Artist and composer Samson Young represents Hong Kong at the 57th Venice Biennale with the curator Ying Kwok and Doryun Chong as consulting curator on the project promoted by M+, West Kowloon Cultural District and Hong Kong Arts Development Council.
Young creates a new body of work that reframes the popularity of “charity singles” – purpose-made recordings for charitable causes, featuring super-group artists – as a historic “event” and a culturally transformative moment in time. Charity singles were the most widespread in the 1980s, and coincided with the rise of neoliberalism aspirations and the globalization of the popular music industry. However, questions were raised about their appropriateness when ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ was remade in 2014. A perceived strangeness in the setup left a mark on Young’s consciousness, setting him on a journey of rediscovery that informs this exhibition.
Young’s practice comprehends avant-garde compositional traditions of aleatoric music, musique concrète, and graphical notation. each project is a process of research the artist provides through a series of “sound sketches” and audio recordings. Through drawing, radio broadcast, performance and composition, Young reflects on topics such as war, and political frontiers, related to his main interest on conflict and how it interacts with identity. Young borrows music components of beat, rhythm, notational signs and musical symbols to enhance global conflicts that have affected our past and present.
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- We Are the World, as performed by the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions Choir, 2017 installation view. Courtesy: the artist. Photo: Simon Vogel