Shan Zhai Phenomenon Explored In Hack Space Exhibition In Hong Kong

A new group exhibition titled, HACK SPACE which includes the New Zealand artist Simon Denny together with a group of China-based artists is to launch at the K11 Art Foundation Pop-up Space in Hong Kong. HACK SPACE is a new iteration and expansion of Denny’s own exhibition, ‘Products for Organising’ which was on at the Galleries 25 November 2015 – 14 February 2016.

The exhibition takes at its core the theme of hacking space – the idea that place, territory and infrastructure can be radically adapted in unorthodox ways to solve problems. HACK SPACE sits adjacent to the phenomenon of Shan Zhai, a widespread term in China often associated with nearby “silicon valley of hardware” city Shenzhen. Originally used to refer to a bandit stronghold outside government control, it has today become shorthand for fake or pirated products, from mobile phones to digital cameras, among many other products. From New Year galas to medicine and movies, Chinese consumers encounter Shan Zhai in almost every aspect of their daily lives. The Shan Zhai phenomenon is no longer only restricted to low-cost fake products, it has become associated with how a certain type of Chinese company achieves success without following conventional wisdom and develops competitive advantage through innovative hacks.

Redefining notions of innovation, one of the leading values of today’s world, through an unconventional organisational, social and spatial arrangement, the hacker-like Shanzhai principle is an underlying link between the exhibited works in HACK SPACE. Drawing themes from Simon Denny’s exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries, which compared hacking culture and innovation in different contexts, the exhibition brings together practices that question, cheat, flip, redefine and short-cut notions of space, buildings and creative practices. 

Staged in K11 Art Foundation’s pop-up venue, a space previously used to show future building projects that continue to change the urban landscape around Hong Kong, HACK SPACE forms an alternative hacker narrative, weaving moments from the history of western hacker activity with artworks that rethink space through unconventional methodologies of making and thinking. The exhibition presents works by eleven artists entering into dialogue with the work of Simon Denny, who has designed the layout of the exhibition as a ‘skyline’ of sculptures, installations and video works. Many of the works will sit on pedestals that Denny has had refashioned from a real-estate display occupying the room before HACK SPACE. A physical open-sourcing turned sculptural framework, these “distributed” pedestals suggest the alternative networks redefining innovation in Hong Kong, Shenzhen and beyond.

Simon Denny (b. 1982 in Auckland, New Zealand) is an artist working with installation, sculpture and video. He studied at the Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland, New Zealand and at the Städelschule, Frankfurt. Selected solo exhibitions include MoMA PS1, New York (2015); Portikus, Frankfurt (2014); MuMOK, Vienna (2013); Kunstverein Munich, Munich (2013); and Aspen Art Museum, Aspen (2012). In 2012, Denny was awarded the Art Basel Statements Baloise Preis. Selected group shows include Lyon Biennale 2015; After Babel, Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2015); Europe, Europe, Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo (2014); Art Post-Internet, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2014); Speculations on Anonymous Materials, Fridericianum, Kassel (2013); Image into Sculpture, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2013); and Remote Control, ICA, London (2012). Denny represented New Zealand at the 56th Venice Biennale 2015 and was included in the central curated exhibition in 2013. He was included in the Lyon Biennale (2015), Montreal Biennale (2014), as well as the Sydney Biennale and the Brussels Biennale (both in 2008).

Group Exhibition: Simon Denny and aaajiao, Cao Fei, Tao Hui, Cui Jie, Firenze Lai, Zhai Liang, Li Liao, Hu Qingtai, Xu Qu, Liang Shuo and Guo Xi.

Curators: Hans Ulrich Obrist and Amira Gad

Venue: K11 Art Foundation Pop-up Space
G/F, Cosco Tower, 33 Wing Lok Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong 

Image: Simon Denny  ‘Products for Organising’ Serpentine Galleries 2015 Photo: P C Robinson © artlyst 2016

Related Posts

London Art Fair: Celebrating 30 years - 17-21 January 2017 - Book Now
Rainsongs, the new book by Sue Hubbard, out now
Claudio Crismani in concert - 25 January 2018, 6:30pm / St Stephen Walbrook
Open Source Salon with Hauser and Wirth - A new monthly discussion group
Advertise your next show on Artlyst from £200 per week