The Venice Questionnaire #20: Lee Kit

By ArtReview

Lee Kit, Men look good here, with their suits on. It befits them, 2008–12, acrylic on fabric, sewing. Courtesy the artist and ShugoArts, Tokyo ‘I can’t help falling in love.’ 2012 Karaoke video, readymade objects. Image courtesy of the artist and Aike Dellarco Lee Kit, Scratching the table surface, 2006–12, acrylic on plywood, readymade objects, 300 postcards. Courtesy the artist and Vitamin Creative Space.

ArtReview sent a questionnaire to a selection of the artists exhibiting in various national pavilions of the Venice Biennale, the responses to which are being published daily in May, in the run up to the Biennale opening. Lee Kit's solo exhibition for Hong Kong is being held at the Castello 2126, Campo della Tana.

What can you tell us about your plans for Venice?

The exhibition is titled ‘You (you).’, and it will be all new commissions. Most of the work will be done on site in Venice. It will consist of video, sound, performance and readymade objects. It will follow the same trajectory of my work in the past few years, but it will also bring forth some new perspective in terms of scale, form and presentation. The best possible way to sum up the exhibition is probably about how absence is reflected in the construction of places, memories and time.

Are you approaching the show in a different way to how you would with a ‘normal’ exhibition?

It’s complicated planning an exhibition on the other side of the world, especially one which is unique in the way that Hong Kong’s space in Venice is. You can only plan so much. I’m really going to be using my time in the space during May to finalise the installation. My experience working with the curatorial team is also somewhat different this time. It’s really been an on-going collaboration with them from the start, in every aspect of the exhibition/project.

What does it mean to ‘represent’ your country? Do you find it an honour or problematic?

It is a complicated issue. To be honest, I think I’ve been approaching this just like any other artist would… to come up with an exhibition that I will be happy with. The concept of representation is not really part of my decision making process. I am of course a Hong Kong artist so why is there a need to shout about it? It’s almost like telling people I am a man.

What audience are you addressing with the work? The masses of artist peers, gallerists, curators and critics concentrated around the opening or the general public who come through over the following months?

I am interested in human experience and emotions, be it private, public, personal or collective. So, hopefully this show will reach and connect with audiences beyond the art professionals at the opening.

What are your earliest or best memories of the biennale?

I used to teach at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. I first went to the Biennale in 2007, as I was leading a group of 25 students with one of my colleagues. I remember, I had to do all the research about the city; how to get around, where all the pavilions and shows would be. We couldn’t afford to live in Venice so we had to travel into the city by bus every day. That was quite exhausting.

You’ll no doubt be very busy, but what else are you looking forward to seeing?

The Japanese Pavilion! Koki is a good friend of mine. I want to see how he will manage to deal with the catastrophic tragedy, the tsunami in Japan, with humanity. I also want to see pavilions from countries with less hype. One often finds some great gems that way.