This series of home-based, creative exercises reexamines the role of art during moments of crisis in the contemporary world.
In light of class suspensions in Hong Kong during the coronavirus outbreak in spring 2020, AAA has invited local artists to design a range of educational activities for teachers to help students carry out at home. These exercises encourage teachers and students to reflect upon their experience of the virus outbreak, relevant social issues, and the purpose of art in times of emergency.
Taking a video filmed at Wuhan as a point of departure, artist Law Yuk Mui guides students to reflect upon human relationships and social distancing during the virus outbreak. This exercise also prompts students to research selected artworks, and encourages them to make their own creations.
Teachers are invited to share the process and result of students practising these exercises on Learning & Participation’s Facebook group: Contemporary Art in Asia: Teachers’ Community
Play the following video: “Wuhan doctorquarantines herself from family, husband lights her way to work each night”
Teachers ask students to take turns describing the content of the video and then expressing their feelings about it.
Teachers can guide students to further understand the context of this video, for example, an epidemic that got out of control, the lockdown of a city overnight, the suspension of public transport services—and the change, impact, and suppression brought by these objective factorsto the life of the local people.
The discussion can also focus on the interaction between the couple in the video. Do students think that it is a kind of separation, or an act of guarding each other? Are the husband and wife driven apart, or drawn closer to each other? What is being separated from a person when one is quarantined—the body, virus, or interpersonal relationships? Does a quarantine draw a line that cannot be crossed at all? Who draws this line? Does distance create tension? Does distance affect our emotions, or does it manifest power?
Teachers guide students to write about their recent experiences of being close to, as well as far apart from other people. Encourage students to start by describing the events—the more details, the better—then ask students to describe what they feel about such closeness/distance.
- Yoko Ono, Light Piece, 1963
- Olafur Eliasson, The Weather Project, 2003
- South Ho, Into Light, 2007–2008
- Elin O’Hara Slavivk, After Hiroshima (the cyanotypes in the work), 2008
Invite students to look up the above artworks that use light as a creative instruction/subject matter/material, then complete the following sentences according to their understanding of these artworks:
Light ___________, ___________, ___________.
Invite students to reflect on it and then rearrange or rewrite the above sentence into a poem.
Light ___________, ___________, ___________.
Teachers then ask students to use “light” as a creative material or medium, to express or respond to their experiences or feelings in Part 2.
4. Further Reading
Teachers can ask students to look up the performance art pieces by Marina Abramović and Ulay listed below. They may focus on looking at artists’ interviews to understand how the artists felt and what they were thinking during the performances, e.g. The Story of Marina Abramović & Ulay. Ask students to identify the feelings of each artist within the same work.
- The Artist is Present, 2010
- The Lovers—The Great Walk, 1988
- Rest Energy, 1980
Notes to Teachers
The works by Marina Abramović and Ulay can be used as extended material for learning about distance, relations, and tension. The students may be able to find things that attract them which are not related to this small exercise. Let them follow through with their curiosity, and regularly document and respond to their own observations and feelings.
About the Artist
Born in 1982, Law Yuk Mui lives and works in Hong Kong. Law graduated from The Chinese University of Hong Kong with a Master of Fine Arts. She is the co-founder of the artist-run organisation Rooftop Institute. Using images, sound, and installations as her mediums of preference, and adopting the methodology of field study and collecting, her works often involve interventions in mundane spaces amidst the daily life of the city, combining the physical traces of history, the psychological pathways of human beings, the marks made by time, and political power in relation to geographic space. In 2018, Law received the award for Young Artist (Media Art Category) from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, and the Excellence Award (Media Art Category) at the 23rd ifva Awards in Hong Kong.
Publishing date: 12 Mar 2020
The AAA Learning and Participation Programme is supported by the S. H. Ho Foundation Limited and C. K. and Kay Ho Foundation.