solo exhibition "One Day in Polluta", Hong Kong Arts Centre, May-June 2023
Michelle Fung 馮捲雪
One afternoon dream in 2015 turned into a lifelong project to spin a fantastical futuristic world out of pigments, words and images. 2084 revolves around building a grand ecotopian/dystopian world in the corresponding year. There are five imaginary countries (G5, the Great Five Industrial Nations) in total: Contradictoria, Northlandia, Dreamland, the Aristocratic Union and the Republic of Strata. These five micro-narratives will eventually weave together a grand narrative of year 2084, portraying my imagined futuristic geopolitical world in a way that teases out the nuances in our understanding of the Anthropocene.
This grand narrative is presented and translates fluidly between media and among different bodies of works, autonomous yet often alluding to each other. Across all media, the highly-detailed figurative works are surreal, allegoric and anthropomorphic. The images are a tapestry of seemingly disconnected elements, i.e. industrial blueprints and Japanese koinobori (carp-shaped windsocks) or bacon and angel wings, now all in perfect harmony connected by a coherent visual language.
My works are heavily informed by dystopian literature, and I find myself in regular tête-à-tête with Swift, Orwell and Wilde. Other diverse influences include illustration, Chinese literati and gongbi painting, Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints, manga/anime, fairy tales, Chinese modern history, environmental studies and Inuit mythology.
My Canadian upbringing clashed uncomfortably with Hong Kong’s market-driven hype. I am especially interested in highlighting indigenous and children’s voices. The former grew from a touring artist residency in Alaska (2016) and the latter from my two-decade involvement in art education. My sharp satire of today’s geopolitical and environmental issues requires the viewer’s efforts to investigate beyond the disarming whimsical childlike imagination. Wordplay, absurd humour, speculative fiction, and anthropomorphic animals are my go-to weapon. Try saying no to flying elephants, chocolate-covered pens and rainbow-coloured dung and…wait for it…a mountain-sized ice-cream maker.
Each imaginary country will take about ten years of research and production, often overlapping with each other. I look forward to having a 2084 retrospective exhibition in 2084.