The M+ Gallery is slated to become Hong Kong’s (rather late) attempt as pitching itself as a high culture pitstop. When it opens at West Kowloon, the museum is promised to provide a survey of modern and contemporary art through an East Asian perspective – which of course, museums in Shanghai, Seoul, Taipei and Bangkok are already doing. The acquisition by the museum of many of Hong Kong’s endangered neon signs in a “neon art” display could well be a colourful highlight, however. But until the opening of the museum proper, there is a small temporary display venue, the M+ pavilion, located in the midst of the rubble of the ongoing construction, next to the Western tunnel freeway.
The second M+ exhibition “Ambiguously Yours” has caught a little bit of attention (the first show went by largely unnoticed) with its retrospective of gender representation in Hong Kong’s 1980s and 1990s pop culture. On display are clips from “golden age” Hong Kong cinema, magazine covers, stage costumes of Anita Mui and Roman Tam and the iconic red sequinned shoes worn on stage by Leslie Cheung before he died. Its a small collection and not without interest but in the end it left me without a clear idea of what exactly the museum was trying to say – what about gender in Hong Kong popular culture? Was this just a “collection of stuff” or was there a salient point being made? If so, it flew over my head.