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artist support programme (ASP) alumni: Aaron LAM Kwok-yam

photo by South Ho

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Aaron Lam Kwok-yam (b.1995, Guangdong Province, China) received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the Academy of Visual Arts, Hong Kong Baptist University in 2019.

Currently living and working in Hong Kong, Aaron is a member of Popo-Post Art Group founded in 2018.

Influenced by the reciprocal relationship between personal experience and social phenomenon, his works explore the themes of identity, memory, time, living conditions, and emotional entanglement.

Aaron Lam Kwok-yam was supported by soundpocket’s Artist Support Programme 2019–20.

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Interview excerpt:

15.06.2021 (Tue)|5pm
Fu Lee Loy Shopping Centre, Hong Kong

photo by Wong Ka-wing

◎ ‘Unsettlement’ in ‘10 Years of ASP’: The rivalry of forces

soundpocket: What is the concept behind the exhibition ‘Unsettlement’?

Aaron: I think the exhibition is presenting a restrained and unsettled state, or a state of instability, a state of rivalry. By using different objects, materials, and creative methods, I tried to illustrate these states within the exhibition space. Let me give another example, the exhibition is very much related to “the expression of force”. I rubbed the wall with a postcard (“Fogginess and poor visibility lead to disorientation”) – the force of this friction is connected to the pulling and dragging of the heat-shrink tubing (“You kept saying that I was unrealistic”). The way in which the anemoscope (“The other me will help me”) doesn’t rely on outer force (ventilation) but uses electricity to be activated is also an illustration of “force”. The instability of the water within the plastic bag hanging from the ceiling (“Don’t be afraid”), how it seems to be falling but actually is not – this sense of impending danger that is created is another illustration of “force”. The same with the two product packages attached on the wall (“Ready to move”) – as if they were something growing from the space itself. The entire exhibition is actually composed of these “forces”, which can somehow represent my emotions and states of mind.

“Fogginess and poor visibility lead to disorientation”
photo by Wong Ka-wing

soundpocket: Is this sense of rival forces something you have wanted to show in your recent work, or is it a feeling you have towards the exhibition space itself [Fu Lee Loy Shopping Centre Shop 35], from which you have been inspired to develop this series of works?

Aaron: I had sometimes used this kind of tactic of the rivalry of forces in my previous artworks, but it was not that explicit, it was rather present symbolically. What I mean by that is that when I want to express some issues in my work, in the first place I would consider using symbols related to those issues – this is a habit in my usual artistic practice. It was only after visiting this exhibition space that I decided to emphasize this expression of force, and it became more explicit.

“Honey! Not Well.”
photo by Wong Ka-wing

soundpocket: There are seven new works made for ‘Unsettlement’. How has this series of work developed? Was there some work that you already wanted to do at the beginning, and then gradually developed the rest? How were you inspired by Shop 35 when you were thinking of the artwork titles?

Aaron: There were some artworks that I already wanted to make, while some were inspired by the exhibition space itself. For example, “Honey! Not Well.”. “Honeywell” is the brand name of the air conditioner switch. I found it fascinating because it is an ambiguous but romantic word that I felt out of tune with the space. When there is something tender and ambiguous existing in such a raw and rough space, I wish I can be flexible enough to take this or amplify this element as my artistic material. When I have an idea, I will consider if it coincides with the space. If yes, then I will have a go with it. Meanwhile, there were also some thoughts inspired by the space, and if these thoughts had a strong linkage with the exhibition, then I developed the piece from them. I thought about the works a lot while stationed in the exhibition space, but eventually I made some choices based on this thinking.

“Allows you to go down”
photo by Wong Ka-wing

◎ Collaboration with the curator

soundpocket: As we know, Sing [Jantzen Sing TSE, curator of ‘Unsettlement’, supported artist of Artist Support Programme 2011–12] encouraged you to create works using different mediums and materials, including “electricity”. Despite the fact that you worked with many materials in your previous creations, is “electricity” a completely new attempt for you?

Aaron: Indeed. For me, I think “electricity” also relates to “force”. The work titled “Allows you to go down”: its vertical structure of adapter plugs and the lamp bulb attached to the end seems to be holding up the entire space, and I wanted to respond to the space. It is not only that I like trying out new materials, but I enjoy the tension created when I put these materials together. These objects or materials are not being shown individually; there are different reactions between them. The way I use these materials and objects takes them out of their daily context or our usual understanding of them, and I hope the audience can encounter a new experience this way. I think it is a sensation, an ability, or experience you need to have when making art. You have such great freedom when using ready-made objects or random materials, yet I have one internal rule: that the object or material itself has to react or respond to the exhibition space; ‘Unsettlement’ is just such an attempt. I always think in this way when creating site-specific work. On the other hand, if I were just making a sculpture, I could add different materials according to my concept or wishes.