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artist support programme (ASP) alumni: Chloë Cheuk Sze-wing

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Chloë Cheuk Sze-wing (b.1989, Hong Kong) is now based between Hong Kong and Montreal. Chloë’s practice explores the “structures of feelings” between people and society by reconstructing objects through metaphors, using a pared down vocabulary based in spirituality and esthetics.

Her artworks often touch upon the spectators’ everyday experiences and memories that exist on both an individual and collective level, and which lay the groundwork for intimate conversations. Carrying various implications, the ordinary objects she chooses frequently echo the personal, social, and political facets of our contemporary world.

Chloë has participated in a number of group and solo exhibitions and art festivals in Asia, North and South America, and Europe, including the International Symposium on Electronic Art (Dubai and Montreal), at Ars Electronica (Austria), and at the Asia Society (Hong Kong). She was nominated for the Sovereign Asian Art Prize and Award for Young Artist from the Hong Kong Art Development Award.

Recently, her work Since we last met was collected by M+ Museum, Hong Kong.

Chloë CHEUK Sze-wing was supported by soundpocket’s Artist Support Programme 2014–15.

Personal website >>>

Interview excerpt:

25.5.2021 (Tue) | 11am
Online interview(Montreal, Canada : Hong Kong)

photo by Wong Ka-wing

◎ Living between Hong Kong and Canada

soundpocket: Can you share with us how have you been recently?

Chloë: I moved to Montreal in Canada, a French-speaking neighbourhood. Previously, I had completed my MFA and graduated in Montreal, and I found the living environment there was more suitable for me, I could establish a relatively independent way of life, therefore I decided to stay and see how I could continue developing my art. With my artistic practice, since I’m currently in a situation in which I need to learn a new language and balance work and life, I’m still trying to have better time management, adjusting how I spend my time on different aspects of my daily life, on top of the changes to my entire living environment. So the ways and methods of how I make art have changed correspondingly.

photo by Wong Ka-wing

◎ The change in artistic practice: Installation art and painting

soundpocket: The artworks you made for ‘10 Years of ASP’ are very different from your past work. Are they inspired by your daily life or have you been trying new ways of creation since you were studying MFA in Montreal?

Chloë: Actually, painting has always been an artistic field that I wanted to explore as I learnt to paint on my own before I studied art at university. But I decided to study at the School of Creative Media (City University of Hong Kong) simply because I had already learnt painting, and I wanted to explore other artistic mediums. At that time new media was on the rise and I had no clue what it was, but I thought this medium would inevitably continue developing in the future. I wanted to know its artistic possibilities, so I shifted to this field. Although I stopped painting, I studied and learnt a lot about installation, electronic, and interactive (media) art. Meanwhile, I knew that I still enjoyed painting – I think artists who practice painting are amazing, they seem to be stimulated by the ideology and philosophy of painting as they create. Yet as I haven’t officially studied in this field, I felt like I’m not qualified to create with painting.

I regained the courage to paint again because of an interview I read with Hajra Waheed, a female artist. I saw her work “Sea Change” in the Venice Biennale. She draws many square paintings of the sea, which imply people who had gone missing, or other colonial stories and issues where people need to swim across the sea in order to escape yet eventually go missing. Later on, she came to do a sharing session at the school where I was studying in Montreal. She talked about when she was studying for her BA and she was painting; but after graduation she didn’t paint again until she got pregnant during the time she was working for the Venice Biennale. She felt that she might not be capable of creating work in other artistic mediums given her physical condition, and therefore decided to paint again. Before that, she had not painted for almost fourteen years. I personally related a lot to that while I was listening to her sharing session, that one can reconnect to something you once were very fond of – this touched me, and I thought maybe I could take up painting again too. Besides, “technical” [or new media] art is indeed a more complicated and difficult medium – I need to go through a very long process before I can try something new in this medium, while painting is very direct. Since the circumstances of my artistic practice have changed, I think the most direct way of picking up art again is through painting.

photo by Wong Ka-wing

The artwork with image transfers that I created for ‘10 Years of ASP’ is not 100% painting. Those photographs are taken by the photojournalist Kenji Wong Wai-kin. He was my classmate at the School of Creative Media, and he has a great artistic sense since studying at university. You can see this in his photographs as they are different from other journalistic images you see on news platforms. It just happened that I was developing new works related to the theme of journalism. From a book that I was reading I realised that photojournalism is more emotionally connected to the reader compared to telling the news through text or numbers. I wanted to create work related to Hong Kong, and I thought the element of photojournalism might be a suitable direction in which to develop the work – that photographs could present what had happened in the most direct way. I tried to overcome the geographical distance (as I’m far away in Montreal) via retouching these photographic materials I gathered. It is still in a preliminary stage; I also need to reflect more on what exactly the work is in itself and how it could be developed.

My previous works were relatively personal, but as I’m growing older and the more I know about people living in Montreal, I understand that many of them are immigrants who moved to Canada because of issues in their original countries. This makes me feel more familiar with the world and other issues regarding humanity, of how it also affects me, our living environment and the people around us. For example, some Palestinian people go to protests near where I live in Montreal, and seeing them actually reminded me of Hong Kong and I started crying spontaneously. I felt some kind of connection to them; I can feel their pain even though I don’t fully understand the complicated issues that lie beneath. I have friends from the Middle East; before I might not have had many chances to get to know about these issues happening in the world, but now I realize how they can relate to me. I started to think about “journalism”, and I won’t totally believe what is reported in the newspapers nowadays. You need to get to know the people, listen to their narratives and emotions before you make any judgements. I’m trying to study the ideology and themes behind “journalism” to learn more about what is happening in society.