IN SESSION 5 - MAN Mei-to
Laundry Shop

IN SESSION 5 –

from April 27, 2016

IN SITU 
    May 6 ~ May 31, 2016

Laundry Shop | 洗衣店

 

ARTIST
 

MAN Mei-to is a visual artist in Hong Kong. Man received her BA (Fine Art) degree from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University in 2015, majoring in painting. Different media are used to construct her artworks, such as painting, photography, video, installation and mixed media.
 

Her artworks always relate the “body” and the “space”. Defining the separated “individual” is the core idea for the development of artworks. To her, “body” is like a machine, an object and a factory. It is a shell of a house and a container. We are all individuals who live under our own skin. When we touch the flesh on the skin, we touch the distance between him, her and it and us.

文美桃是一位視覺藝術家。2015年獲得皇家墨爾本理工大學及香港藝術學院藝術學士學位, 主修繪畫。她的作品混合多種媒體,包括繪畫、攝影、拍攝、裝置及混合媒介等。 作品以身體為創作題材。身體像一部機械、一件物件和一間工廠。是一間屋的外殼,也是一個容器。當身體作為物件時,住在皮膚裡的「我」, 可以於皮膚上觸碰肉體當中的距離,探討她與他﹑她﹑它﹑牠的關係。


Laundry Shop is a temporary laundry service point located in Shop A3, Sharp Street West, Causeway Bay, open from  6th May, 2016 (Fri) until 31st May, 2016 (Tue). Laundry Shop provides hand wash service with soapnut cleanser. The laundry will be delivered to a mountain somewhere for drying by sunlight. Self-pick up the laundry at Laundry Shop.

 


"When the mountain hangs the clothes"

 


The Laundry Worker has been imagining the possibilities of drying clothes in the city since 2011 by observing communities and spaces around the area she lived in.
 

Winter faded and spring set in, bringing humid weather. Time to wash and dry the thick winter clothes and tuck them away.
 

Public space in the community could not facilitate the drying of laundry, a basic necessity for everyone.
 

But on the mountain right next to her living area, people dried their laundry, planted their veggie, changed the water flow and made their road.
 

The interaction between this basic necessity and the environment activated the Laundry Worker’s imagination towards the space in and of the mountain.
 

Doing laundry is ordinary but intimate.
 

The one who handle your clothes needs washing them diligently, drying them warmly, folding them tidily and putting them back to the wardrobe silently, with patience and care.
 

This specialist of doing laundry was always somewhere around.
 

Through repeating laundry work, the Laundry Worker focuses on handling some basic necessities in a few strangers’ daily life.  This allows the Laundry Worker to imagine for the possibilities of freedom in the life of the city by staying in touch with water, sunshine, air and wind.

 

洗衣店 是一間位於銅鑼灣霎西街A3樓梯鋪。在2016年5月6日至 5月31日會化作為洗衣店,收集衣服清洗。收集的衣服會採用無患子洗衣液以人手清洗,然後在某個後山上晾曬。衣服晾乾後可以回洗衣店取回衣服。

 


洗衣者由2011年 – 《後山》的作品開始對晾曬衣服這事想像著。

 


《後山》 –  從洗衣者居住的社區開始觀察。
回南天,潮濕的天氣。把御寒衣物洗好、晾曬、風乾。
社區內公共空間的規劃沒有好好顧及晾曬衣服這基本需要,
而在社區邊的一個後山上,
居民在那裡晾曬衣服,種菜,山上引水,搭石引路。
人與自然之間有機的互動,開放了大家對於空間的想像。

洗衣服,曬衣服是件很貼心的事。
也是最習以為常的事,家裡總會有這一位專為衣服處理的一人。
這人總會把衣服洗好,晾曬好,摺疊好。放到衣服的原位。
可能你家裡沒有這人,也許拎去洗衣店交給一位洗衣專員去處理。
或許你自己就是這個洗衣員 . 晾曬員 . 摺衣員。


重覆的洗衣動作,洗衣員專注地處理某個眾數的生活基本。
在城市中保持與水、太陽、空氣、風的觸感,想像在城市居住的自由生活形態。


INTERPRETATION

 

The white light from LED light strip hidden in a box defines the tone of The Laundry Shop from the ground up – several piles of clean laundry undulates the white light, extending upward onto the white wall. White on white is a rare aesthetics in this part of Hong Kong. Not that it’s non-existent in the cityscape of Hong Kong, but the way it directs to blandness rather than the kind of blindness that advertising induces is rare. If lightboxes are tools with which details would be illuminated, what particular details is the Laundry Worker proposing to be in her trade?


