Hong Kong Exile is hot
This week offers a triple-view introduction to Hong Kong Exile, with opportunities to see three HKX works at three venues: Centre A (on now), the VAG’s FUSE (tonight), Club PuSh on Thursday, Feb. 5.
Collectively, the gallery work TRANSGRESSION/CANTOSPHERE) the installation/performance Lang(Lang)guage, and the theatre performance eatingthegame show the range of approaches HKX takes in investigating cultural and political trends in Vancouver, in Asia and the resonance between them. NINEEIGHT, showing at CanAsian Dance Festival in May, displays another dimension of HKX’s body of work.
Hong Kong Exile is an interdisciplinary company run by a trio of co-artistic directors: Milton Lim (theatre), Remy Siu (new music) and Natalie Tin Yin Gan (dance).
The Centre A show, in which HKX collaborated with linguist Zoe Lam and artist Howie Tsui, opened last week and continues through March 28. (TRANSGRESSION/CANTOSPHERE), draws a connection between the Chinese government’s effort to force Cantonese out of the public sector (radio, schools, bureaucracy), the Mandarinisation/ gentrification of Chinatown here in Vancouver, and the Occupy Central protests in Hong Kong last year.
Another homogenizing effect is at play in China due, partially, to the enormous cultural effect of pianist Lang Lang’s global success: traditional music is being marginalized as students are pushed to play to the tune of the Western canon. It’s participatory — you can play a keyboard where each key triggers a different video clip from the Lang Lang biography prior to a short performance by Natalie at FUSE.
If you can’t push through the FUSE crowd, you have another opportunity as Lang(Lang)guage, which will also be at Club PuSh before eatingthegame. Commissioned by Theatre Conspiracy and directed by Milton (our current artist-in-residence), written and performed by Conor Wylie, eatingthegame is a comic keynote speech on foreign investment in Vancouver real estate and our perceptions of what is “Asian” at a time when the forces of culture, business and immigration are blurring boundaries with increasing force. eatingthegame can also be seen in Victoria at Uno Fest [May 7 – 23].
Milton Lim is collaborating on the development of Foreign Radical with Theatre Conspiracy and will perform in the show April 16-25 at the Cultch. The next day he’s off to Toronto to perform in NINEEIGHT, choreographed by Natalie.
NINEEIGHT references the idiom "nine doesn't follow eight" and mo lei tau, a popular type of absurdist comedy that dominated Hong Kong cinema during the decade when sovereignty was handed over from the UK to China (1997]. HKX describes the piece as a reflection on personal fractures and the meaning of "motherland" at times of transition — political, social, geographical.” This is the second showing for NINEEIGHT at the CanAsian International Dance Festival, which happens this year at Harbourfront [April 29th - May 2nd].
I fully expect to see NINEEIGHT programmed again here in the Vancouver area in the coming year.
— Tim Carlson