“My work can be made on my bedroom floor. In a sense it’s very domestic, very minimal—it can be focused on one simple action.”
b.1980, Hong Kong. Lives and works in Hong Kong
Kwan Sheung Chi combines an anarchic disposition with a keen sense of the absurd. Although (or perhaps because) he lives in China’s wealthiest city, his art circles around money like a tongue around a sore tooth. In one performance, he cast a gold coin inscribed with the phrase “Hong Kong core values”, then offered it as a prize in a raffle; in another, he destroyed the value of a $HK1000 bill by erasing most of its markings. One Million (2013) is one of a series of works involving the counting of money. A pair of hands begin counting what appear to be half a dozen 100-renminbi notes. But the counting does not stop at six notes, or even ten. An hour passes and it is still in progress, a mechanical shuffle-click sounding off each note.) The supply of money seems infinite, yet—as Robin Peckham observes—since the video actually shows one note-flip digitally multiplied, “the money is never really there”.
Even when Kwan Sheung Chi turns to (apparently) pure farce, his performances have a serious or slyly political aspect. In Doing It With Chi—Making an Exit Bag (2009) and Doing It With Mrs Kwan—Making Pepper Spray (2012) the artist and his wife pose as DIY instructors—cousins of the YouTube amateurs who offer quick and easy solutions to everyday problems. The cheerfully banal presentation of both sets of instructions—the first a copy of a genuine video by the euthanasia advocacy group Exit International—and the euphemistic refusal to discuss their intended purpose, invest a familiar genre with sinister overtones.