M+, the new museum of visual culture in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District, is delighted to present Five Artists: Sites Encountered, an exhibition featuring an international selection of female artists working across various mediums. On view from 7 June to 20 October 2019, this ninth exhibition at the M+ Pavilion displays important works by May Fung (Hong Kong, born 1952), Lee Bul (Korean, born 1964), Ana Mendieta (American, born Cuba 1948–1985), and Charlotte Posenenske (German, 1930–1985), as well as a specially commissioned project by Lara Almarcegui (Spanish, born 1972), bringing together a diverse group of artists to explore different understandings of site — from intangible to tangible and imagined to real.

This cross-cultural and cross-generational exhibition features works spanning from the 1960s to the present, including sculptures, installations, and moving images. The multifaceted works emerge from dialogues with place and environment across different historical moments and perspectives, prompting viewers to explore their own place and sense of belonging in the world.

Curated by Pauline J. Yao, Lead Curator, Visual Art, M+, Five Artists: Sites Encountered can be seen as a loose dialogue with the M+ Pavilion and the soon-to-be completed M+ building. Taking this important stage of evolution as a departure point, the exhibition carries special resonance with the transformations occurring at the museum’s site. Specifically, Lara Almarcegui offers in the commissioned work a scientific expression of the construction currently underway.

The exhibition also includes moving image works by Ana Mendieta and May Fung, who are, respectively, pioneers of performance and video art. Several films from Mendieta’s influential Silueta series will be on view, ranging from one of her earliest, Silueta del Laberinto (1974), set in an ancient burial site in Yagul, Mexico, to one of her last, produced in her native Cuba a few years before her death. These poignant works document the artist’s performative actions in which she impressed her body into dirt, sand, and mud and transformed these materials with water, smoke, and fire. Also addressing site through the display of bodily encounters, Fung’s She Said Why Me (1989) features images of a blindfolded woman wandering in the streets of Hong Kong. Her process of rediscovery is intertwined with black-and-white archival footage of women of different ages and backgrounds similarly navigating the city.

Sculptures by German Minimalist artist Charlotte Posenenske are also included in the exhibition. Resembling ventilation shafts, her Vierkantrohre series can be arranged in multiple configurations. The industrially produced parts made from galvanised steel and heavy-grade cardboard can take different shapes for each exhibition, responding to the architectural space and the wishes of the exhibition organiser. Other sculptural works are a group of over thirty maquettes created by Lee Bul, one of the leading Korean visual artists of her generation. These models of real and fictional buildings respond to ideas of architectural utopias, as does her hanging sculpture, intricately crafted from steel, metal sheets, and mirrors.

Suhanya Raffel, Museum Director of M+, describes the exhibition as a significant step forward in articulating the museum’s vision: ‘We are extremely proud to assemble a diverse group of internationally acclaimed artists from Asia, Europe, and North America in this single exhibition, which attests to our commitment to building a global museum of visual culture. As we continue to grow and expand through this important stage of transformation, this exhibition presents an essential opportunity to build M+’s collections of works of contemporary female artists.’

Pauline J. Yao, Lead Curator, Visual Art, M+, underscores the importance of showcasing artistic diversity: ‘With this group of artists, hailing from various points on the globe, we establish M+ as not only a museum unconfined by boundaries or geographies, but also one committed to presenting singular artistic voices. All of us are shaped in some way by our surroundings, but the dialogues with site and place that emerge from visual artists remain wholly unique. They are motivated by desires to make meaning from their place in the world and role within society. A commitment to present these artistic perspectives—as wide and diverse as they may be—is central to the mission of M+.’

Programmes accompanying the exhibition include reconfiguration performances of Charlotte Posenenske’s sculptures, conversations with exhibiting artists, a teachers’ private viewing, and a series of thematic and curator-led tours. For more information, please visit www.mplus.org.hk/sitesencountered.

Exhibition details
Five Artists: Sites Encountered is curated by Pauline J. Yao, Lead Curator, Visual Art, M+; assisted by Ethan Cheng, Assistant Curator, Visual Art, M+; Vera Lam, Curatorial Assistant, M+; and Jenny Wang, Intern, M+.

Graphic design: Fellow, Singapore
Dates: 7 June - 20 October 2019
Opening hours: 11am–6pm, Wednesdays to Sundays and on public holidays
Location: M+ Pavilion, Art Park, West Kowloon Cultural District
Admission: free

Remarks

About M+
M+ is a museum dedicated to collecting, exhibiting, and interpreting visual art, design and architecture, moving image, and Hong Kong visual culture of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District, we are building one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary visual culture in the world, with a bold ambition to establish ourselves as one of the world’s leading cultural institutions. Our aim is to create a new kind of museum that reflects our unique time and place, a museum that builds on Hong Kong’s historic balance of the local and international to define a distinctive and innovative voice for Asia’s twenty-first century.

