Arguably the most prolific performance artist in Hong Kong, Frog King Kwok (Kwok Mang Ho) in his ubiquitous artistic persona ‘Frog King’, blurs the boundary between everyday life and art, a practice of a perpetual nature, which the artist describes as ‘no beginning and no ending’. The advent of the information age made Kwok realise that a massive amount of photographs and news coverage of his performances as well as his early site-specific, process-based installations have been accumulating and circulating on the Internet. The information and images exist in a way that defies chronology; photographs from The Plastic Bag Project (1978) are as prominent on Google as a picture taken the month before at a gallery opening. It is fascinating for an artist who is approaching seventy to witness almost five decades of his artistic career collapsing into a single plane. The new installation titled Time, created at Connecting Space for Mobile M+: Live Art, is the artist’s response to the phenomenon.

In this installation, a fishing net hanging from the ceiling captures news clippings like an Internet search engine. The random nature of these search results is what the artist describes as ‘chance as material’. Printed on transparencies, these news clippings can be viewed from either the front or the back depending on which direction the viewer is travelling. Kwok calls ‘time as material’, and the non-linear, simultaneously liberated and confounding experience of temporality in the work allows viewers to shape their own narratives of the artist’s long career. Though referring to the very early stage of his artistic practice, this new installation still carries the signature participatory nature of Kwok’s work wherein he dresses unsuspecting viewers in his ‘Froggy’ glasses, and poses with them for seemingly endless photographs. 

Frog King Kwok (Hong Kong, born 1947)

Frog King Kwok (aka Frog King) is one of Hong Kong’s earliest conceptual artists and a key figure in paving the way for performance art in Asia. Prior to forging new artistic ground within the Hong Kong art scene beginning in the late 1960s, Kwok studied with ink painting master Lui Shou-kwan. Whilst his peers were following the ink medium’s realist traditions, Kwok chose instead to translate ink into a new language by incorporating it into installations, conceptual works, and works he termed in Cantonese as happenings (hark bun lum). In the late 1970s, Kwok used found objects such as rotten eggs, fire, and plastic bags as materials to create sculptures and time-based happenings that took place in exhibition spaces such as the Hong Kong Art Centre and City Museum and Art Gallery. A firm believer in fully immersing himself—body, mind, and soul—into his artworks and the spaces around them, Kwok is a living embodiment of his practice. He works effortlessly across various disciplines, and has produced innumerable paintings, sculptures, installations, videos, graffiti, happenings, and spontaneous performances throughout his career. In 2011, he represented Hong Kong at the 54th Venice Biennale in an exhibition titled Frogtopia・Hongkornucopia.

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