80/20 (2014)

Artist Statement 

80% of all marine waste is from the land. Only 20% is from the ocean.

80% of marine waste is plastic.

80% of the Great Pacific Gyre is plastic, and the Gyre weighs a total of 3.5 million tons.

80% of people will do nothing about it. Are you in the 20%?

This body of works is a marriage between two love affairs in the artist’s life—her passion for animals and her obsession to reduce the use of plastic.  It all began when she started carrying canvas shopping bags with her everywhere, bringing her Pyrex container to buy takeaway food, and drinking water only from her own water bottle on the go. When the ritual took her beyond the boundaries of a personal life, her research began to reveal the price of convenience, which has now become common knowledge.

Much of the plastic debris depicted in the drawings are household items we associate with pleasure and celebration, including soda rings, condoms and balloons. These drawings consist of multi-layered ink on rice paper, which play a visual trick on the viewer. What do you see? What do you want to see? In 5-10%, do you see a baby emperor penguin shrieking at a large bundle of cheerful multi-colour balloons? Or do you see the other monochromatic baby emperor penguin under the balloons, strangled to death by curling ribbons?

The works elicit the viewer to learn more about the price of our plastic consumption. For instance, the drawings Tōhoku, Japan, 2011 confront the viewer with a puzzle. Why are Japanese items depicted with Sockeye Salmon and Rainbow Trout, fish native to the North Pacific Ocean? The title is the first hint. The viewer further solves the mystery when he or she reads about how Japanese garbage traveled across the Pacific Ocean after the 2011 Tsunami.

Although Fung doesn’t see herself as an animal right activist, she raises questions about the effects of human behaviour towards animals. Engineers are problem-solvers; artists are question-raisers.  Her private contemplation is translated into collective contemplation in the gallery space.


Each work is based on a statistics or a historical incident. Click here for more information.

Images of Exhibition 80/20 at Art Projects Gallery, Hong Kong in November 2014.

Michelle Kuen Suet Fung 馮捲雪

Michelle Kuen Suet Fung is a visual artist and art educator whose ambitious ongoing oeuvre revolves around a grand narrative of a dystopian world set in the year 2084.