In the Show – 25th May

Last Friday, the Hong Kong Fringe Club invited about 50 Hong Kong artists, museum curators, art administrators, art students, and members of the press on a two-day trip to Guangzhou. It included visits to more than ten art spaces and venues around the city centre, and an artists’ village on the outskirts of the city. With the Asian Games just around the corner in November, Guangzhou is quickly developing grand cultural facilities such as the newly opened Guangdong Provincial Museum, as well as new office space and hotels, in its new central business district, the Pearl River New City. But there are concerns that while the city is developing the hardware, the public and the artists may not be there to fill it.

“I Love you Phillip Morris” is a mainstream Hollywood cautionary tale and romance that stars Jim Carrey and Ewan Macgregor as two men in love. With each other. Steven Russell begins as a perfect father, a churchgoing Christian, and a policeman, but decides to reveal his true gay nature. He discovers that it’s expensive to live in the way he’d like, so becomes a conman. Of course, he ends up in prison, where he meets the love of his life Phillip Morris. Gary Pollard tells us more.

The Music Is Free Foundation was set up by jingle writer Adrian Tsing and freelance music artist Gloria Tang with a philosophy that music should not be unaffordable for anyone who loves it.Their students can pay as little as one dollar a month for four instrumental or theory classes.Courses offered by the foundation include playing the saxophone, guitar, keyboard, or violin, and composing and music theory. Adrian, Gloria, and other musical friends who volunteer to help, are the teachers.

In our studio, pianist Ben van Tienen and singer Damien Bermingham appear to perform “Mr Cellophane” from “Chicago the Musical”, which is currently showing in Hong Kong

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In the Show – 18th May

Nepalese writer Ram Krishna Bantawa has lived in Hong Kong since 1997. He is known in his own country for his novels, lyrics, and poetry. His most recent novel, Shrill Mist, published in 2008, spans the period from Nepal’s first constitution in 1846 to the murder of King Birendra in 2001.Nepal has a 55% illiteracy rate. Many of the uneducated are women who have been treated unfairly for centuries. “Shrill Mist” focuses on the injustices, love and courage in the lives of two women. Bantawa says Hong Kong helped inspire him to write the book.

“The Private Lives of Pippa Lee” was initially a novel, and is now a film, by Rebecca Miller, daughter of playwright Arthur Miller. It’s the story of the fiftyish Pippa, who is married to the semi-retired publisher Herb. Her friends consider her, as they say, an enigma, and “the very icon of an artist’s wife”. Tired of both images, she wants to tell us about her past and perhaps break free from her present. The film stars Robin Wright Penn, Alan Arkin, and Keanu Reeves. With us in the studio is reviewer Gary Pollard.

“Little Snow White” was published in 1812 in “Children’s and Household Tales”, better known today as “Grimms’ Fairy Tales”, a collection of stories that had been handed down through generations. There have since been many interpretations and adaptations. Walt Disney’s 1937 “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” is a perennial favourite. Now the classic fairy tale has been reinvented as a new ballet. Choreographed by the company’s founder Angelin Preljocaj, Ballet Preljocaj’s “Snow White”, with costumes by Jean-Paul Gaultier, goes back to the origins, and presents a much more adult view of the tale. It was performed in Hong Kong last weekend.

In the Show – 11th May 2010

Ai Weiwei is one of China’s leading contemporary artists, an architect, and a blogger. He’s also widely known outside China for his political activism, fighting for the rights of the victims in the Sichuan earthquake in 2008. Ai is being watched by more than art lovers. His studio and house in Beijing are under regular surveillance, his bank account examined by state security officials, his blog blocked, and his emails hacked. Still, he manages to get onto the internet. He says he spends eight hours a day on the web. Last month Ai Weiwei was in Hong Kong to prepare his first exhibition here, a collaboration with American-Italian artist and architect, Vito Acconci. Starting this week, Hong Kong has a chance to see an exhibition by Ai Weiwei at the Para/Site art space.

In the first “Iron Man” movie we were told how Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey, lost his physical heart as he gained a spiritual heart. He also gained an Iron Man costume that turned him into the world’s greatest secret weapon. Well, at the end of that movie, the secret was out. Stark admitted he was Iron Man, and now in “Iron Man 2” he faces a new bunch of enemies. Reviewer Gary Pollard talks to us about the sequel.

Hong Kong’s first Turkish Film Festival is running at the Grand Cinema in Elements from this Thursday until next Monday.The ten feature films selected include Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “Three Monkeys” which won the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival. Faith Akin’s “The Edge of Heaven” has also won a number of international awards including some at Cannes and in Germany. The Turkish Consul in Hong Kong tells us more.

From Turkey we head to Denmark, and we’re going there in the company of one English playwright having fun with the work of probably the greatest English playwright of them all. From Thursday until Saturday, at the Sheung Wan Civic Centre Theatre, a group of talented young people from the Absolutely Fabulous Theatre Connection is performing Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead”.

What will we do if we manage to deplete all our natural habitats? Well we might have to remember them with the very materials we took away from them. That’s the idea behind “Memory of the Forest”, a group of animal sculptures made in a workshop led by local artist Kacey Wong.Kacey and a group of students collected wood that had been thrown out, and transformed it into a series of works, which you can see at the Central Star Ferry, Pier No. 8, until May 23rd.

In the Show – 4th May 2010

The now 87-year-old French photographer Marc Riboud started his career as a photographer after quitting his job as an engineer in Lyon in 1951. He moved to Paris in 1952 where he met the founders of Magnum photos, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa, and started his career as a freelance photographer.

His ongoing exhibition, “The Instinctive Moment”, is a retrospective of his career. The exhibition, which opened last Thursday, is part of the Le French May programme.  The works displayed in City Hall’s main exhibition gallery include photos taken in Europe, Africa and Asia. Many were taken during his visits to China.

The photographers of Magnum Photos, founded by Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa and Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and David Seymour, specialised in photo journalism. In the early days, the agency split the world into several areas, giving different photographers their own region to cover. Like Riboud, the great Cartier-Bresson also focused on China and Asia. They may have been photo journalists, but they were such masterful photographers that even more art-oriented photographers like Hong Kong’s own So Hing-keung continue to follow in their footsteps.

One of the great tragedies for humanity’s awareness of its history and the sum of all human knowledge up until then was the destruction of the library of Alexandria. Maybe not many filmmakers are interested in books and scrolls, but this pivotal event somehow has not been used as the background for a movie story before. “Agora” puts that right, and also introduces us to one of the great female thinkers of history, and some rather less pleasant fanatics. Reviewer Gary Pollard loved it.

“Fragments” at the 10 Chancery Lane Gallery brings under one roof the work of two artists, Hannah Bertram from Australia and Serge Clement from Canada. Hannah’s work cannot be collected, wrapped or delivered. It involves hours, if not days, painstakingly dusting the decorative patterns of an Oriental carpet on the floor. Serge tries to capture the illusive moments of time, with his camera.

Performing in our studio are the English soul band “Mamas Gun”. They are big in Japan and just beginning to get the attention of the English press, despite the fact they have only ever visited Japan once.