Critic’s choice 


(originally published on Saatchi Online Magazine in 2009)



      Adrian Wong (1980) worked with bamboo, incense and Taoist exorcists to create a cleansing ritual as part of a performance called Bless Ye All Who Enter Here (2007) (pictured).  After having experienced a wave of misfortunes, in which nearly all his possessions got stolen and his health was badly damaged, the artist, who was originally trained as a research psychologist, decided a cleansing ritual was needed to get back in tune with the positive powers of the universe.

        Part of the performance was a tea ceremony. Tea, whether green or black, is a crucial facet of human culture and Britain would plainly feel naked without the drink. In China and Japan, tea occupies a ritual and mystic position; it is used by Geishas in intricate ceremonies of seduction and is cooked for hours by the Chinese for its healing qualities. Wong, exploring all traditional aspects of the cleansing ritual, could not have gone without his tea.

        Wong’s earlier performance and sculptural installation A Fear This Is (2007) explored the workings of tea in a different context. With this work, Wong addressed the human emotion of experiencing fear and tried to deconstruct phobias. Part of the artwork is a tea fountain, Fountain: Organic Matter Breaks Down at 100 º Celsius (2007). The fountain has both a practical and a ritual function, symbolising the relationship between physical cleanliness and moral purity.  It shows the human need, which is also pivotal in most religions, to be both morally and physically clean.

        The use of tea in this fountain, which is compiled from an inflatable pool and plates and cups from street restaurants, is slightly peculiar but intriguing all the same. Wong uses Oolong tea, which has exceptional cleansing qualities, to suit the process of rinsing the body outside and within. The combination of the healing herbal liquid and the mishmash of random objects from Hong Kong’s street life addresses anxieties over hygiene and public health.  

        Wong’s work, which is both culturally critical and religiously aware, illustrates the artist’s strong connection to contemporary city life, and his interest in using ancient rituals to accentuate the dark corners and eccentricities of metropolitan existence.




RESEARCH CAPSULE
NEO-METABOLISM 


Utopian Thinking (in the dark times).



ESSAY
MU Hybrid Art House


To live and die with soil.



ESSAY
ZORA ZINE


Planetary infrastructure as resistance.



ESSAY
KUNSTLICHT #42: SPELLBOUND


Grove is in the heart.
Human and nonhuman agency in post-anthropocenic ritual.




CONFERENCE PAPER
SOLAR IMAGINARIES @UPENN


On solar energy, and power.




SHORT FICTION
NEO-METABOLISM


All the Qings spoke.




FREE THOUGHTS
ON SUSTAINABILITY


Enough clay.




SHORT FICTION
NEO-METABOLISM


Since the plastic purge.




INTERVIEW
THE EARTH ISSUE


“The food-chain is governed by considerations of efficiency, not ethics and sustainability.” 




ART REVIEW 
DAILY SERVING


Loving Memory. 




ART REVIEW
ArtSlant 


The Importance of Being Ugly.




ART REVIEW
DAILY SERVING


“A strange mixture of guilt and pride can be sensed in the hunters’ eyes.”




ART REVIEW
SAATCHI ONLINE


The fountain has both a practical and a ritual function, symbolising the relationship between physical cleanliness and moral purity.” 


© 2023 N-M