The exhibition was based on Asia Art Archive’s research since 2014 into the personal archive of the late Hong Kong–based artist Ha Bik Chuen (1925–2009)
In 2016, when Raqs Media Collective first visited Ha’s studio in To Kwa Wan, they were struck by the excess of ready-mades that filled the space to the brim: boxes, draft objects, shelves, Tyvek coverings, haphazardly stacked together. This intimacy has stayed with them years after; ferments, warps, breathes. Here, Raqs introduces a composite creature as an embodiment of that feeling of awkward intimacy. An LED panel at the back of the creature emanates primary colour fields that are strewn across the thinking studio. The sofa is an awkward but inviting existence, its skin stitched with Tyvek. A table fan murmurs; we hear it if we sit and accept the creature’s embrace. This creature embodies the feeling of haphazard awkwardness, aliveness, dreaminess, and cosiness as remembered by Raqs.
— Michelle Wong
The words “life” and “time” both carry incomprehensible magnitudes. They conjure a richness of the sediment of billions of acts, as well as intensities of unknowability. In a sense, “life-time” gives us a scale to comprehend the otherwise unreachable extent of its constituent words. This is when biography interlaces history: it gives us routes to decipher, to make intelligible, the life of another and the imprint it leaves on collective soil.
Archives stage a streamlining of the messiness of living into patterns of understanding. They open materials to differing occupancies. The tense ruse that classifies the faintness and hardness of a life’s imprints also makes an archive a space that is unsettled and broken.
The mismatch——of the useful with the residual, the throwaway with the precious, the shelf with that which is secured and arranged, the drawers with their holdings, and of the dust which gathers marks and stains——haunts the archivist. The artist revels in this mismatch, and the resultant spectrum of voice, noise, contamination, value, failure, indecision, hesitation, and expression. It is in the indeterminate relay of materials and marks, cuts and collages, arrangements and un-ledgering, that a passage of time and life draws more life towards itself.
Lifetimes and archives are in wait of revolts of intimacy that disorder the time of the living.
— Raqs Media Collective