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The floating bamboos hang across the southern court 浮空兩竹橫南閣

Passage Gallery, Sydney

November 17 - December 23, 2023

The floating bamboos hang across the southern court 浮空兩竹橫南閣draws from So's personal experience of returning to Hong Kong and witnessing the aftermath of a devastating flood endured by the city. On the city's streets mud, unearthed trees and household rubbish laid sullied and silt-ladened under Hong Kong's neon lights. This flood resonated with So, representing the uncontrollable force of Hong Kong's love affair with modernity, washing away ancestral traditions with the bright lights of the future, and the political upheaval of radical change Hong Kong's society has endured in recent years.

In this installation, So contemplates the notions of time and its inexorable passage. So's experience of time is represented in the different materials present in the show, ancestral time symbolised by antique chairs is pierced by the unrelenting modernity of the cheap PVC bamboo pipes while the installation is awashed in street lights summoning the night where time stands still. 

At the core of So's installation is the wisdom imparted by his poet ancestor, Su Shi—who asserted that no one can truly live without a bamboo garden. Culturally significant, the bamboo garden represents a vital setting for existence in ancient Chinese culture. Bamboo's tall, straight stems symbolise resilience and an upright character, reflecting the values of integrity and strength in the face of adversity, yet bamboo's ability to bend without breaking in strong winds symbolises adaptability and growth. In his installation, So replaces the traditional bamboo garden with store bought unrefined materials similar to those that washed up in Hong Kong's flood, becoming a poignant metaphor for modernity superseding and overshadowing the wisdom and philosophies of the past.

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