Dismantling the Scaffold
Tai Kwun Contemporary

(Click here for the exhibition guidebook and here for a few moments of curator Christina Li speaking on the exhibition.)

The inaugural exhibition Dismantling the Scaffold, presented by Spring Workshop at Tai Kwun Contemporary from June 9 to August 19, 2018, brings together works from local and international artists and collectives, a constellation of artworks which engage with the social and civil structures we collectively inhabit. 

The artistic positions in the exhibition aim to open up insights as well as questions that reimagine and examine the established conventions and norms conditioning how we navigate and give shape to our everyday lives. The two major keystones in the exhibition concept are the site’s history and collaboration: the unique background of the site of the former Central Police Station compound—as a police station, magistracy, and prison in the past—as well as the collaboration of two contemporary art organizations at a convergence in their timelines—the beginning of Tai Kwun Contemporary and the planned hibernation of Spring Workshop after its 5-year operation.

The “scaffold”—the main motif for the exhibition—is commonly understood as a temporary support structure deployed while a building is being constructed or repaired. In its lesser-known usage, a scaffold can also refer to a construction used in the past to stage public executions and punishments. The title Dismantling the Scaffold thus brings together these two definitions in order to draw attention to the site’s previous historical function before its current transformation, all the while looking forward to its new role as a permanent cultural institution and heritage site in Hong Kong.  

Organised under this central metaphor of the scaffold, artworks in the exhibition explore art’s potential to illuminate and unpack our relationship with society at large. They offer poignant reflections of the invisible and visible structures that constitute and organise our daily existence among our surroundings. Working across fictional and historical narratives, these artistic manifestations originate from daily encounters with the inner logic around built infrastructure, institutions of administration and order, and related issues around collaboration, historical amnesia, identity politics, and individual autonomy. As a whole, Dismantling the Scaffold proffers multiple interpretations to aspects of everyday structures that underpin our reality as human beings in contemporary civil society.

Christina Li
Curator, Dismantling the Scaffold

(Note: Visits to Tai Kwun and the exhibition are free. It is possible to book in advance via Tai Kwun Pass. If you register for a public program, that includes complete site access. A partial public program listing can be found here.)

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Note from Spring Workshop

Spring Workshop is honoured to present Tai Kwun Contemporary’s inaugural exhibition Dismantling the Scaffold. The show has grown out of an auspicious convergence of timing. As Spring Workshop begins a planned hiatus after five years of collaborating with non-profit organisations and artists around the world, Tai Kwun Contemporary engages in its first collaboration as a new cultural hub.

With a mission to support Hong Kong’s rapidly expanding art ecology over a five-year period, the non-profit initiative Spring Workshop (2012-2017) hosted a multitude of residencies, exhibitions and programs, working with artists and organisations here and abroad while experimenting with the ideas that underpin artist engagement, audience experience, and partnership.

What we offer here, as a parting gesture from Spring, is a snapshot of the strength inherent to collaboration, a picture of what blooms from years of dialogue, exchange and communal effort. Together with Tai Kwun Contemporary, we aim to present the power that art has to open conversations, to make voices heard, and to bring us closer to recognising our positions in the collective present.

As we marvel at the mysterious layers of the world, it can be helpful to partially dismantle them, and to then take a look at them from new angles and in a new light. This process creates a space that nurtures fresh tendrils of understanding. For this show, in close collaboration with Spring’s team and the participating artists, curator Christina Li has brought together works that reflect the value of this endeavour and the value of collaboration.

We would like to thank Tai Kwun Contemporary and the Jockey Club for the opportunity to present these artworks. We hope they provide you with glimmers of insight into the radiant diversity of perspectives in our shared world.

Mimi Brown

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Spring Workshop

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