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21 Sept 2017 / by Isabella Tam

‘Hong Kong Inter-Vivos Film Festival’ by Ho Sin Tung

A red cinema chair stands in front of a white wall. On the white wall is a round black and white illustration in a golden frame showing a woman with her head in her hands. Below the image, on the wall, is a clipboard holding a sheet of musical notes.

Black Eyed Dog is only work in Hong Kong Inter-Vivos Film Festival that brings the cinema-going experience into the physical space of the viewer. © M+, Hong Kong

Hong Kong Inter-Vivos Film Festival by Ho Sin Tung is in the M+ Collections, but what is it, who made it, and why is it in the collection? M+ Assistant Curator Isabella Tam explains.

Hong Kong Inter-Vivos Film Festival

This is an installation from 2012 by Hong Kong artist Ho Sin Tung. In the installation, thirty-five separate pieces, including imaginary films, paintings of imagined film stills, movie posters, and video trailers, come together to create a fictional film festival called Hong Kong Inter-Vivos Film Festival.

Pencil drawing on paper in shades of grey of two people standing and hugging on an outdoor staircase. One of them has their back turned, while the other one is staring blankly forward.

Private Viewing. Ho Sin Tung, 2012. Pencil on paper. M+, Hong Kong. © M+, Hong Kong

Pencil drawing on paper in shades of grey of a group of people standing next to a wall with a sign saying "Sold, 5 seconds for $". Two older men with black bars over their eyes look at us. One of them holds his finger up to his lips in a shushing motion.

Stolen Time For Sale. Ho Sin Tung, 2012. Pencil on paper. M+, Hong Kong. © M+, Hong Kong

Pencil drawing on paper in shades of grey of a naked person standing on a balcony. They are reaching up to touch the peacock perched in front of them.

Cluedid. Ho Sin Tung, 2012. Pencil on paper. M+, Hong Kong. © M+, Hong Kong

Pencil drawing on paper in shades of grey of a person's face, neck, and shoulders. They are staring straight ahead. Their face and neck are covered in large moths.

I Shall Come Forth As Gold. Ho Sin Tung, 2012. Pencil on paper. M+, Hong Kong. © M+, Hong Kong

Pencil drawing on paper in shades of grey depicting a ski slope. A ski lift on the far left goes up the mountain, while people go down the slope in the centre. On the right is a group of cottages.

Earth Lives. Ho Sin Tung, 2012. Pencil on paper. M+, Hong Kong. © M+, Hong Kong

Pencil drawing on paper in shades of grey of a graveyard. A woman holding a white flag is lying down with her head in her hands in front of a grave that reads "Heather A. Smith".

You are the Sucker of My Eyes. Ho Sin Tung, 2012. Pencil on paper. M+, Hong Kong. © M+, Hong Kong

Pencil drawing on paper in shades of grey of a man and a woman sitting with a group of people around a table filled with glasses and a champagne bottle. The man is kissing the woman's neck.

Pecus. Ho Sin Tung, 2012. Pencil on paper. M+, Hong Kong. © M+, Hong Kong

Pencil drawing on paper in shades of grey of four ballerinas doing a dance formation together in the corner of a dance studio.

Time is Something. Ho Sin Tung, 2012. Pencil on paper. M+, Hong Kong. © M+, Hong Kong

Ho has put the festival together as a director would, selecting works, making posters, putting together brochures, and arranging venues and seating, with the purpose of both paying homage to and satirising the film industry, as well as to fulfil her own desire to make films.

