CURATOR Sarah Farrar SPONSORS Creative New Zealand, Asia New Zealand Foundation PUBLICATION essay Sarah Farrar, interview Sarah Farrah
Yuk King Tan was born in Australia and raised in New Zealand, and is of Chinese descent. She works across mediums to explore themes of global politics, trade, and consumerism and themes of cultural identity.
In the floor installation—also titled Overflow—objects acquired from two-dollar shops, Asian food warehouses, and markets are arranged in a snowflake pattern. The objects—including masks; toy guns, model aeroplanes, and model tanks; replica money and fake designer goods; Coke cans; and Bruce Lee and terracotta-warrior figurines—imply themes of status, control, and power. Most were purchased in Tan's new home town of Hong Kong, but some were purchased in New Zealand, some from the Warehouse. Many have been dipped in red wax, symbolising transformation. Curator Sarah Farrar describes Tan as an ‘archaeologist of contemporary culture’. Here is ‘a plethora of objects for visitors to take in and visually browse through’.
The prints Shock and Awe and Sunset Industries are also snowflake shaped. Shock and Awe is made from images depicting world events from 9/11 to the 2005 London bombings, taken from Time magazine and the Al Jazeera website. They are arranged chronologically, with the Twin Towers in the centre and the London bombings on the outer. Snowflakes are growing chance-generated structures, and, in her interview with curator Sarah Farrar, Tan says that she wanted ‘to trace a system of images that go from one really iconic moment … to the events which happened after that’. Sunset Industries is made of images of Chinese paper burial objects.
Tan's video Meeting and her photo series Loudspeaker (made in collaboration with photographer Neil Pardington) shift the focus from global to individual experience and refer to the connections and disconnections in large cities that both bring people together and keep them apart. In the video, what would usually be commonplace in these encounters is tilted by the addition of plastic buckets over people’s heads. Taken in locations around Hong Kong, the Loudspeaker photos are about speaking out—being heard. In the Listener, Ian Wedde says the show is about communication—how we communicate across countries, cities, and space.