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artist support programme (ASP) alumni: Samson CHEUNG Choi-sang

photo by South Ho

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Interview excerpt:

As a Business Administration Degree graduate, Samson Cheung Choi Sang didn’t manage his subsequent so-called “career path” well enough. Coincidentally, he came into contact with photography and then opened up his ears from the coffee marks left on a cup. He started to make artworks seriously after he was selected to be part of soundpocket’s Artist Support Programme in 2014–15 and was given the chance to take part in an artist residency in Chicago. At the beginning, he explored his ideas through performance, spatial interventions, and installations with which to place himself and the participants into certain situations. Recently, he has found the motivation to explore images as a way to produce narratives. He has participated in exhibitions and performances include ‘Attachment-Detachment: The fluxes of subjects and objects’ Hong Kong Taiwan Art Exchange Exhibition (Hong Kong, 2017), ‘Being There 2017 – Artist Residency and retreat camp’ (Kyoto, 2017), ‘ifva Everywhere Carnival’ (Hong Kong, 2018), and The House of Hong Kong Literature: ‘On the Brink of Borrowed Time: To Stay/To Flee’ (Hong Kong, 2020).

Samson is now switching roles between art-worker, professional photographer, and amateur daddy.

Samson Cheung Choi-sang was supported by soundpocket’s Artist Support Programme 2014–15.

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10.6.2021 (Wed) |10pm
Online interview

◎ “Action Stills” at ‘10 Years of ASP’: A record of the previous performances

soundpocket: Why do you want to show the photo documentation of your previous performances in the ‘10 Years of ASP’ exhibition?

Samson: I just wanted to fill that space (the advertisement light box). I think it is interesting to put something there, like a billboard.

soundpocket: If you wanted to put something there, why did you choose to show the record of your previous performances? You could have created a series of new photos or photography works.

Samson: No, it has to be related. The reason is that my performances were to create some dramatic scenes in different corners. The photo documentation of the performances have naturally become “action stills”.

soundpocket: What are you referring to when you said it had to be related?

Samson: The work has to be related to soundpocket, and to my previous works. That reminds me of the documentation of my previous performances. That was quite fun, like I was working on a billboard to be displayed on the street. I did not randomly pick photos for the work. On the left side of the lightbox (the side next to the main exhibition entrance), those are the photos taken during my performance at the closing performance “Fill Up Something” of Mark Chung’s exhibition ‘Wheezing’ (de Sarthe Gallery, 2020). I took screenshots from the video documentation of my previous performances, and from soundpocket’s social media. It was like a group of people arranged in a row, and you can only see their shadows, without their faces, and only their legs showing.

I also thought about making a video of all the screenshots of the tiles on the floor from my previous performances, but I did not have time to work on this. Coincidentally, the screenshots of the previous performances are quite quirky, that is why I started to assemble them and make them look like an advertisement. I was inspired by supermarket sale flyers. They are stuck all over the place, with eye-catching images and price tags. When I saw the advertisement light box at Fu Lee Loy Shopping Centre, I decided to work with it for this reason.

soundpocket: Are those performances all related to soundpocket?

Samson: I have only taken out documentation of my own performances, not those with other artists.

soundpocket: All of them are solo?

Samson: Yes. Solo and site-specific.

photo by Wong Ka-wing

◎ Performing arts and “Expectation Management”

soundpocket: There are two major directions in the creation of your artworks: photography is one, and the other is performance art (but not performing art). You have slowly developed your direction in performance art over the years. What do you think about your performances?

Samson: Let me talk about them one by one. The reason why Mark Chung wanted me to perform was that he saw my performance at Cattle Depot for C & G Artpartment in 2017 (the site-specific performance “Transition” at ‘Attachment-Detachment: The fluxes of subjects and objects’). That was a Hong Kong Taiwan Art Exchange Exhibition. “Art Together” then invited me to participate in the artist-in-residency programme in Taiwan, and I performed there based on my experiences in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The content of this performance was based on the redevelopment of the old districts there. “Art Together” focused on researching the Wanhua District in Taipei. It is like To Kwa Wan in Hong Kong – two old districts in the city that will be redeveloped. The performance was also about the railway. I imagined what changes would be brought to the district if the railway (Shatin-Central line introduced by MTR) goes through it.

So, Mark asked me to collaborate with him after seeing the Cattle Depot performance. When I was preparing for the “Fill Up Something” performance, I did an “expectation management” performance. I was trying to control the expectation of the audience. You could see me moving here and there at the performance venue (it was the same when I was doing the Cattle Depot performance, but I did not think much about the rationale behind it then). I was moving around, and the audience could not foresee what I was going to do next. It was like peeling an onion, sometimes it was slow and then it went faster. I worked on something for a while and then something else would happen in the next moment.

photo by Wong Ka-wing

◎ Space experiment: Imagination on performance space

soundpocket: How do you prepare your performances? You said that many of them were planned. Do you usually start with the characteristics of the performance space, or acts that you have always wanted to perform?

Samson: For most of the time, I make use of the characteristics of the performance space when I start planning my performances. It was not like in the beginning when everything was improvised. I find that I no longer have the ability to do improvisation. That made me switch to plan-making before each performance.

photo by Wong Ka-wing

soundpocket: You are working on some live broadcast experiments, right? Will live broadcast be one of the elements of the ‘10 Years of ASP’ performance?

Samson: Yes, I think I will do some live broadcasting then.

soundpocket: What is the idea of “glare”?

Samson: I do not want to explicitly reveal the context of the performance. Mark Chung would like to use contact microphones to imitate the sound of bombs… About the performance name “glare”, I think I like the state of anti-climax, like there is a very strong light – it is captivating but at the same time it hurts your eyes… Also, I would like to do something with the escalator at Fu Lee Loy Shopping Centre. I will also prepare some video clips, and decide if I will make use of them during the performance.