by which through line, pen, paint and ink, she can convey an idea as naturally as writing it. Abstract shapes and symbols become her own language. 

 The 120+ portraits before you lay bare the artist’s untrained hand in any learnt technique in drawing. As an artist Yung works prolifically usually across video, sculpture and installation art to live performance, deploying sound, moving image and materials to create large scale multi-sensory environments to be explored or live interactions with the unsuspecting participant viewer. Whatever the form though, people- their memories, lives, fears and desires are central to Yung’s process.

In recent projects, the portrait through quick line and ink has become a fascination for Yung as a guise to attain rare and exquisite time with the stranger. These drawings, humbly and sometimes crudely shaped and sifted, unintentionally aging or skew or misrepresenting the other demonstrate at once the impossibility of truth and the possibilities of perception. Sidelining all classical etiquette but as an exercise of seeking what is within the eyes of that person- who has surrendered him or herself to be quietly sat and focused upon for several minutes, is the artist’s attempt to seek an inner truth from eye to hand and paper,and to reveal both rhythms of the subject and her own inconsistencies. There is in fact an insufficiency, a vulnerability in the honesty of both unhewn face rendered and the attempt to render it as best as possible with only one’s eye and want guiding each marked line. 

 Some of these portraits were drawn in under one minute; on a jerky bus, university grounds, a smoky cafe, a shoeshop, a street stall, side of a dusty and busy road, …. Some of these people were shopkeepers awaiting customers, shoppers bargaining for goods, students gathering in a parking lot, playing pool, bank tellers, pharmacists.. playing mahjong on the side walk, reading books in a bookshop. The conditions in which the artist created these images are far from conducive to a quiet attelier. Sometimes crouching on a side street in the rain, escaping being thrown out of a cafe, being jostled by ten school children, or rushing the marks before the subject changed their mind… the absurdity of such conditions is reflective on the artist’s attempt to overcome these personal and intimate space en Haikou open air, to transgress the closure of one to another in the cityscape and to penetrate deeper if not for an instant. 

Drawing the people one by way was an intense connection of one set of eyes to another, sometimes the subject unable to retain eye contact, as if hiding oneself, self aware, giggling furiously, fidgeting, worried about what they would look like, as though the drawing would somehow be a truthful re-enactment of something shameful, terrible, unbearable, of seeing oneself through the eyes of the other or inability to recognise oneself would somehow erase oneself’s very identity.

The drawings are resultant of 85% of people approached. The artist chose to draw these people because for her Eye to Eye is a project for the inhabitants of the city. Each portrait represents a very succint and irreplacable point in time. It is insignificant what the portrait looked like in fact, for Yung, each is an offering to each individual, along with each image was a personal invitation to the exhibition, for each person a chance to see themselves in a different way and to bring them into the gallery, perhaps for the first time and perhaps for most who had not otherwise felt art had any place in their life. Within her means, within the context of this 4 day process-led residency and in line with her interests in the psychological and physical exploration of blockage points within the individual, Eye To Eye offers an attempt to bring together the people and thoughts of the city. 

 The artist posed three questions to each person who agreed to be drawn. They related to their thoughts on the future of the city, their contribution towards it and a very personal question related to their experience and memory.  These questions were an attempt for the artist to seek a deeper connection with her sitter, to engage in conversation otherwise difficult with the stranger.

Besides the language barrier, in which an interpreter played a useful role since the artist being only English speaking, the artist found the struggle to answer these questions as revealing as the answers themselves. Whether; surface level responses, inability to answer, people answering what they think they should answer rather than what they really believe- the voices in this gallery are reflective of the encounters the artist by ‘chance’ and offers a glimpse into the unspoken connection. 

Hainan Morning Post Article

1hainan ribao

Before the start of the arts festival, the British artist Jay interviewed almost 200 citizens by herself. 
She asked them three questions: What is the future of HaiKou; What is your contribution to the city of HaiKou? What personal difficulties have you faced? She collated the answers and recorded them as notes which she hung in throughout the exhibition. Everyone who visited can reflect and have further conversation through the notes shown on the wall and consider their own thoughts about HaiKou’s past,present and future. Jay believes there are many artists in HaiKou who also need a platform to express their thoughts, and the Zhong Shan road is a possible site. Jay hopes the Zhong Shan road can be a unique and international space for art. So,the citizens in HaiKou can have a chance to get close to local or international arts and also as a point of reference to support and improve the city culture of HaiKou.
许春媚

