In the Show – 23rd June 2009

Like other businesses in a sluggish economy, commercial galleries are adapting to tougher times, often by reducing the number of exhibitions or extending exhibition periods. As people are spending more carefully, especially on non-necessities, it’s a good time for more affordable art, like what’s come to be known as “urban art” or street art. May Wong, a designer who has been based in the United States for ten years, recently returned to Hong Kong to start Apostrophe Gallery to promote street art.

In contrast to the fledgling Apostrophe Gallery, the Schoeni Gallery has been selling art since 1992. Now in her late twenties, Nicole Schoeni took the reins five years ago. The gallery has long focused on pioneering contemporary Chinese art in Hong Kong, but Nicole has taken it into some new areas. Launched last year, “Adapta” is a project dedicated to urban art. The first exhibition in this project was a solo exhibition by the British stencil graffiti artist, Banksy.

For dedicated followers of fashion, the name of Coco Chanel is almost legendary. Beginning her design career in an age of corsets, bustieres, frills and laces, she introduced simplicity and easy clothing that allowed women to move and breath more freely. Coco Chanel’s fashion philosophy does make an appearance in the movie “Coco Before Chanel”. But the film, as its title suggests, mostly concentrates on her formative years. But are her those years likely to mean much to the non fashionista? With us in the studio to discuss this is our very own non fashionista and movie reviewer Gary Pollard.

Also in our studio are the internationally renowned Hong Kong cellist Trey Lee and fellow musicians. They are here to perform for us, and to talk about the inaugural Hong Kong International Chamber Music Festival that’s being held from Thursday to Sunday this week.

To see a streaming video of the show, please click here.

In the Show: 17th June 2009

In Hong Kong this year, to mark World Refugee Day on June 20th, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has organised fund-raising concerts, a refugee run and a film festival to remind the public of the problems refugees face throughout the world.

Starting this Sunday and running for a week, the Refugee Film Festival features six films telling different stories of the plight of these millions of people. We talk to a representative of the UNHCR about the movies on show, and about their work.

In contrast to those movies, “Duplicity” is not aiming to be anything but entertaining. Directed and written by Tony Gilroy who previously wrote the screenplays for the Bourne trilogy and directed Michael Clayton, it’s a romantic comedy that harkens back to the screwball comedies of the thirties. It’s about two former rival spies who have now joined forces to make money in corporate spying. Or have they? In the fact that neither they nor we are entirely sure of the answer to that question lies much of the movie’s fun. Our reviewer Gary Pollard, who was a big admirer of “Michael Clayton” was a little disappointed by this one.

Yu Dan, a professor at China’s Beijing Normal University, is now a household name in mainland China. Her best-seller, “Confucius from the Heart: Ancient Wisdom for Today’s World” has sold more than 10 million copies.  Now it’s been translated and published in English. The foreign rights have been sold to 19 countries. But while it’s popular with the public, academics accuse her of presenting a watered-down, and just plain wrong, version of the sage’s wisdom.

In our studio tonight representatives of Concerto Da Camera tell us about their annual concert. Director, bassoonist and organiser Karen Yeung introduces violinist Wilson Chu, accordionist Ouyang Fang, and dancers Edith and Kamong of “Let’s Tango” to perform Carlos Gardel’s “Por Una Cabeza”.

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In the Show – 9th June 2009

Last week’s commemoration of the June 4th 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square gave rise to a number of art exhibitions and activities in Hong Kong. It also reignited discussion of the relationship between art and politics.

From the French Revolution, to Goya’s “Third of May”, to the propaganda art of Communist China, the relationship of art and politics has been sometimes complementary, sometimes antagonistic.

In his Nobel speech, “Art, Truth and Politics” the 2005 Nobel Laureate in Literature, British playwright Harold Pinter spoke of the need to “distinguish between the search for truth in art and the avoidance of truth in politics.” We talk to veteran members of the arts scene on how they see that relationship, particularly with respect to dealing with such incidents as the Tiananmen Square crackdown. Is art even relevant in the face of political atrocity?

In the mid-1960s cowboy series dominated American television screens. A producer called Gene Roddenberry came up with an idea that he billed to network chiefs as “Wagon Train” in outer space. Well, “Star Trek” was not exactly “Wagon Train” but it was a highly successful science fiction series about the lives of those aboard the Starship Enterprise who each week would “boldly go where no man had gone before”. Now filmmaker JJ Abrams has boldly gone back to the beginning of the “Star Trek” story. Reviewer Gary Pollard tells us more.

Performing in our studio tonight is the young French guitarist Thibault Cauvin. He’s trying to interpret the classical guitar in a way that will excite the interest of younger audiences. In tonight”s show he plays “Rocktypicovin” a piece written by his father Philippe Cauvin.

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To see a streaming video of the whole show, please click here.

In the Show – 2nd June 2009

Thursday marks the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. Not only did art have a role to play in unifying the protesters, that event, and the protests that led up to it, have had a significant effect on the work of many Chinese artists. Twenty years later, many are still trying to analyse, assess, and come to terms with it, through their art.

In 1984, in the first “Terminator” movie an android came from a machine-dominated future to murder the woman destined to give birth to John Connor a leader of the human resistance. He, or it, failed. In 1991, two androids came back in “Terminator 2”, one trying to protect the mother and son, the other trying to kill them. In “Terminator 3” a more feminine android was trying to kill a now twenty-year-old John Connor. After all those murder attempts John Connor did make it to adulthood. And in “Terminator Salvation”, set mostly in the future, he has a world of murderous machines to battle. In our studio to tell us more is reviewer Gary Pollard.

And we have a terrific musical performance from Korean singer Youn Soun Nah and Swedish guitarist Ulf Wakenius. And it’s a Tom Waits song, “Jockey Full of Bourbon”, no less. Youn was last in Hong Kong with the Youn Sun Nah Quintet about six years ago, and already impressed with her own original compositions and performances.

Here’s an excerpt from their performance.

To see a streaming video of the whole show, please click here.