At the Still Point of the Turning World
Group exhibition, Galerie Ora-Ora, Hong Kong, 4-20 Sep 2014
'At the still point of the turning world' is a phrase from the first quartet of T.S.Eliot's seminal poem Four Quartets. This presentation of works by Ray Chan, Gabriel Leung and Stephen Wong Chun Hei is a curatorial response to Eliot's text, particularly its rather paradoxical concept of 'the still point', and how these seemingly disparate works offer multiple manifestation of this singular notion.
Written amid Eliot's personal and public devastation during World War II, the poem at its core, is concerned with the tension between how we sentient beings could experience something of eternity's stability, despite living in the chronic instability and decay of time. Eliot's expression of 'at the still point of the turning world' intimates that even with the intense awareness of human impotence in the ceaseless motion of the world, we still seek, and could find, some relief from time's grinding necessities. The poem suggests 'the still point' ground in a "form" or "pattern" beyond human speech and time - particularly in love, 'unmoving', imbued with an overtly Christian theological resonance. Though Chan, Leung and Wong may share similar spiritual convictions as Eliot, this exhibition presents how the "still point" could be located in the physicality of their work and creative practice.
Parallel in spirit and differing in method, the three artists' works on the ground and upper floor of the gallery offer a materialisation, (re)enactment and depiction of intellectual, physical and spiritual means and journeys of searching for "the still point" - a constancy in meaning, a retreat or an oblique resolution in the face of instabilities or crisis of an ever changing world.
Gabriel Leung's installations - one consists of steadily spinning (at times teetering) tops and the other, a three-piece installation revolving around the fire drill and fireproof hood for children's use on National Disaster Prevention Day in Japan. Created in response to Japan's 311 disaster, they are reconstructions of ambiguities between the resigned state of uncertainty as well as defines in the face of imminent danger. Leung's projection of changing scenes of a vase filled with flowers continues his reflection on the drive for human advancement, tinged with the reality of its limits.
Just as the phrase 'at the still point of the turning world' and the poem exude tension between the fragment and the whole, between order and chaos, these works offer a certain orientation, if not, the possibility of epiphanic moments of eternity's "still point" in the midst of history's flux.
This exhibition is organised as part of "The Still Point" festival - a three weeks journey of talks, exhibitions and performances engaging art, faith and humanity in Hong Kong. (excerpt from the curatorial statement)
Artists: Ray CHAN, Gabriel LEUNG and Stephen WONG Chun Hei