Will Kwan

Canaries (the Bank and the Treasury)

DIORAMA PROJECTS is pleased to announce the debut Hong Kong screening of Canaries (the Bank and the Treasury) by artist Will Kwan for DIORAMA PROJECTIONS.

Will Kwan is a Chinese-Canadian artist born in Hong Kong in 1978.  He received his MFA from Columbia University in 2004 and from 2004-2006 was a research fellow at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, the Netherlands.  His work has been exhibited at the 2010 Liverpool Biennial, the 2007 Montreal Biennale, the 2003 Venice Biennale, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center and Art in General in New York, the Duolun Museum of Modern Art and Zendai Museum of Modern Art in Shanghai, the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, the Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius, the Polish National Museum in Poznan, Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto in Biella, Italy, the Justina M.Barnicke Gallery and The Power Plant in Toronto, and The Western Front in Vancouver.  His work will be included in an upcoming exhibition at ZKM Museum of Contemporary Art in Karlsruhe, Germany entitled The Global Contemporary: Art Worlds after 1989.  He currently teaches at the University of Toronto.

Kwan’s practice is distinguished by its research and theory-based content, and his work is created with the intention of making, in the artist’s words, “a tangible contribution to the knowledge base about culture and society”.  Kwan will be present to introduce and discuss his work Canaries (the bank and the treasury), an ongoing project that began in 2007.  The project consists of video, photography, wall drawings and works on paper.  The Diorama Projections screening will consider the ongoing video component of the project. Focusing on the Norman Foster-designed HSBC Building in Central, Hong Kong, the project is an idiosyncratic and speculative research that attempts to link two disparate belief systems and cultural practices that have a presence in the city of Hong Kong – the banking industry and Taoist funerary rituals. The bank in the title refers to the Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation (now the financial services multi-national HSBC) an entity that was founded in 1865 several years after the Hong Kong was colonized in order assist British merchants engaged in regional trading of various commodities including opium.  The treasury refers to the Taoist concept of a spiritual “treasury” run by bureaucrats from which individuals obtains a loan at birth and must repay when they die in order to pass into the spirit realm. The bank and the treasury blur into one another in the context of Hong Kong through the shared language of transfers, debt, and currency or when Taoist practitioners burn paper effigy money at funerals emblazoned with the HSBC logo.  The video adopts a compositional strategy that combines numerous perspectives on a single subject, creating collages that mix locations, time, figures, structures and landscapes.  However, screening the work for the first time in Hong Kong will add a further contextual dimension to the work, requiring Hong Kong audiences to reconsider the presence of this financial leviathan in the city and its recent relocation of key personnel to Hong Kong as the world economy shifts towards Asia.

Canaries (the Bank and the Treasury)2007 – present.  58 min. 3 channel video

Will Kwan, Canaries (the Bank and the Treasury), 2007 - present.



Friday 20 May 2011, 6.30pm

2P Contemporary Art Gallery, Hong Kong