Dismantling The Scaffold
Dismantling the Scaffold, 8 Jun - 15 Aug, 2018, Tai Kwun Contemporary, JC Contemporary, Hong Kong: inaugural exhibition curated by the Hong Kong curator Christina Li and presented by Spring Workshop at Tai Kwun Contemporary.
Dismantling the Scaffold brings together works from local and international artists and collectives, a constellation of artworks which engage with the social and civil structures we collectively inhabit. The original points of departure for the show—collaborations and transformations— arose from specific histories and spaces: first, the collaboration of Spring Workshop and Tai Kwun (one closing, the other opening); second, the transformations of the Central Police Station site itself, from an efficient “one-stop shop” of the colonial police, judicial, and penitentiary apparatus, to a site where WWII prisoners of war and Vietnamese refugees were administrated and housed, to now a restored centre for heritage and arts. In some ways, the story is one from darkness (of history) to light.
The motif of the “scaffold” is thus used as a metaphor throughout the exhibition. In architectural terms, the scaffold is a temporary support structure for repairs and changes to a building; in Hong Kong, in particular, bamboo scaffolds can be seen everywhere. When the scaffold is dismantled, an improved, updated, and often entirely transformed building is revealed, which then embarks upon a new era of its role and function. On the other hand, scaffolds have had other functions, too; in particular, the exhibition also reflects on a structure used to stage public executions and punishments in the past, especially as thought of by the French historian Michel Foucault, who contributed greatly to our understanding of power and its relation to punishment and imprisonment.
In line with the framework of architecture and civic life epitomized through the central metaphor of the scaffold, artworks within the exhibition explore the potential of art as the means to illuminate and unpack our relationship with society at large. They are poignant reflections of the invisible and visible structures that constitute and organise our daily existence with our surroundings and with one another.