Wong Kit Yi — Bio Lab and Animation at Art Basel Hong Kong

Wong Kit Yi presented an exhibition, Magic Wands, Batons and DNA Splicers in the a.m. space booth at the Art Basel in Hong Kong from 27-31 March 2018. For the booth, MetaObjects installed a bio lab in collaboration with Dr. Yun Lam of City University Chemistry Department and ArtSciMedia. The project involved taking DNA samples of visitors using oral swabs and running a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to magnify the sample and using Agarose Gel Electrophoresis to separate the maternal DNA. Visitors to the booth can leave their sample after signing a consent form and can then pick up their DNA at the booth at the end of the day after running the process, which takes about 2 hours. MetaObjects organised a team of helpers from the School of Creative Media to assist with the bio lab throughout the fair. In addition to the bio lab, MetaObjects also produced the iridescent subtitling effect for Wong's video, Uploading Consciousness To A Lotus Root (2018).

About the exhibition

Magic Wands, Batons and DNA Splicers brings to the question: How long is forever? In legal contracts, genetics, art, and our personal lives, we often employ expressions like “in perpetuity”, “everlasting”, “permanent”, even “immortal”. Yet the meaning of these terms is different in every situation and often alters in response to changing circumstances. Wong Kit Yi's work traces this conundrum across history and into such current biotechnology fields as gene splicing and reverse aging. Works include sliding-box wall photograph pieces, double-sided drawings on hinges, a DNA sampling station, and a film structured in her signatures karaoke-inspired sing-along format, bringing together family lore, Hong Kong history, bizarre sea creatures, and the concepts of ownership and long-term leasing—all with an eye to what "transparency" means in these diverse but somehow deeply related contexts.

All Wong's work will be available for acquisition in two different ways, one can:

  1. purchase them outright, and own them “forever”, or
  2. rent them on a 99-year lease preserved in a paper contract and on strings of DNA that can last 700,000 years.

About the artist

Wong Kit Yi (b. Hong Kong) lives and works between Hong Kong and New York. Recent solo shows include Futures, Again, P!, New York (2017), and Sandwich Theory: convertible painting series, a.m. space, Hong Kong (2016). Her works have been included in group projects such as Survival Kit 9, Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art, Riga (2017), In Search of Miss Ruthless, Para Site, Hong Kong (2017), and Bringing the World into the World, Queens Museum, New York (2014). Wong’s work has been reviewed in the New York Times, Art in America, Contemporary Art Daily, e-flux conversations, Art Review, ARTnews, Asian Art News, The Art Newspaper, Art Asia Pacific, China Daily and Modern Painters. Wong received her MFA from Yale University in 2012. Her most recent film A River in the Freezer (2017) was collected by the Kadist Art Foundation. Currently the 2017/18 Shift Resident at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York, she seeks biological answers to metaphysical questions.