Laundry Worker Man Mei-to has had a consistent interest in dwelling the city by deferring and defying its imperative to keep time, count time, and maximize the monetary value of time. In 2015, at a broken and unused highway near Hong Kong’s old Kai Tak Airport, she made House on the ground – thin layers of grid-shaped wax were laid on asphalt to picture a house brick by brick. After 26 days in the mid-summer heat, the wax completely melted. In an earlier work, He/She. Mum and Mao Lake (2013), she also engendered the active interaction between wax and its surroundings – this time indoors – by making a small, shallow puddle beneath a classroom chair and table. With salt and water, she manipulated the pace of melting. “The water looks like a slide show”, she says, and “the lake forms a vortex.” In the same year, she brought a pail-full of mud from Ping Che, to a zebra crossing in the middle of the city in Kwai Fong, spreading a thin layer of it onto the stripes. Bring the smell of field and garden back home made everyone crossing the street and stepping onto the mud complicit in bringing the smell of field and garden back home. It’s an act made for contagion. The act begins with transplanting, lives and decays by being picked up by a range of bodily rhythms, and complicates the way the city propels us to move on – what it is that is being moved on now?
 

Man’s interest in time passing is fully bound up with her imagination of nature and the traces of human bodies in and as nature, which began to show in her graduation work at the Hong Kong Art School. In the installation, a sketch of a landscape drawing took shape – she called the line of triangularly shaped objects of wax and embroidery hoops impregnated with wax and suspended in the air “islands”, “lakes”, and “hills”. Alternatively, instead of a figurative language, the installation could also be read as a juxtaposition of the softness of wax and the sharpness of fishing lines, safety pins, and needles, hence an act of attending to the tension between the blandness of serenity and the eccentricity of punctuating it. An aluminum pan also holds a coagulation of wax, revealing its recent history of roaming and rolling and finally stopping at the edges of a small cleft in the middle, muffing the pan’s self-resonance. As a whole, the installation is an expression comparable to Eva Hesse’s “fluid contours” (http://www.theartstory.org/artist-hesse-eva.htm). At Shop A3, Sharp Street West, The Laundry Shop brings the fluidity of her materials and practice into the social realm. At the time of this writing, Man Mei-to has been huddling up in Shop A3 for 20 hours – 5 hours in each of the 4 days. The rest of the week, she walked and sojourned to the edge of the concrete jungle to wash the laundry and have it dried in the sun and wind. The clean laundry would then be brought back to The Laundry Shop for collection.
 

The idea of hanging was originally less narrowly directed to one particular object, hence less instrumental. In her earlier work When the mountain hangs the clothes, she hung pieces of cloth in beige, light green, pale yellow on ropes and had them suspended from the top of cement-treated slopes in Tseng Kwan O to the ground. It reminds me of Iranian artist Mahroo Movahedi’s Flying Colors, an “abstract collection” of colors or their perception that she experienced while crossing the landscapes of Iran and Switzerland. The result for Movahedi was an installation on a white wall in a gallery. At The Laundry Shop, Man’s palette is white, but different kinds of white. The wall, for instance, is in a white paint that carries a hue of pink the artist deliberately chose. A lot is different in Man and Movahedi’s works but both artists are trading colors through personal and social trajectories in ordinary life,

awakening our imagination with passing scenes.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When in situ, Man received comments she hadn’t expected. “Is this really free?” “Show me your hand to prove that you work with your hands like a worker.” (That is, could this be a trick or a scam?) The comments reveal the thin line between critical reception and cynicism. On the one hand, the comments show that the under-acknowledgement of the contribution of physical labor to all that is in public space has not stopped city dwellers from remembering it; on the other hand, the gift that cannot be valued with a price tag is not to be trusted. In between, the ecology of trading meanings and human touch tries to survive. This ambivalence presents the challenge the artist may be proposing with the work – when the daily laundry is inspected like a specimen, exaggeratedly calling for our attention to check if nature has touched it and given it life, it reveals the structural kind of purification ongoing in the city – the process of life-giving by the sun and wind made irrelevant to human life.
 

Man Mei-to is frugal with words. But she communicates a robust energy, a readiness in making something from the start of our encounter. She is ready to be retreating into art and letting it envelop her experience of the city. One needs indeed to be ready for the encroaching power of the city, but there is always already also the resistance that the penetrating power of art can provide for – without permanence, without flaunting, it sturdily stands.
                     
 

Yeung Yang
May 2016