“Weirding Worlds” flourish in Hong Kong

“Weirding Worlds” flourish in Hong Kong

Strange and fantastic suspended worlds of three talented female artists opened their doors on 23rd March, 2024 at Charlotte Lin and Cusson Cheng‘s brand new PODIUM Gallery, in Hong Kong. This space, with cold but welcoming tones, hosts emerging artists engaged in creative practices that reflect a particular aesthetic, often in dialogue with social issues. The first exhibition hosted at the PODIUM is Weirding Worlds, where three artists – Shuyi Cao, Anastasia Komar and So Young Park – take inspiration from the book by Donna J. Haraway (Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene, Durham: Duke University Press, 2016, p.55.) to tell their visions through paintings, sculptures and videos. What motivates these artists to express themselves through their works is the relentless narrative of survival on a now infected planet, as well as the urge to explore new ways to understand ourselves as part of an ever-evolving planetary community, and to evolve with it. In this journey, as in the book, we question what happens when humanity, after having irremediably disturbed the balance of planet Earth, stops considering itself the fulcrum of the world.

“Weirding Worlds”, exhibition view, PODIUM, Hong Kong, 2024. Ph. Lok Hang Wu, courtesy PODIUM

In the exhibition journey, as in the book Chthulucene, we question what happens when humanity, after having irremediably disturbed the balance of Earth, stops considering itself the fulcrum of the world. During the ecological crisis, what connections can be re-established not only among humans, but also amid all the species that populate the planet? The exhibition invites us to reflect on the fact that everything is interconnected, everything is contaminated, and everything concerns us. In the interpretation of the feminist scholar and historian of science and technology Donna Haraway, it becomes essential to conceive a perspective that requires «continuous multispecies narratives and practices of evolution in unstable times, in times in which the world is in flux and the sky is not yet fallen». Only then will it be possible to understand that ecological interdependence opens up multiple possibilities for kinship in the future. This means not only strengthening bonds rooted in ancestor and genealogy, but also understanding that all earthly beings are linked at the level of matter and energy: after all, every sentient being shares a common flesh of molecules, atoms and quantum particles. Through multimedia sculptural installations, moving image works, three-dimensional biomorphic panels and sci-fi landscape paintings, artists such as Shuyi Cao, Anastasia Komar and So Young Park invite the audience to interact, collaborate and immerse themselves intensely in the terrestrial world, giving voice to destabilizing forms, in which everyone can «improve and progress» in a constantly evolving climate.

“Weirding Worlds”, exhibition view, PODIUM, Hong Kong, 2024. Ph. Lok Hang Wu, courtesy PODIUM

Entering the PODIUM we find Shuyi Cao’s recent works from 2024 from the series The Other Writing (a kind of precarious slime), sculptures that emerge as enigmatic fossilized testimonies, engraved in the earthly matter, which evoke miniature landscapes or fragments of meteorites from unknown worlds. Using a combination of aquatic resin, aluminum and fragments coming from nature, fauna, flora and human activities, Cao realizes works that span various time scales, resulting in organic forms that recall real geological surfaces; these works act as a shifting register of the Earth, displaying non-linguistic signs that tell the story of the planet. In her fascinating video, however, shot in 8K lasting 8 minutes and 45 seconds, entitled Begin with the End of What Comes Before, 2024, the artist merges microscopic images with digital animations, exploring the profound interconnection between biological and geological issues during planetary evolution and human action. Other works on display, presented by Cao on industrial pedestals of raw concrete, include hand-blown borosilicate glass sculptures entitled Intimacy of Strangers and glazed stoneware sculptures entitled as they folded in and breached out; thus creating a microcosm of strange unions among life forms, where the works materialize interconnected networks that challenge traditional biological classifications, opening new perspectives on the nature of relationships within our world.

Shuyi Cao, “Begin with the End of What Comes Before”, 2024. 8K video, 3D printed sculptures, 8’45’’. Courtesy the artist and PODIUM

The second artist on display is New Yorker Anastasia Komar. Her distinctive abstract acrylic paintings, intertwined with sculptural structures made of glass or electrolyte polymers, represent the culmination of her research in cutting-edge science, exploring the mysterious intersection between art and contemporary bioengineering. With an enigmatic reptilian creature, hugging the wooden panel in fascinating blue-silver tones, the 2024 work Tuatara – which means “spiny back” in the Māori language – explores the most unusual and peculiar part of the body of the marine species Sphenodontia, as symbol of a powerful and intuitive force imbued with an ancestral wisdom. In vibrant turquoise hues and with brilliant hook-shaped elements, the similar work Siphonophorae explores the co-dependent nature of these complex polymorphic creatures, encouraging the viewer to reflect on the concept of static, finite entities, and the importance of the contribution of humanity in facing the global challenges and creating a better world. Ascomycetes is instead a work painted in shades of blue and yellow, superimposed by the grip of a transparent element which brings to light the process of formation and circulation of matter through the asexual reproduction of decomposer fungi. The work eloquently explores the intricate link between fungi, nature and the cycle of life, highlighting the importance of their interdependence in the formation and in sustenance of ecosystems.

Anastasia Komar, “Tuatara”, 2024. Acrylic and electroplated polymer on board, 46,7 x 64 x 9,2 cm. Courtesy the artist, Management and PODIUM

Anastasia Komar,“Ascomycetes”, 2024. Acrylic and glass polymer on board, 36 x 45,9 x 7,5 cm. Courtesy the artist, Management and PODIUM

Following the exhibition itinerary, we find the vivid paintings by So Young Park that, with their shades of purple and intense blue, create a surprising contrast with the sage green tiles of the terrace and blend harmoniously with the stainless-steel panels in the gallery space. Park, in one of her large works, an oil on canvas entitled The way, where I am going from 2024, portrays a large foot, in which waterfalls and glaciers come to life and melt into misty waters; presenting the painting as an act of humility and submission, the work invites the viewer to immerse themselves and be baptized by those waters, almost as if the body itself dissolved into molecules of hydrogen and oxygen. After the Waves offers a glimpse into the dreamscape of a planet transformed by tides similar to liquid metals, with the ground dissolving into a viscous fluid and a dark object approaching. This painting evokes traumatic memories from pre-symbolic eras, stimulating the viewer’s reflection on ancient and mysterious times. Among Park’s most intimate pictorial experiments there are Deep sea and Remnant, both from 2024, they depict mystical creatures wandering in unknown realms, with lilac and metallic waves and landscapes. These beings seem to exude a disturbing strangeness, inviting the user to explore fantastic and unknown worlds. 2023’s Laputa presents a title that reminds of Hayao Miyazaki’s 1986 fantasy adventure animated film and, before that, the flying island from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, and explores the paradoxical and strange nature of the planetary future, offering a fascinating and often disturbing gaze on what might await humanity.

So Young Park, “Remnant”, 2024. Oil on canvas, 50 x 40 cm. Courtesy the artist, P21 and PODIUM

So Young Park, “Laputa”, 2023. Oil on canvas, 50 x 40 cm. Courtesy the artist, P21 and PODIUM

“Weirding worlds” cross Hong Kong, elements, sublime creatures and natural phenomena test the arrival of a new artistic hub, the PODIUM, where the common denominator of its first exhibition is certainly the birth and hope of a new interpretation of the world. The desire that through a magnifying glass on nature we can understand who we really are and what we would like to be.

Benedetta Spagnuolo


Shuyi Cao, Anastasia Komar, So Young Park, Weirding Worlds
23/03/2024 – 04/05/2024
curated by Cusson Cheng
Unit 9D, E Tat Factory Building
4 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong


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