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Shirley Tse: An Exercise in Negotiation
Shirley Tse: An Exercise in Negotiation
Video Transcript

(Original language: Cantonese)

SHIRLEY TSE: I imagine that some individuals may feel as though they have no connection to the things around them. Through this exhibition, I want the audience to be able to see that, a lot of the time, every individual has a relationship to the whole picture and that, in this sense, everyone is a stakeholder.

The juxtaposition of very different things is the main concept [of Negotiated Differences]. In the course of this juxtaposition, those things need to go through a process of negotiation to accommodate other components with different angles and weights; to achieve stability and to counter gravity.

The negotiation is not just between different components, but also between spaces and how bodies move through spaces. When you walk in, for example, you see an arch that I’ve blocked. The audience needs to negotiate their own way through this space, and when they realise they can’t go forward, they will find another way in to continue exploring the piece.

The Hong Kong in Venice exhibition has an indoor area and an outdoor area. The installation in the indoor area sprawls horizontally throughout the space, while the outdoor installation explores verticality.

In this installation, Playcourt, you can see a variety of interactions and negotiations between different elements. Playing badminton over these delicate sculptures would actually be surreal, even absurd imagery. When I was little, I loved playing badminton in empty public spaces with my older brother and sisters. For me, playing badminton on the streets of Hong Kong is an act of reclaiming the public domain. As a resident in the city, you can make use of public spaces for all kinds of activities. In this set of objects—half equipment, half figurative sculptures—the use of an amateur radio also becomes an example of reclaiming the public domain by echoing daily conversations in the exhibition area.

For many parts of the installations, I didn’t predetermine fixed configurations. More often than not, it was during installation, through the process of negotiation, that I could finally fix their forms. The pieces will always end up coming together differently at different venues.

I hope that when the audience walks into the site, they will realise, oh! There seems to be a game here. But how do you play it? What are its rules? I want to leave room for the audiences’ imaginations.

Through this exhibition, I want the audience to be able to see that . . . everyone is a stakeholder.

Shirley Tse

In 2019, Los Angeles-based Hong Kong artist Shirley Tse represented Hong Kong at the 58th Venice Biennale with the exhibition Shirley Tse: Stakeholders, Hong Kong in Venice. It was a culmination of Tse’s career-long interest in plasticity and in the possible interpretations of materials and things. From July 2020, Shirley Tse: Stakes and Holders presents a renewed, site-responsive configuration of the exhibition in Hong Kong.

M+ Magazine

In this video interview, filmed in Hong Kong and at the Venice Biennale in 2019, Tse discusses her two installations Negotiated Differences and Playcourt. She explores how they respond to the exhibition site and negotiate with its spaces, addressing the complex ways individuals relate to each other in contemporary society.

Video Credits

Produced by


Video Production

Simple Present Tense

M+ Curatorial Research

Olivia Chow, Maggie Yim

M+ Video Production

Chris Sullivan, Jaye Yau

M+ Text Editing

LW Lam, Ellen Oredsson, Amy Leung

This video was originally published on M+ Stories.

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