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Shopping Wonderland
by Goethe-Gallery, Goethe-Institut Hongkong
Location: Goethe-Gallery, Goethe-Institut Hongkong
Date: 7 Mar - 2 Apr 2012

In our last exhibition „I love shopping“, the topic of consumerism was examined from a technological perspective and the way how networking and digitalization affects our everyday life was explored. In our upcoming exhibition “Shopping Wonderland”, which opens on March 7, we bring the study back to our everyday encounters - shopping malls and outdoor advertisements – or what we call here: the “consumerism icons”.

Presented by Goethe-Institut Hongkong, the exhibition “Shopping Wonderland” shows the fantasy of an illusionary consumption demand through the eyes of photographers Dustin Shum (Hong Kong) and Markus Leiste (Germany). In this joint exhibition, Shum and Leiste take us on a shopping odyssey through photographs of shopping malls in the Guangdong region and outdoor advertisements in the glamorous as well as the not-so-glamorous worlds of high fashion in Hong Kong. Encountering these consumerism icons, visitors of the exhibition are confronted with the notion of “dream or reality” in the realm of shopping worship. The exhibition will be shown from March 7 to April 2, 2012 at the Goethe-Gallery.

According to Dustin Shum, whose photos were taken in small towns in the Guangdong region, there is a self-contradiction between the existence of over-luxurious gigantic shopping malls and the relatively small social context in which they exist. The temples of consumption seen everywhere in these small towns are nothing more than mere iconic monuments for a non-exist worshiper. Shum finds this phenomenon a sign for the town leaders’ self-defined affluent status instead of a reflection of genuine demand from the people. He compares this phenomenon to the pitch of the black stone monument that appears in front of the collective gazes of the apes in Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”, an image that reminds him of “a grasp of killing techniques and the knowledge of enclosure and plundering”. The shopping malls, as in the black stone monument grasped firmly by the sub-human ape in Kubrick’s film, “magically masquerade into a RMB bank note lifted lightly in the two fingers of a Chinese capitalist”, according to Shum.

Markus Leiste, on the other hand, walks the streets in Hong Kong with light gear like, as he himself puts it, “a Flâneur with a camera”, waiting for what Henri Cartier-Bresson called “the decisive moment” to happen. To Leiste, who has spent some years living in the city, Hong Kong is the billboard capital of the world and the outdoor advertisements seem to him “flashier, more daring and sexually explicit than anywhere else”. Consumers are made believe that the sex appeal of models in the ads and on the billboards are transferable onto oneself. In this series taken between 2006 and 2011 in Hong Kong, Leiste tries to capture the wide variety of Hong Kong-style ads found not only on huge billboards of major fashion brands but also in the smaller, less glamorous locations on side streets and run-down areas of the city. A touch of humor and sometimes irony is found in his work.

A total of 24 photos from both photographers will be shown in various formats at the exhibition.

About the Artists

Dustin Shum graduated from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in 1994 with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Degree in Photographic Design. Having been a photojournalist for more than ten years, he now works as a freelance photographer. He has been awarded many honours for outstanding documentary photography over the years, including awards by the Newspaper Society of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association (2003, 2007) and Amnesty International. Solo exhibitions held include “Alias: Xianggang” (2003) ,“Photogenic Olympians” (2009) and “Blocks” (2011). Shum has published several catalogues including Live Alone a Life: People with Mental Illness (2007), and Themeless Parks: Photographs by Dustin Shum (2008). He also participated in many local and international joint exhibitions including “Imaging Hong Kong”(2008), Hong Kong Contemporary Art Biennial (2010), City Flâneur: Social Documentary Photography (2010), Pingyao International photography Festival (2008 & 2011), “Photography Now: China, Japan, Korea” (2009, organized by SFMoMA) , Savignano SI Fest (2010) and Asolo Art Film Festival (2011) in Italy . His works are collected by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Hong Kong Heritage Museum and private collectors.

Markus Leiste graduated with an M.A. from the Université de Sorbonne (Paris) and with an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Literature from the University of California. He lived and worked in France for three years and another 15 years in California before moving back to his native Germany in 2004. Since 2009, he is based in Hong Kong. As a Fine Art photographer, he has had various exhibitions throughout the U.S. and in Europe, among them at the Price Center Gallery of the University of California, San Diego, the Arts Center Berlin, and in Hackesche Höfe (Berlin). His most recent show was a joint-exhibition with the renowned German painter Markus Lüpertz and the legendary American Pop-artist John Baldessari in New York’s Soho district. His works have been shown in galleries in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Stuttgart, Cologne, Zurich, London, Paris, and New York City. As a writer, he has completed several screenplays and theatre pieces, as well as a novel and various film concepts for TV. From 2009 to 2011, he was the author of an Internet blog on life in Hong Kong for the online edition of the German magazine stern.

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