About the West Kowloon Cultural District
The West Kowloon Cultural District is one of the largest and most ambitious cultural projects in the world. Its vision is to create a vibrant new cultural quarter for Hong Kong on forty hectares of reclaimed land located alongside Victoria Harbour. With a varied mix of theatres, performance spaces, and museums, the West Kowloon Cultural District will produce and host world-class exhibitions, performances, and cultural events, providing twenty-three hectares of public open space, including a two-kilometre waterfront promenade.

About Lara Almarcegui
Lara Almarcegui (Spanish, born 1972) is a widely acclaimed visual artist who has built a practice around investigating the material aspects of land and urban space. For over twenty years, the Rotterdam-based artist has been visiting different cities to identify abandoned, unused, or forgotten plots of land, examining the processes of contemporary transformations brought by social, political, and economic changes. She conducted relevant research on these lands and brought them to light through photography, publications, and installations. In recent years, Almarcegui’s attention has turned towards construction sites, in particular the composite materials used to construct new buildings and the cyclical relationship between land and architecture. Almarcegui has completed commissions for numerous international biennials and represented Spain in the Spanish Pavilion of the 55th Venice Biennale (2013).

About May Fung
May Fung (Hong Kong, born 1952) is one of the most important moving image artists working in Hong Kong today. She has been an influential voice in experimental practice in the city for over three decades, with a body of work that is interwoven with history and politics. In 1985, with Ellen Pau, Wong Chi-fai, and Comyn Mo, Fung co-founded Videotage, a Hong Kong collective that supports experimental video and new media work. Her moving image practice encompasses theatre and installations, reflecting the influence of her long-standing relationship with Hong Kong experimental theatre company Zuni Icosahedron. In addition to her art practice, she is active as an art educator.

About Lee Bul
Lee Bul (Korean, born 1964) is an internationally renowned artist who has made versatile contributions to contemporary art. Living and working in Seoul, she creates performances, sculptures, and installations to explore issues of gender and sexuality, questioning patriarchal authority by revealing ideologies that permeate our cultural and political spheres. Academically trained in sculpture, Lee appeared on the art scene in the late 1980s as a performance artist and turned her attention to sculptures by the mid-1990s. Crafted from materials such as metal, silicone, and crystal beads, her recent sculptural works often draw inspiration from the futuristic visions of nineteenth- and twentieth-century utopian thinkers and architects. Mid-career retrospectives of her work have been mounted by the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2012) and the Hayward Gallery, London (2018).

About Ana Mendieta
Ana Mendieta (American, born Cuba. 1948–1985) is a globally celebrated artist who created work in Cuba, Mexico, Italy, and the United States. Drawing largely from her history of being displaced from her native Cuba, her wide-ranging works—including performances, photographs, sculptures, paintings, and films—speak uniquely to themes such as feminism, humanity, identity, mortality, place, and belonging. In 1978, Mendieta relocated to New York and joined the A.I.R. Gallery, the first all-female artists’ cooperative gallery in the US.  Known for pushing sexual, religious, and political boundaries, Mendieta’s works brought art into closer contact with the social realities of her time and remain profoundly influential. Mendieta has been the subject of several posthumous career survey exhibitions organised by the New Museum of Contemporary Art (1987), the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (2004), and the Art Institute of Chicago (2011). More recently, her films have been showcased at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery of the University of Minnesota and the Jeu de Paume, Paris.

About Charlotte Posenenske
Charlotte Posenenske (German, 1930–1985) is a pioneering sculptor whose artistic contributions have been lasting and far-reaching. Posenenske became inspired by the American Minimalism movement during visits to New York in the early 1960s and developed a penchant for industrial materials and processes. She displayed her works in highly democratic ways, allowing her sculptures to be rearranged to fit different spaces. This revolutionary approach introduces ideas of variability and cooperation, forging an exceptional connection between Minimalist art and participatory practices. In 1968, Posenenske left the art world and worked as a sociologist specialising in labour relations until her death. Several posthumous exhibitions of Posenenske’s career have been mounted, including a major touring retrospective currently on view at Dia:Beacon, New York.

About Pauline J. Yao
Pauline J. Yao is Lead Curator, Visual Art, at M+. She has held curatorial positions at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and worked as an independent curator and writer in Beijing for six years, during which time she helped co-found the storefront art space Arrow Factory. Since joining M+ in 2012, Yao has played a leading role in building the visual art collection by overseeing and acquiring works from around Asia and beyond. A co-curator of the 2009 Shenzhen and Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture, Yao is a regular contributor to Artforum International and is the co-editor of PODIUM, M+’s online publication. Her writings on contemporary Asian art have appeared in numerous catalogues, online publications, and edited volumes. Recently, she co-curated In Search of Southeast Asia through the M+ Collections, an exhibition held last year at the M+ Pavilion.