The exhibition, Hong Kong’s Collateral Event of the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, will open in Venice on 11 May 2019.

M+, Hong Kong’s new museum of visual culture in the West Kowloon Cultural District, and the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC) are pleased to announce the selection of Shirley Tse as the featured artist for Hong Kong’s participation in the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. The internationally recognised Hong Kong–born, Los Angeles–based artist will present a new, site-specific body of work in a solo exhibition curated by Christina Li, an independent curator based in Hong Kong and Amsterdam. The exhibition will be submitted as a Collateral Event to the 2019 edition of La Biennale di Venezia, one of the most important forums for contemporary art in the world, and will be held between 11 May and 24 November 2019. The professional and press preview will take place on 8–10 May 2019.

This marks the fourth collaboration between M+ and HKADC for Hong Kong’s participation in La Biennale di Venezia, following the solo presentations of Lee Kit in 2013, Tsang Kin-Wah in 2015, and Samson Young in 2017, all critically acclaimed and enthusiastically received by the public. As was the case with these three exhibitions, M+ and HKADC will ensure that Hong Kong audiences have the opportunity to see the exhibition of Shirley Tse’s work in a new, locally adapted exhibition following the close of the Venice presentation, in spring 2020 at the M+ Pavilion in the West Kowloon Cultural District. Following the precedent of the 2017 edition, in which Hong Kong–based independent curator Ying Kwok curated the exhibition with M+, the 2019 edition will be curated by Li, jointly selected by M+ and HKADC.

Suhanya Raffel, Executive Director of M+, emphasises the importance of the ongoing collaboration between M+ and HKADC for the growth of the international presence of Hong Kong artists and curators: ‘The close working relationship of M+ and HKADC has gone from strength to strength over the past three editions of La Biennale di Venezia, and I am delighted to see our collaboration develop further in this presentation of work by Shirley Tse. Together, M+ and HKADC continue to make important contributions to the global visibility and resonance of Hong Kong artists and curators, and deepen our commitment to the arts in Hong Kong. Moreover, I am particularly pleased with the selection of a female artist to represent Hong Kong in Venice in 2019.’

Winsome Chow, Chief Executive of HKADC, highlights the collaboration between M+ and HKADC in the coming edition of La Biennale di Venezia: ‘HKADC and M+ have built up a solid and trustworthy collaboration over the previous three editions with a committed mission to promoting the excellence of Hong Kong arts internationally. By pulling together our expertise and resources, we are pleased to collaborate with M+ again to participate in La Biennale di Venezia in 2019. We are confident that with homegrown curator Christina Li’s rich curatorial experiences, the presentation of Hong Kong international artist Shirley Tse’s site-specific works will bring a magnificent experience to the audiences.’

The selected artist Shirley Tse expresses her delight with the opportunity to represent Hong Kong in Venice: ‘The announcement couldn’t have come at a better time. I have been developing a new body of work, and La Biennale di Venezia is the most apt platform for it. It is a deep honour to represent Hong Kong, my hometown, and a place that shaped my formative years as an artist. Big thanks to Christina Li for visiting me in my Los Angeles studio on a rare rainy day, and for inviting me. I look forward to collaborating with the curatorial team headed by her to bring our vision to fruition.’

The exhibition marks the fourth collaboration between M+ and HKADC, and the second time a guest curator from Hong Kong is engaged to work with M+. Christina Li, Guest Curator for this edition, underscores the relevance of this collaboration: ‘It is a tremendous honour to be invited to curate Hong Kong’s presentation at La Biennale di Venezia. I’m excited to be able to curate, for the very first time for this platform, a solo exhibition of work by a female artist. I have long been following Shirley Tse’s intricate and daring sculptural practice, as well as her work as a dedicated art educator. This will be the perfect opportunity to showcase the geographical reach of Hong Kong contemporary art beyond the city’s borders to an international audience, and to re-introduce Tse’s work to the Hong Kong public.’

Doryun Chong, Deputy Director and Chief Curator of M+, is Consulting Curator of the exhibition: ‘We are immensely proud of the three successful solo exhibitions of Hong Kong artists in the last three editions of La Biennale di Venezia. In particular, the last, highly acclaimed exhibition in 2017, in which we engaged for the first time a guest curator, Ying Kwok, to work with the selected artist, Samson Young, convinced us that both M+ and our collaboration with HKADC have matured enough to support working with an external curator. Christina Li has amply distinguished herself with a series of intellectually engaging curatorial projects in recent years in Hong Kong and beyond, and she is the obvious choice for the 2019 edition. The choice of Shirley Tse, who is admired for her artistic practice as well as her longstanding educational commitment, signals a further growth in the Hong Kong contemporary art scene, which is already well recognised internationally.’

Shirley Tse’s exhibition curated by Christina Li promises to respond to the unique site condition of the venue of the Hong Kong exhibition, ideally situated in front of the entrance to the Arsenale, one of the two main sites of the international section of La Biennale di Venezia.

M+ and HKADC are planning ambitious pre-opening and post-opening public programmes in Hong Kong, in an effort to connect the selected artist’s and curator’s international experiences and perspectives with the quickly evolving Hong Kong contemporary art scene. 

Following the precedents of the previous exhibitions, M+ will form a curatorial team consisting of an assistant curator, a curatorial intern provided by HKADC on an eighteen-month-long internship, and a group of twelve exhibition and technical interns to help stage and facilitate the six-month-long exhibition on-site in Venice, offering unique professional opportunities to young talents in Hong Kong and continuing M+ and HKADC’s commitment to the growth of future leaders of Hong Kong’s art scene.


