CX 889, 2022
OFFSITE: CHRISTOPHER K. HO CX 889
June 23 to October 16, 2022
Vancouver Art Gallery
'CX 889' takes us back to just before midnight Hong Kong Time, July 1, 1997, when Hong Kong passed from the control of the United Kingdom to that of the People’s Republic of China. Thus ended the era of Hong Kong being, in anthropologist Aihwa Ong’s words, “the capital of the Chinese diaspora.”
Following the Handover, Hong Kong was designated a Special Administration Region, subject to economic and administrative systems distinct from Mainland China, for a period of fifty years; this arrangement is popularly known as “one country, two systems.” 'CX 889' marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Handover and reflects on the halfway point to Hong Kong’s full integration into the People’s Republic of China.
'CX 889' restages familiar sights, hazy and half-remembered, from Hong Kong’s beloved Kai Tak Airport, which closed a year after the Handover. The title refers to Cathay Pacific’s recently discontinued flight from New York City to Hong Kong, with a layover at Vancouver International Airport. Revisiting these ends of eras, CX 889 asks: What is Hong Kong Time, or perhaps better said, what was Hong Kong Time? And, given its allegory of international air travel, the installation also ponders: Where now is Hong Kong Time?
Ho explores the affects of diaspora, with special attention to the wave of Hong Kong-to-Vancouver immigration between 1989 and 1997. The installation evokes the disorienting but warm reactivation of familiar sights, sounds and scents after a trans-Pacific flight. This unwakefulness mirrors a transition between states signalled by the installation’s central motif: the iconic double ramps at Kai Tak’s arrivals hall, where Hong Kong residents once reunited with their loved ones.
In present-day Vancouver, “Hong Kong” is a loaded term. It ignites strong feelings along cultural, regional, and generational lines. As 'CX 889' transports us back to Kai Tak, it also engages our memories of Vancouver in the 1990s, when the wave of immigration from Hong Kong changed the city and its surrounding municipalities beyond recognition.
Guest Curator: Godfre Leung
Diana Freundl, Interim Chief Curator/Associate Director
Curatorial Assistant: Julie Martin
Artist’s Studio Manager: Kalle Wadzinski
Installation Fabrication and Production: Abaton Projects Ltd. and Duggal Visual Solutions
OFFSITE: CHRISTOPHER K. HO is organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery on behalf of the City of Vancouver Public Art Program. Thanks to Willem Molesworth and Ingrid Chu for the opportunity to explore 'CX 889'’s themes at its predecessor show, 'CX 888,' at de Sarthe Gallery in 2018. (Hera Chan, Nick Yu, and Elliat Albrecht were all in Hong Kong then, and key interlocutors.) Neil Zhang re-exhibited 'CX 888' at UCCA Beijing, giving it room to evolve, and Keith Wallace and Zheng Shengtian were kind enough to publish an interview between Godfre Leung and me in YISHU. Last but not least, thanks to the Alex Brown Foundation for the residency prior to the opening, and to Kalle Wadzinski, studio manager extraordinaire. Photo credits: Joe Kramm.