您好 看本次艺术节《海口镜像》中一位艺术家Kai-Oi Jay Yung对采的答复

1. 您在作的程中采访了一百多个海口人的回答有什么

我试图走遍海口每个角落,给各处的人画像,与他们建立一种联系从而深入了解海口人的个性特点。与不同年段、社会背景、工作域的人们沟通是很有意义的,我走遍很多银行、公交车、理发店从偏远的乡村地到市区商业中心,目的就是了与更多人交流。给海口人画像比起给其他地方的人画像其实没什么不同,人们同样表出一点害羞、犹豫,以及不明白什么要给他画像。得知我是艺术家,有些人似乎比于配合我作画,协助我完成这个作品有些人则不太愿意得自己比丑、不值得被画,于是我花了一段时间去宽慰和说服他。而对于老年人和小孩子来这种反应就更常见了,即使在别的国家也是如此。比起生意人和上了些年纪的人,学生和年轻人大多能够轻松作答,他们显得更有信心,更有资格回答这些。

我想要表达的不是受教育程度高的人更自信。这些生意人和老者当初没有条件接受高等教育,他有他的生存智慧。但是他们倾向于立刻拒回答我的甚至一走了之他往往一开始就拒而不是单地回答“我只是一个农民,我不懂如何思考……”当我安他们之后,他们最终都会写下他们的想法,每个人都能与人分享自己的看法并自己的想法是合理的,也是重要的。当我把很多人的答案摆在他们面前时他就自己能加入这个行列而感到高兴。

在这个过程中,我发现很多人的回答都很简略而且有点大同小异,或许他们只是在表达他们认为自己应该说的内容。至于为什么要给他们画像,我希望他们有机会感受到自己的重要性、自己所处的地位、所发出的声音,以及他们对于海口乃至整个中国的责任。

我回到展厅的时候,发我的很多画像丢失、或被人拿走了。我曾经期待所有人都来到展厅欣赏他们的画像,欣这个艺术作品,我把它看做与海口人民交流互动的一种升华。当人们随意拿走画像作品我开始反思大众对艺术的尊重、与艺术的联度以及他们心目中对价值的定义,包括他什么可以随意拿走。这也回答了下一个关于海口艺术前景的问题,对于艺术展予应有的关注与爱护。

2.   海口未来的艺术发展前景有怎

对于艺术文化领域从业者和艺术节组织方来有任向大众达积极的正能量人来幸福美好。海口乃至中国正面临着政治、经济、社会等多方面的变革与挑战。作一个艺术家,我有任利用思大众提供一种点在整个价值体系中,究竟什么是对全社会最重要的在社会快速变化过程中我如何对待彼此对待环境。所以艺术的未来需要像黄这样有见的艺术家需要更多像海口国际青年实艺术节这样的大型艺术活动。培养艺术家需要花大量时间。如果要问海口有什么艺术景观,我这次有机会参海口的博物馆,这里保有大量颇有价值的历史资料

海口未来一定会有很多艺术家,同时也会发生文化思想上的转变,从艺术的被动传播变为大众主动将艺术入生活中。独立艺术街区的出现,让艺术家有机会发出自己的声音,为艺术家们提供了一个创作展示艺术作品的平台。这样一来,海口市民得以近距离接触到本地和国际的艺术形式,从而找到海口自身的价值所在。艺术需要更加专业化,启迪大众,并最终建立一个更有意义的价值体系。

Haikou Reflections

The wider festival included small-scale performances, such as dance, theater, music, film, and art exhibitions and took place mainly in the old quarters of Haikou. The architecture is of distinctive Nanyang style – shophouses with European baroque and rococo details.

The theme of the exhibition centers on the city of Haikou. The exhibition will invite outstanding young female artists to create works that touch upon the history and actuality of Haikou, as well as the relationship between local residents and the city. There are no restrictions to the format and materials of these works.

The reason why female artists are invited is because of the relatively subordinate role of women in society. Hainan Island has always had a subordinate status in the history and geography of China. “Feminine” qualities, such as passivity, sensitivity, and balance, like water, have great virtue. These qualities will be brought into play in such an exhibition centered on the city of Haikou.

Click here to see Individual Portraits

See the Trio Portraits here

See the Books here and  Notes &  Tags here 

Click here for Exhibition view

Click here to see Drawing Process

Click here to see Viewers

Click here to read my interview with Hainan Morning Post

Click here for Installing images

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