As part of the ‘Studio + Archive Project’, the exhibition ‘Artificial / State’ departs from the Para Site Archive and invites Jeff Cheng Tsz Fung and Li Hiuwa, two artists working with photography as their primary medium, to look back on 25 years of archival material in order to reinterpret historical memory and to explore temporality. The exhibition is curated by Kobe Ko.
Jeff Cheng Tsz Fung rephotographs archival images using macro photography, and attempts to displace these images from their original contexts through repeated reproduction. The new images are processed, with visible evidence of tampering, and then rephotographed once more. Through the artist’s repeated interference with the images, their original significance is broken down and reconstructed, magnifying the distance between historical memory and reality.
Li Hiuwa contemplates photographic documentation through photographic mediums. He creates photosensitive daguerreotypes while removing the processes of image development and fixation, leaving his photographic devices in a constant state of exposure. As the daguerreotypes are continuously exposed during the exhibition, they capture their surroundings including the audience themselves, while the gelatin silver simultaneously darkens to obscure the imaging surface. Over time, every moment exists in the liminal space between being documented and eroded. In the artist’s experimental practice of ‘documentation’, the audience’s presence and the work’s own existence form an experience of synchronicity.
Accumulated over 25 years, physical materials in the archive have decayed, whereas the inherent spirit and concepts have transformed on a metaphysical level to produce pluralities and ambiguities. The two artists have been contemplating both photography as a medium as well as the nature of archives: What is the purpose of documentation? Must an image have a referent? How effective is photography as a form of documentation given its limited scope? What is the significance of an archive in the context of time? Through ‘indirect capturing’ of their subjects, the photographic works in the exhibition are attempts in exploring some of these questions.