Subsumption is a collaborative exhibition of Swedish Artist Frank Lee and Hong Kong artist Kwan Q Li. In the postmodern era, 50 years after Guy Debord’s theory, the awareness of questioning and reflecting on the society of spectacle is gradually increasing. This directly points to everydayness. No matter in Western or Hong Kong local culture, there are plenty of unspoken rituals and norms that are easily overlooked and normalised. When the subsumption goes beyond the biological form to the dimension of society, it could be a symbol of metropolis as ideological melting pots. Under this circumstance, the two artists provide an interdisciplinary exhibition set within historical, cultural and social protocols in response to the subjugation and suppression in contemporary contexts of Hong Kong.
Frank Lee is a fictitious artist name. They or them asks that no one takes their photograph. As a feminist artist, their work often echoes their emotional interpretation of history and the human condition in reshaping everyday objects. Their artworks have a particular focus on the social identity of female which looks at how the unwritten etiquette of submission and masked feelings that we learn through life are echoed and construct all areas of society. Frank used to be an actor and set designer. They have the belief that each object is not only put on stage to frame the environment of the story in time and space, but also to communicate these multiple veneers, the protagonist’s journey. This is also the perspective that Frank explores in their artworks which are without the restrictions of the story of plays, narrativizing a new “story” that is more delicate and sentimental. The way those porcelains are repaired by soft string reflects vulnerability and flexibility in where there once only was hardness. Echoed in every being in this epoch, there are hints of healing amongst all that is broken.
In response to Frank Lee’s Victorian-staged ‘Render Compliance’, Kwan Q Li, a Hong Kong-based artist and writer, has specifically designed an opening reception that takes the form of a fusion pharmacy. Today we are in the post-diet world – the artist speculates – when atomised familial values are founded on fast food delivery and supplement pilgrimage. Circular gold frames irradiate at the end of the room, presenting a unique menu of mocktails that are bound to lure you with their guilt-free recipes. 219 Enzyme+, Chlorella tablets, Organic Womankind Tea, fresh lime slices… all promise not to disappoint. Lip, Sip, Suck. The audience is instructed to appropriate the tacky drinking gesture into a gathering ritual, mirroring the almost religious reconciliation epitomized by Frank’s soft strings threaded through porcelain fragments.
Conventional banquets may only find their remains of existence spiced with instrumental values – spectacular openings, performative networking, instagram-fed events. Kwan Q Li’s ‘Feel Good Flesh Zero’ mixes a spoonful of contemporaneity into Frank’s historically-rooted interrogation of subjugation and sexuality, stirring up temporalities within a space in which the compliance of social protocol is further stretched.