“Being raised in Hong Kong, I felt a bit detached from my roots to the mainland,” says artist Hung Chingyan. “This grappling with identity is one of the most important elements of my creative process.”
As a second-generation immigrant from Fujian, Hung often felt different from her peers in Hong Kong. Unlike born-and-raised Hong Kongers, her earlier educational background was far more traditional and conservative. Social constructs such as filial piety and gender roles were deeply ingrained into her psyche. She felt estranged once she arrived in Hong Kong, where the education system was more influenced by the British. “I felt different from others, and it didn’t feel like I belonged in Hong Kong,” she says.
Only years later did she realize that these feelings of otherness were of no fault of her own and how pointless it was to dwell on these memories. Coming to terms with the absurdity of it all proved to be the perfect creative fodder. Her collage series The Song of a Young Nutter takes these realizations and stirs in an extra dollop of quirkiness to bring her childhood experiences into a visual form. This project uses Hung’s original photos, which include shots of keepsakes from her childhood, random objects that have caught her eye, and even herself. Together, this mishmash of disparate images has become her way of revisiting the experiences that have shaped who she is today.
于是，她决定用艺术创作的方式来表达自我感受，“用幽默的方式来表达我过去大人眼中的怪异”——《The Song of a Young Nutter》就得以诞生。这是一系列摄影拼贴作品，自画像、童年记忆中的物件和与过往的荒谬经历交互组合，以挖掘更深层的文化意义。
Piecing together different images to speak on specific topics in a cohesive way is always a challenge for Hung. “When I take photos, I like looking inwards,” she says. “I like to find inspiration at home, taking photos of objects I find laying around. It’s interesting to observe their little manmade scratches and examine the condition of the item. During the worst days of the pandemic, I was forced to look even closer within my limited surrounding for inspiration. This taught me that inspiration could be found anywhere.”
She eventually had the idea to include herself within her collages. This was a new creative stepping one, one that allowed for a deeper connection between her and the memory or subject she sought to explore.
In the collage, Dad Loves Eating Sticky Rice Dumplings Wrapped With Rocks, she looks back on a Dragon Boat Festival that she spent with her grandma. The night before the holiday, Hung was helping her grandma wrap zongzi when a mischievous idea struck—she thought it’d be a funny prank to stuff one with rocks and trick her dad into eating it. Grabbing pebbles from a potted plant, she plucked two into the zongzi she was wrapping. In this artwork, the zongzi floating downriver have all been split open, revealing Hung’s face within, grinning impishly. The flowing river represents the holiday season, a not-so-subtle nod to the dragon boat races held during the celebrations.
This blending of unlikely elements is one of the most prominent themes in her work—even the loosest of threads can be woven into something new. Hung isn’t interested in quieting her ideas, no matter how strange or nonsensical it may seem. She’s simply interested in bringing her imagination into the real world.
比如在《Dad Loves Eating Sticky Rice Dumplings Wrapped With Rocks》这张作品里，她是回忆起有一年的端午节前夕，在家里帮阿嬷一起包粽子，突然之间灵机一动，把两颗放在花盘里的石头包在其中两只体形较小的粽子内，想来捉弄下晚归的爸爸。于是在作品里，粽子对半切开展示的是她自己坏笑的表情，而粽子顺流而下的石绿色背景则隐喻着古老的端午节必备传统：河道划龙舟。
Color and shape are the most deliberated aspects of Hung’s art, and like the memories they’re based on, they’re often scaled to exaggerated proportions. “My parents wanted me to eat some fish, so they mixed it into my congee and I got a fishbone stuck in my throat,” she recalls. “They were terrified, and they took me to the clinic downstairs to get the bone out. From there onwards, I’ve been terrified of eating fish. It feels dangerous.”
This childhood fear is the basis of Fish is a Terrible Creature, a collage featuring fish popping out from a black-and-white sea surface, as if ready to ambush.
在洪澄欣的创作里，颜色和物件的形态是画面最重要的元素，在这个系列中，她刻意把这两个元素放大，尝试玩弄一些花样，以致画面的完整度可以提高。“我还记得小时候有一次我的家人把鱼肉拆在我晚饭的白粥里，混在一起喂我吃，我却不小心把一条很粗的鱼骨吃进口里并卡在喉咙中。家人当时很害怕，马上把我送到楼下的诊所请医生帮我把鱼骨拔出来，那次以后，我便对吃鱼产生一种恐惧感，觉得吃鱼是一种很危险的行为。”洪澄欣说道，这就是《Fish is a terrible creature》的来源，她配以阴沉沉的背景色，象征着陷阱的“鱼洞”，来传递自己自小对吃鱼的恐惧感。
Other sights and sounds that only exist in her memory also make appearances throughout the series. “Like the slide at my playground, which I played on every day after school,” she says. “Or the woods that I hung out in, where I could hear my neighbor sweeping the leaves.”
This visual reassembly of her childhood may seem nonsensical to the average viewer, but to Hong, they hold plenty of meaning. When revisiting the old diary entries she uses for inspiration, she often finds herself teary-eyed or roaring with laughter. Reconstructing these childhood memories has helped her reflect on her place in the world, whether it be within her family or within society at large. “I think families are an interesting topic, and it’s one near and dear to my heart,” she says. “My family are the people I’m closest to, yet it feels like there’s a lot I don’t know about them sometimes. My art is pretty self-deprecating in that way. I’m poking fun at how I just can’t quite fit in anywhere.”