“Welcome to Polluta”
7-27 August 2022
Solo exhibition at Varna City Art Gallery “Boris Georgiev”, Varna, Bulgaria
Invited guest artist of The Quarantine Film Festival
Curated by MUSTHAVEKEYS
Hong Kong Arts Development Council
Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation
Pure Art Foundation
The exhibition, first Hong Kong artist exhibiting in Varna, Bulgaria, featured new “Polluta” works of Fung’s ongoing lifelong project to build a futuristic world in year 2084, including more than 30 artists “portraits”, woodcut prints, video art and Chinese ink and acrylic paintings. “Polluta” is an ecotopian/dystopian artist colony made with air pollution in the imaginary country Contradictoria, one of the G5 countries in her fictional world.
This exhibition highlighted the international cultural exchange in a global art ecology. Fung, along with the curators and hosting film festival invited Hong Kong, European, and other international artists and filmmakers to “join Polluta” as artist residents, asking them to fill out an entry form and express their opinions on an artist’s role during social conflicts and art’s impact on gentrification. These two questions were timely reflections of the local history of the Quarantine Film Festival in Bulgaria. The body of 22 “Polluta Residents’ Portraits” features 22 artists’ portraits as animals, reflecting the subject’s own artistic practice. For instance, Oscar Chan Yik-long is an artist who always stands out with his flamboyant floral shirts and whose works often have mythical demon-like figures. Lonely Lau Siu-chung has a sophisticated signature use of the difficult colour purple and often depicts Hong Kong’s urban landscape in his works.
“Polluta Propaganda Woodcuts” (2018 –) is an ambitious project of 99 unique woodcut prints. Fung recently completed Phase 1 (42 images) and eight never-been-shown images were presented at “Welcome to Polluta!” The visual language is inspired by China’s New Woodcut Movement in the 1930- 40s and thus the works are all monochromatic woodcut prints that feature ridiculously optimistic text in simplified Chinese. The medium’s graphic and monochromatic physicality is ideal for spreading the fictional artist colony’s ecopolitical message. The works feature different aspects of Polluta such as flying elephants, resident pigs, fire-breaking dragons (to turn corpses into fertiliser) and sometimes the resident artists in the “Polluta Residents’ Portraits.”
The two video works "March to Polluta" and "The Polluta Cadenza" are excerpts from Fung’s 30-minute animated short film (2018 – ). "March to Polluta" is the quirky and ridiculous official Polluta anthem with the sunflower-framed characters (all anthropomorphic and inspired by the “Polluta Residents’ Portraits”) wiggling to the musical beat, only to be overtaken by the Polluta President and an anonymous hand spreading flying fat doves. "The Polluta Cadenza" is a dark desperate song in which select artist characters are discontent with the “perfect” ecotopia, decide to take the matter into their own hands and eventually ride off into a glowing sun on flying elephants. The moving images were all painstakingly hand- painted with traditional materials such as Japanese pigments on rice paper, scanned and manipulated digitally. It is stylistically more akin to cut-out animation in the mid 20th century than contemporary ones. The music is composed by emerging up-and-coming Indonesian composer Lauryn Vania Kurniawan.
"The exhibition was loved by all visitors and especially by the children from Dedal art school. The opportunity to see such an imaginative mixture of culture, different mediums and styles of artwork, yet all very well united in a single concept is rare. I believe our young artists have learned a thing or two about topic research, full use of exhibition space, creative experimentation and the important part each of these play in an artist’s work.
Michelle was also very open and sharing all her knowledge and experience by answering every question that came up. I think by far the most important thing our students saw was the example of how bold an artist should be, not everyone dares to create a whole world of their own and share it with others.
Dedal art school and The Quarantine film festival are already thinking of opportunities to invite Michelle Fung for future editions of the festival or to have her as a guest teacher or speaker. We are also very excited about any future partnerships we could have."
The Quarantine Film Festival, Varna, Bulgaria