Where is the Sage, 2011
Archival Digital Print
75 x 120 cm
Excerpt from “Hong Kong Artists: 20 Portraits”
Verlag für moderne Kunst, ISBN 978-3-86984-322-3
… In Where is the Sage (2011–), an ongoing performance and installation piece, Wong references the well‐known tale of how Chinese poet Li Bai was inspired to work hard by an old woman he met by a riverbank as a young boy avoiding school. Transferring his belief in the moral of the story to his art practice, Wong literally grinds an iron rod (which is in turn a metaphor of himself)*, attempting to turn it into a needle. “It’s going to be a lifelong performance”, the artist adds. Whilst we cannot know whether the iron rod will one day eventually become a needle, it is clear that Wong places emphasis on process over results; he is nothing but serious about his excessive, if not wasted, efforts. As Georges Bataille said, “human energies are freely spent only when they are devoted to unproductive expenditure”. Lingering over the minimalist installation of Where is the Sage, one is left not only with the sense of the artist’s strong will in executing a hopelessly impossible task, but also with one’s faith in the freedom to dream and push physical and conceptual boundaries in art and life.
* The iron rod is the same height and weight as the artist.