About Shirley Tse

Photograph courtesy of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority

For more than twenty years, Los Angeles–based artist Shirley Tse has dedicated her practice to visualising heterogeneity through sculpture, installation, photography, and text. From presenting differences on the same plane to integrating them into a whole through negotiation, her strategies are as various as putting competing aesthetics under the same roof, examining the semiotics of plastics, calling attention to the interstitial, expanding the language of movement, conflating scales, destabilising categories, using found objects as a suspension of subjectivity, and researching concurrent narratives.

Tse participated in the Education Abroad Program in 1990 at the University of California, Berkeley, while studying for a Bachelor of Arts degree at the Chinese University of Hong Kong Department of Fine Arts. She received a Master of Fine Arts degree from ArtCenter College of Design, in Pasadena, California, in 1996. Her work has been exhibited worldwide, including at the Pasadena Museum of California Art (2004, 2017); Osage, Hong Kong (2010, 2011); ARCOmadrid (2010); the inaugural exhibition at K11, Hong Kong (2009); Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge (2009); the Museum of Modern Fine Art, Minsk (2006); the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University (2005); Para Site, Hong Kong (2000, 2005); the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts (2003); the Art Gallery of Ontario (2002); the Bienal Ceará América, Fortaleza (2002); the Biennale of Sydney (2002); Capp Street Project, San Francisco (2002); the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2002); MoMA PS1 (2002); the New Museum (2002); Palazzo dell’Arengo, Rimini (2002); the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2001); TENT, Centrum Beeldende Kunst Rotterdam (2001); and Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, New Zealand (2000). Her work has been featured in numerous articles, catalogues, and publications, including Sculpture Today (2007) and Akademie X: Lessons in Art + Life (2015), both published by Phaidon. Tse was a recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 2009. She has been a member of the faculty at California Institute of the Arts since 2001, and has recently been named the Robert Fitzpatrick Chair in Art. She is represented by Shoshana Wayne Gallery in Santa Monica, California, where her most recent solo exhibition, Lift Me Up So I Can See Better, was held in 2016.

About Christina Li

Photograph by Michael CW Chiu

Christina Li is a curator working between Hong Kong and Amsterdam. She graduated from the University of Hong Kong with a degree in Fine Arts (Art History) and Comparative Literature, and completed De Appel Curatorial Programme in 2009. She was the Curator-at-Large at Spring Workshop, Hong Kong, where she served as the Director between 2015 and 2017. At Spring, she curated, among other projects, A Collective Present (2017), Wu Tsang: Duilian (2016), Wong Wai Yin: Without Trying (2016), Days push off into nights (2015), and Des hôtes: a foreigner, a human, an unexpected visitor (2015). Her most recent exhibition, Dismantling the Scaffold, is the inaugural exhibition at Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong, and is on view until 15 August 2018. With Heman Chong, she launched Stationary, a collection of short stories, and co-edited the upcoming volume with writer and artist Malak Helmy. 

Li previously worked as a curator at Para Site in Hong Kong from 2005 to 2008, and was the Assistant Curator of Making (Perfect) World: Harbour, Hong Kong, Alienated Cities and Dreams, Hong Kong’s participation in the 53rd International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, in 2009. Her other projects include The Goethe-Institut’s Pyongyang Reading Room: Between Object and Shadow (Goethe-Institut Amsterdam, 2013); A Map of Misreading (TENT, Centrum Beeldende Kunst Rotterdam, 2012); Spacecraft Icarus 13: Cinematic Narratives from Elsewhere (BAK, Utrecht, 2011); Prologue – Speculations on the Cultural Organisation of Civility (SKOR and various locations, Amsterdam, 2010); Not Yesterday, Not Tomorrow (Cable Factory, Helsinki, 2009); and Weak Signals, Wild Cards (De Appel, Amsterdam, 2009). As a writer, she has contributed to publications including ArtforumArt Review Asia, LEAP, ParkettSpike, and Yishu Journal of Contemporary Art.

About M+
M+ is a museum dedicated to collecting, exhibiting, and interpreting visual art, design and architecture, moving image, and Hong Kong visual culture of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District, we are building one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary visual culture in the world, with a bold ambition to establish ourselves as one of the world’s leading cultural institutions. Our aim is to create a new kind of museum that reflects our unique time and place, a museum that builds on Hong Kong’s historic balance of the local and the international to define a distinctive and innovative voice for Asia’s twenty-first century.

About the West Kowloon Cultural District
Located on Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, the West Kowloon Cultural District is one of the largest cultural projects in the world. Its vision is to create a vibrant new cultural quarter for Hong Kong. With a complex of theatres, performance spaces, and M+, the West Kowloon Cultural District will produce and host world-class exhibitions, performances, and cultural events, and will provide twenty-three hectares of public open space, including a two-kilometre waterfront promenade.

About the Hong Kong Arts Development Council
Established in 1995, the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC) is a statutory body set up by the Government to fund, support, and promote the broad development of the arts, including literary arts, performing arts, and visual arts, as well as film and media arts in Hong Kong. Aiming to foster a thriving arts environment and enhancing the quality of life of the public, HKADC is also committed to facilitating community-wide participation in the arts and arts education, encouraging arts criticism, raising the standard of arts administration, and strengthening the work on policy research.