site.btaVarna Hosts Visual Artist Michelle Fung's Exhibits
Michelle Fung’s "Welcome to Polluta!" exhibition opened at the Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery in the coastal city of Varna as part of an environmental project and will run until August 27.
Polluta was meant as a joke, a wry serious joke, the artist explains. This body of oil-based woodblock prints on cloud-dragon handmade paper features 99 unique propaganda prints - seven completed and ongoing. Each print features one aspect of this ecotopia. Polluta is perhaps Fung's solution to mind-boggling problems: pollution, artists’ struggle with money and integrity and world politics, knowing fully that it is not a viable solution, she says.
In 2084, the imaginary country Contradictoria has solved its pollution problem by Plan Polluta. Under this plan, air pollution is condensed into building bricks, which are used to build arcologies called Polluta, floating green vibrant artist colonies! Artists can live, work and show for free, forever! It sounds too good to be true. It is.
Fung told BTA she had opted to depict Contradictoria's residents as animals because this enables viewers to perceive the messages as a fairy tale more easily, without seeking any association with reality.
Woodblock prints, which have existed in China as an artistic medium for over a thousand years, underwent a change in the 1920s when printers began a grassroots movement seeking a conscious departure from the expensive ink reserved for the literati. This grassroots movement was endorsed by the state as early as 1935, when the state sponsored a multi-city traveling exhibition, The National Joint Woodcut Exhibition. Yet, the state’s enthusiastic usage of woodblock prints in the 1960s had an effect much like Instagram or Facebook posts on an organization’s official social media pages today, spreading official messages like wildfire.
Born in 1982 and living in Hong Kong, Michelle Kuen Suet Fung is a visual artist and art educator whose ongoing oeuvre revolves around a grand narrative of a dystopian world set in the year 2084. With bold imagination, subtle humour, and delicate pathos, she weaves acute observations of the early twenty-first century into an absurd, fantastical landscape populated with plastic-eating "humans", flying elephants and islands floating in the sky. Her works present a fictional geopolitical map of a bizarre future, impacted by changes in the Anthropocene.
Fung has exhibited internationally and has participated in artist residencies including Banff Centre, Canada; Island Institute, Alaska; and Art Omi, New York (the Cecily Brown Fellowship). Her works have received awards including 50 Best Books for Secondary Students, Hong Kong Professional Teacher’s Union, 2018; Young Writer’s Debut Competition, Hong Kong, 2017; the Grotto Award, Hong Kong Baptist University, 2015; and Award of Excellence, Fourth Greater China Illustration Awards, 2012 and 2016.