Contemporary artist Lee Kit is opening a new space for creative dialogue in Sham Shui Po
ee kit is renowned for his intriguing presentation of everyday materials and objects. The Hong Kong artist represented his hometown at the 2013 Venice Biennale with You (you), an exhibit that both revealed and concealed personal interactions and associations through the juxtaposition of utilitarian objects with sound, video and performance works. He has also exhibited elsewhere overseas, including at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Tate Modern in London. Kit’s latest project, Things That Can Happen, is a multifunctional art space created with friend and curator Chantal Wong. Featuring gallery spaces, a library and a studio for an artist in residence, it occupies the first floor of a traditional tong lau in Sham Shui Po. The non-profit venture, which enjoys the support of entrepreneurs Alan Lo and Darrin Woo, who own the building, opens this month and will run for an initial period of two years. Lee says Things That Can Happen is a place for experimentation and dialogue, and seeks to make a connection between the city’s wealthy galleries and grass-roots artists. thingsthatcanhappen.hk Why have you chosen to locate your gallery in Sham Shui Po? The district is very international. It’s a relatively poor area but it’s also very vibrant. You can get anything you want here—good food, all sorts of materials. There is also a big difference between night and day in this area. I love it when the sun has set and all the tiny noodle shops open up.
Explain your fascination with everyday objects. I always see something in the objects I work with. I sense some sort of emotion. Sometimes I see happiness in an object; sometimes I see something sad; sometimes I even see anger in an object. I don’t know if it’s a projection or an association.
Is it true you have a love-hate relationship with Hong Kong? And why is that? I actually like Hong Kong very much. A lot of people have a lovehate relationship with their hometown. With the changing political situation in Hong Kong I find that I hate it more and more, but I also care about it more and more. Actually, I think Hong Kong people are selfish, but not too selfish. How do you see the relationship between art and politics? I think art in general is a projector. Everything has become very extreme in the contemporary art scene in Hong Kong, and I think this is a reflection of the social and the political situation in the city.
What’s behind your choice of materials, such as cloth and cardboard, in your art? It’s difficult for me to explain why I use certain materials. I like cheap materials or equipment and I tend to use them in a low-profile way.
What do you think about the future of the city’s art scene? The art scene is growing bigger and bigger but the distance between the money side of art and the grass-roots side is also getting bigger and bigger. I don’t know if it’s good or not, but I think there could be more discussion about that. There are lots of interesting artists in Hong Kong. Many oil painters are underrated.
Who would you love to see at the opening party of your space? I just don’t want one person to come. He’s a politician; everyone knows him.
king of the everyday Lee Kit’s new gallery space will showcase the work of experimental artists