Two film posters side by side. The left poster, with a red, white and blue striped background and a black and white image of a man, reads, “A film by Jean-Pierre Fouard, Voyage au bout de la nuit”. The right poster, with two sepia-toned images of a man and woman sitting across from each other at a train, reads “Dvojí život Veroniky”

(Left) Poster for the imaginary film Voyage au bout de la nuit (‘Journey to the end of the night’), based on the 1932 novel by Louis-Ferdinand Céline. (Right) Poster for the imaginary film Dvojí život Veroniky (‘The Double Life of Veronique’), a title identical to a 1991 French-Polish-Norwegian drama film. © M+, Hong Kong

The films she has created for the festival exist only through posters, film stills, trailers, and plot descriptions. They are all based on a mishmash of references to actual films, directors, and genres. In this way, Ho pays homage to classic filmmakers, but also plays with the assumed authority of 'the classics' and film festival discourse.

Painting of two men spooning on a bed. One of them has a laurel wreath around his head.

A fictional film still from Caesar Must Live by fictional director Umberto Bosslini, which Ho describes as the second film in his ‘Dictator trilogy’. © M+, Hong Kong

The title of Ho’s imaginary film Caesar Must Live, for example, is similar to that of the 2012 film Caesar Must Die. The story, however, is completely different—Ho’s film plot follows the actual Julius Caesar as he falls into a time tunnel, arrives in a new millennium, and learns how to make a Caesar salad from a handsome chef. As the artist describes it, ‘Caesar has never been this cute.’

Pencil drawing on paper in shades of grey of a smiling person with a black bar over their eyes in front of a city background. Their head is splitting in half to reveal a giant fish.

A fictional film still from Conspirators of Displeasure by fictional director Frantnwl Husák. Conspirations of Displeasure. Ho Sin Tung, 2012. Pencil on paper. M+, Hong Kong. © M+, Hong Kong

The imaginary film Conspirators of Displeasure, on the other hand, is made out to be a rare find, with the artist describing how the film festival management crew flew to Prague and persuaded the city’s film archive to lend out their only version. It is part of the 'Fish Man' series—‘the longest Czech animation series ever made’, according to Ho—by fictional Czech director Frantnwl Husák, about a fish-man’s family life.

Ho has also created imaginary seating charts for the festival. Spaced, for example, depicts a seating map of the auditorium in the Hong Kong Space Museum. The artist researched a variety of cinema spaces in Hong Kong to create the seating maps, making them look like old-fashioned theatre layouts to contrast with contemporary styles of cinema seating, which feel more mass-produced and less glamorous.

Diagram of a seating map, with the words “Seating plan for Hong Kong Space Museum” at the top.

Spaced by Ho Sin Tung, showing a proposed seating arrangement for the film festival. © M+, Hong Kong

The central piece of the installation is Black Eyed Dog. This piece is the only one that brings the cinema-going experience into the viewer’s own space, using an actual cinema chair. The combination of the chair and the illustrations on the wall is intended to encapsulate the experience of being inside a cinema.

About the Artist

Ho Sin Tung is a young Hong Kong artist who graduated from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2008. She usually works with pencil, graphite, watercolour, and, occasionally, with stickers and rubber stamps, in combination with her own intensely personal experiences with found images. Her work has a tongue-in-cheek sensibility, reinterpreting urban life through researching and participating in it. She’s also a very prolific artist and has exhibited extensively both in Hong Kong and overseas.

A room has a red cinema chair in the right hand corner, four television sets set up on boxes in the left hand corner, and numerous illustrations of different sizes on the walls.

This view of the installation shows posters and film stills on the walls, television sets showing film trailers, and Black Eyed Dog in the corner. Photo: Courtesy of Ho Sin Tung

‘Inter-Vivos’ and the M+ Collections

Moving image is a very important part of Hong Kong visual culture, reflected in the popularity and endurance of the Hong Kong International Film Festival, a major cultural event held every year. Since Ho Sin Tung is a huge movie fan and a regular attendee at the HKIFF, her work has very interesting associations with this festival, and she’s using an alternative approach to participate in the film festival tradition through artistic expression.

Through this work, we also want to show the audience how the two traditional fields of visual art and moving image—two core disciplines in the M+ Collection—can connect and overlap.

This article was originally published on M+ Stories.

Isabella Tam is Associate Curator, Visual Art at M+.

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