Hong Kong’s commercial art scene has experienced a renaissance of sorts, and now the indie art scene is catching up. FORWARD ASSEMBLY, a new “multidisciplinary, multimedia arts & culture platform” addresses exactly that. FORWARD ASSEMBLY aims to collate artists both emerging and established from around the world, promoting “the importance of intellectual properties and aesthetics”(Forward Assembly, 2016). It’s launch has been highly anticipated within art circles as an up and coming art collective; forming links between different cultures and communities.

FORWARD ASSEMBLY and exhibiting artists | Photography by FORWARD ASSEMBLY

The co-founders of FORWARD ASSEMBLY are no stranger to the art community. Yvette Tang is the founder and chairman of PYT OPERANDI; an arts event organiser and creative management company, founded in New York City and now relocated to Hong Kong. Prolific photographer, recognised director, and founder of his own design studio, Wing Shya has worked with a multitude of influencers, from Couture house Rodarte to director Wong Kar-Wai.

Butterfly Nostrils by Guan Feng Dong and Plants of God by Prodip Leung | Photography by FORWARD ASSEMBLY

Invited to the opening press preview of FORWARD ASSEMBLY’s first exhibition, the Hausie events team was enthralled by the diversity of artworks. Creatively titled: Safe For Work/ So F**king What, this double meaning theme invited the artists to experiment with duality and preconceptions. The exhibition was curated by Robin Peckham; arts writer and founder of the Society for Experimental Cultural Production and Saamlung Gallery.

“No rules, no limitations, no boundaries”

Forward Assembly, 2016

Toile and Udon by James Jean | Photography by FORWARD ASSEMBLY

SFW showcased the creations of 20 international artists, from US, UK, China, Hong Kong, and Australia. Their medium varies, a result of how many emerging artists nowadays “built their careers not on the circuit of galleries and art fairs, but rather in the worlds of design, fashion, photography, music—everywhere” (Robin Peckham, SFW, 2016). Despite their different roots, this conglomerate of creatives exist on a similar aesthetic plane.

F**k Safe 2 by Michael Lau | Photography by FORWARD ASSEMBLY

Arguably the most reputable in the exhibit is Ren Hang; Generation Y’s dominating photographer provocateur. Shedding insight into China’s underground youth culture awakening, through a raw and uncensored lens, Hang’s works have infamously been banned in many Chinese galleries. Regardless, Hang has presented his works worldwide and was invited by Ai Wei Wei to join the controversial “F**k Off 2” group exhibition in 2013.

UNTITLED 3 by Ren Hang | Photography by FORWARD ASSEMBLY

Hausie had the pleasure of speaking to Hang at the press preview. Intrigued to know, we asked the photographer whether he has been concerned about his safety, with the political environment that he operates in: “I have been arrested before but that’s not a big deal, I just told them I was doing my homework.” His nonchalance is a reflection of his dedication to his work. Hang studies the human form, and views it as such rather than erotica. Commenting on if he would avoid photographing in China, he stated; “I will take photos wherever I want. Wherever I go there will be cops after me so it doesn’t matter”. For some artists, their work is a medium to express their political views, and feel it’s in their social responsibility to use their platform wisely. But for Hang, his work is for himself; a fitting perspective for the essence of Safe For Work/ So F**king What.

UNTITLED Series by Ren Hang | Photography by Hausie

“I don’t have any responsibility, why should I? I am only doing what I like to do, if one day I don’t like what I am doing anymore, I will do something else.”

Ren Hang, 2016.

With special thanks to Ren Hang for his personal comments, and Jan Pang for her hospitality.  Many thanks to FORWARD ASSEMBLY for Press materials.

Interview conducted by Karen Tam

Written by Sonia Wan

Edited by Christina Wright

“References”

SCMP (2016) Hong Kong Art Scene [Online] Available at http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/arts-culture/article/1521892/hong-kongs-art-scene-growing-better-all-time-and-art-basel[Accessed 12/06/16]

FORWARD ASSEMBLY (2016) About Us [Online] Available at https://www.forwardassembly.com/pages/about-us [Accessed 12/06/16]

Ren Hang (2016) Home [Online] Available at http://renhang.org/ [Accessed 12/06/16]

Art Radar Journal (2016) Ai We Wei Co Curates Shocking Exhibition [Online] Available at http://artradarjournal.com/2013/08/31/ai-weiwei-co-curates-shocking-exhibition-in-the-netherlands-picture-feast/ [Accessed 12/06/16]