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New works by Kwan Sheung Chi and Mariana Hahn weave a city tale of Hong Kong
Installation view.

HONG KONG.- MILL6 Foundation (formerly known as The Mills Gallery) presents ‘Social Fabric: New Work by Mariana Hahn and Kwan Sheung Chi’, a duo exhibition bringing together new works by German artist-in-residence Mariana Hahn and Hong Kong artist Kwan Sheung Chi, guest curated by internationally renowned curator David Elliott. With reference to the symbolic icons of the city, the two artists share in lamenting the irrevocable loss of memories in the relentless march of progress, while questioning the future of Hong Kong amid its current context. Juxtaposed against each other, the duo weaves a vivid picture of Hong Kong across space and time. ‘Social Fabric’ runs from 22 March to 21 April, 2016 at The Annex in Central. MILL6 will be seen in other pop-up spaces until the completion of the heritage conservation project of its permanent home in Tsuen Wan in 2018.

Inaugurating MILL6’s Artist-in-Residence programme, Mariana Hahn spent 2 months researching on Lantau Island the Zishunü (自梳女), literally “self-combed women”, the skilled woman silk workers of the Pearl River Delta, who chose to retain their independence by working at the silk mills staying unmarried. Some had fled to Hong Kong in the 1940s, and two were rumored to still live on the island, prompting Hahn’s interest. During her journey, she also became inspired by her unexpected encounter with one of the last old “Tanka” (蜑家), boat dwellers who lived on fishing. Hahn’s resulting series of work – objects, drawings and videos - narrate the forgotten stories of these vivid characters, who formed a critical part of the city’s proud origin as a fishing village. Knitting heritage craft, treasured memories and humanistic values, her 30 plus new works in 7 series create a poetic dialogue between Hong Kong’s past and present, within a nuanced context of ferocious urban development.

Concurrently, Kwan Sheung Chi continues his oeuvre to “thwart people’s expectations”, and in the process conceptually highlights the controversy of the city amid its current state of fluidity. The artist often questions not only the social and aesthetic “use” of art in general, but also its relevance to and position in the contemporary culture of materialism. Skeptical about the pretension of “great art”, Kwan devises accessible works which he deems “necessary” by bringing perspective and clarity to the context, underlined by a sardonic view of the vicissitudes of daily life. With the artist’s unique visual language, the curated works both old and new sharply address Hong Kong’s culture, identity and future with deadpan irony, an issue close to the hearts of many Hong Kong people. In addition to his old work Hong Kong (2012), in which a city map is folded into a globe, new bodies of work including a large installation and other works created especially for MILL6 present an immersive experience for viewers, taking them on an enlightened journey of visual, tactile and mental exploration.

Guest curator David Elliott is delighted about the insights brought to the subject by the young artists. “Berlin-based Mariana Hahn, who last year took up MILL6’s artist residency in Hong Kong, and Kwan Sheung Chi, who was born here […] both confront specific elements within the art, culture, and political ecology of the region. Yet, this is not an exhibition that reflects only the myths and realities of Hong Kong: the rumbustious story of its colonial past, as well as the wavering uncertainty of its uber-materialist present, also resonate strongly in experience elsewhere. In different ways, both Hahn and Kwan pick up on this in their work and, in spite of obvious differences in their education and upbringing, their work has certain parallels.”

Angelika Li, Director of MILL6 Foundation, remarks, "As a young arts and cultural institution with a dedication to textile arts, we aspire to establish the foundation of our mission by building vocabularies and knowledge, accumulating definitions and interpretations with each program and activity. We express our gratitude to the two artists Mariana Hahn and Kwan Sheung Chi and our guest curator David Elliott for interweaving with us the second exhibition of MILL6.”

‘Social Fabric’ is the continuation of MILL6 Foundation’s acclaimed inaugural exhibition ‘Tracing some places’, furthering the commitment to acknowledge the city’s unique culture, heritage and history. The cross-cultural artistic presentation is also testament to the Foundation’s determination to engage and nurture artistic talent by providing sources of inspiration that foster new thoughts, ideas and works, taking Hong Kong’s rich textile heritage as a springboard for creation. MILL6 Foundation is a non-profit arts and cultural institution, a registered charitable organization under section 88 of the Inland Revenue Ordinance in Hong Kong.

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