Audemars Piguet Contemporary is delighted to announce that Hong Kong-based multidisciplinary artist Phoebe Hui has been selected to realise the fifth Audemars Piguet Art Commission, in collaboration with Hong Kong-based independent curator Ying Kwok, who notably curated the Hong Kong Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017. The large-scale installation titled The Moon is Leaving Us is derived from historical and contemporary observations of the Moon and highlights the critical role that visual representation plays in science and in our understanding of the Universe. It will be unveiled at Tai Kwun, Centre for Heritage and Arts, in Hong Kong on 23 April 2021 and will run for four weeks, remaining on view through Art Basel Hong Kong (scheduled 19-23 May 2021). It marks the first Audemars Piguet Art Commission to be shown in Asia.
From left to right: Portrait of Phoebe Hui in her studio, Ying Kwok and Phoebe Hui in the artist’s Hong Kong studio, studies for The Moon is Leaving Us, all images courtesy of the artist and Audemars Piguet.
Both a researcher and a maker, Phoebe Hui is known for her thought-provoking artworks that combine elaborate subject matter, intricate artistry and traditional craftsmanship. Hui’s practice aims to deconstruct, decipher and visualise scientific inventions, innovations and technologies, revealing their concealed beauty and enabling her audience to better understand their complexity. Inspired by her everyday life and often imbued with humour, Hui’s artistic language emphasises the inextricable links between artistic representation, science and technology.
The Moon is Leaving Us will poetically interpret the scientific fact that the Moon is slowly migrating away from the Earth and raise questions about nature and the ways in which humanity sees it. The artwork will provide a platform for visitors to investigate both cosmic and innate forces—connecting the personal and the planetary whilst encouraging us to step away from our limited understanding of the Universe and to embrace new perspectives through contemporary art.
For Hui, the Moon symbolises togetherness and simultaneously amplifies physical disconnection, a theory that takes on a heightened meaning today. Her interest in the Moon dates back to her childhood when she discovered Su Dongpo’s legendary poem, Prelude to Water Melody. The poem sees its protagonist gazing at the Moon and thinking of his brother, from whom he is separated. This imagery stayed with Hui who was used to spending many years away from her friends and family due to her studies abroad. She became attached to the Moon and the idea that one can feel near those they love when they observe the celestial body.
The artist’s interest in the Moon was re-ignited when in 2019 she visited the remote Vallée de Joux, home of Audemars Piguet, where she found herself on a dark moonlit road one evening. The way that the Moon shines in this part of the world and often acts as the only source of nocturnal light stood in stark contrast to her everyday experience in the shimmering metropolis of Hong Kong—and cemented the subject-matter for the fifth Audemars Piguet Art Commission.
As part of her research, Hui interviewed a former astronaut who shared with the artist how we only ever see part of the Moon from Earth despite the many scientific advances we have made in the past centuries. Hui also learned how representations of the Moon are subjective and can depend on the instruments themselves, on the choice of data or also on a scientist’s personal preference. This idea fascinated the artist who interrogates in this new work the mutability of the world: what we deem as fact when it comes to nature vs. the invisible world we are unable to see.
The Audemars Piguet Art Commission is a competition occurring every two years under the auspices of Audemars Piguet Contemporary, a division within the Swiss Haute Horlogerie Manufacture. With each Art Commission, an artist—not yet internationally recognised—is selected with the guidance of a renowned independent curator to develop a large-scale artwork amplifying their practice at a scale that is a “first” in their career. Each selected artist is given the opportunity to work with the independent curator—an expert in their region—as well as the Audemars Piguet Contemporary team, who accompanies and supports the duo from the inception of their study, to the development and exhibition of the artwork.
“This commission is an artist’s dream and has taken my practice to a new level. The support provided by Audemars Piguet Contemporary has encouraged me to reflect on the fundamentals of my practice and given me the opportunity to interact beyond my network. Meeting engineers and scientists brought fresh new perspectives to the project. Without this insight, I could never have made this work.” – Phoebe Hui, Contemporary Artist
“Phoebe’s work artistically reinterprets highly technical scientific research into tangible and relatable experiences. She presents installations with a humanistic approach that allows audiences from various backgrounds to connect to complicated scientific ideas. Audemars Piguet Contemporary’s support has enabled Phoebe’s work to progress in meaningful ways. The programme encourages the artist to take risks and be ambitious, knowing that she would be supported with the much needed resources and expertise to push the artist’s work to a whole new level.” – Ying Kwok, Independent Curator
“Artists allow us to see things differently and encourage us to question what we know. This has certainly been the case with Phoebe. Her creativity and extensive knowledge about the world around us has been enlightening to observe and we are excited to have her join the global community of creators that we are so proud to support.” – Audrey Teichmann, Art Curator, Audemars Piguet Contemporary
About Phoebe Hui
Phoebe Hui is an interdisciplinary artist and researcher primarily working in the relationship between language, sound and technology. Her recent projects increasingly rely on interdisciplinary ideas drawn from the philosophy of science, system aesthetics and the concept of indeterminacy. Hui received her MFA at UCLA Design Media Art, Los Angeles, MA in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London, and her BA in Creative Media from City University of Hong Kong. She is the recipient of a number of grants and awards, including HKETO Yale-China Art Fellowship, Hong Kong Art Development Council Young Artist Award (Media Art), Asian Cultural Council Altius Fellowship, Bloomberg Emerging Artist Award, Asian Cultural Council United States-Japan Arts Program Research Fellowship, Hong Kong Art Development Council Art Scholarship, Hong Kong Design Association Design Student Scholarship, among others. She has presented her research-based art practice and papers globally at venues including Ars Electronica, ISEA, the MIT Media Lab, Asian Contemporary Art Week, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the International Festival of Arts and Ideas. – www.earthlinginger.com
About Ying Kwok
Ying Kwok is an independent curator notable for her inventive curatorial approach: to centre on “the boundaries of collaboration” between curators, artists and the community. She worked as the curator of the Chinese Arts Centre in Manchester in the UK from 2006 to 2012. She has co-curated many international exhibitions, including Harmonious Society at Asia Triennial Manchester (2014), From Longing to Belonging with Łaźnia Centre for Contemporary Art, Poland (2014, 2016), No Cause for Alarm at La Mama Gallery, New York (2016), and the online festival Peer to Peer: UK/HK (2020). Awarded the Asia Cultural Council Fellowship in 2015, she carried out a five-month research on participatory and engagement projects in the US. To encourage critical thinking and effective discussion in Hong Kong, Kwok founded the Art Appraisal Club with a group of local art professionals. The club provides regular exhibition reviews and their articles are published in magazines and on various platforms for arts and culture. Kwok was also the curator of Hong Kong Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale, held in 2017.
About Tai Kwun
Tai Kwun is Hong Kong’s Centre for Heritage and Arts — a cultural destination for inspiration, stimulation and enjoyment. Tai Kwun invites all visitors on a journey of discovery that fuses across multiple genres of arts, heritage, culture and lifestyle in Hong Kong. Here, visitors will discover the rich heritage of the site through the thematic exhibitions and immersive public programmes that explore Hong Kong’s history and culture, alongside a multitude of vibrant and inclusive contemporary art presentations and performing arts offerings all year round. – www.taikwun.hk/en/