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A sculptor and a painter, Chan graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and the School of Art Institute of Chicago. Her works question the status and value of dumpster detritus and mundane objects, and explore integration of found objects with natural and industrial elements. She was the 2020 BMW Art Journey winner.
Mixed media sculpture
Imaginary Boundary is comprised of found concrete-coated foam packaging which contains a dried plant pod, pebbles, ceramic tiles, and an inexpensive domestic household mirror. Each element inside the sculpture directly draws on the ‘footprints’” left by the morning walkers along the Lung Fu Shan Hiking Trail. This community of walkers has gathered since the 1980s to socialise, exercise on pebbled reflexology paths, collect water from the gullies, drink tea, and grow Chinese herbs.
I was drawn to their DIY spirit, which to me is visually compelling and reflects a freewheeling spontaneity. The walkers place colourful household tiles at the base of their makeshift washing facilities and on top of multiple stone blocks along the paths, turning them it into dual-purpose resting stools. On the blocks, the words ‘good health’ (身体健康) are inscribed in Simplified Chinese, conveying a playful message. Mirrors hang from trees or close to mountain streams in order to create makeshift washing facilities.
A news article from 2007 in the South China Morning Post reported that one of the original boundary stones, which had been erected by the Hong Kong Government in 1903, went missing. This boundary stone at Magazine Gap Road was the seventh and last of the stones to mark the boundary of the City of Victoria, the former capital of Hong Kong during the British Colonial period; Victoria was one of the first urban settlements, expanding from Central to Kennedy Town, Sheung Wan, and Wan Chai. Ironically, once a key symbol of the early Hong Kong history and identity, none of the boundary stones today has legal protection against damage and demolition.
Imaginary Boundary is by no means intended to be a replica of this missing stone. Rather than driven by exact measurements and materials, I created it purely from my memory of the boundary stone at Hatton Road in Lung Fu Shan. Its surrounding green foliage and the otherwise invisible inscription of the number ‘7’ appears and disappears in the mirror image, depending on the angle from which it is viewed. This creates a direct relationship between one’s body, the sculpture, and the surroundings, and facilitates a higher awareness of seeing. Much like the fate of the missing stone, which was overlooked, the traces of the morning walkers present a blurry vision of contemporary Hong Kong’s relationship between the natural and artificial, past and present, public and private, and the internal and external hybrids of everyday life.