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The Art of Desire

Art often channels our inner desire – the love, the fantasy, the hatred. When it is put into a exhibition context, the artist’s desire also becomes the visitor’s desire. This is the reason when I saw these three art pieces in the first edition Art Basel Hong Kong, I feel particularly intrigued.

“Play – (201301)” by Chinese art group Madein Company is a suspended sculpture shaped like a Gothic cathedral, but with accessories that reference BDSM such as leather, latex and chains. The whole piece is suspended using the Japanese erotic bondage technique Kinbaku. It’s crash of religion and sexual desire.


“Hong Kong Intervention” is photographic works by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, featuring 100 Filipino domestic helpers in Hong Kong. An anonymous portrait of the helpers’ back is paired with a photograph of their workspace with a toy grenade put somewhere in the picture. With no financial incentives, the domestic helpers are willing to participate without their employers’ knowledge.  With the grenade placed in each picture, the focus is no longer on the employers’ houses, but more on the intention of the domestic helpers. How many of them did actually think of “bombing” their workspace? I wonder.



“Saturday Night” of Korean photographer Insook Kim penetrates deep into the hidden desire of metropolitan. Her lens leads us into the rooms of a V-shaped hotel and reveals the stories behind the closed doors. The drug, sex, and all kind of quirkiness. Does a closed door guarantee anonymity? Or one is actually excited about their private activities being observed? The tension between observers and the objects brings out our secret fantasy. Interestingly, this hotel bears a striking resemblance with The Standard in New York, where the transparency almost becomes a heaven for exhibitionists. Don’t you feel scared that this series of photograph is indeed an accurate portrait of real life?

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