Pak Sheung Chuen
Waiting for a Friend (without Appointment), 2006/2014

  • Multi-part photo installation, photo copies, handwritten notes, photos, text; unique
  • Variable dimensions
  • Acquired in 2014

Because time plays a special role in Pak’s work, the process takes precedence over the exhibited object. An item – or perhaps a state, a condition – may temporarily achieve the status of an artwork, but it may also lose this quality. The complete and updated version of Waiting for a Friend (without Appointment), 2006/2014, that has been acquired for the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection, is a six-part composition of framed texts, handwritten notes and photographs. The presentation form and the nature of the collection form are a fixed part of the concept.

The individual elements of the installation expand on the event mentioned in the title, placing it within a network of multiple connections, of multiple meanings or interpretations: A Story about “Waiting” (1) consists of a religious motif in text form: the parable of the Good Samaritan, which appears in the Gospel of Luke and is intended to inspire brotherly love. Remember my Entire Friends’ Names (2) is reproduced by the artist in a new form for every edition. It is a diptych: on the right-hand page, the artist writes down all of the friends’ names that he can remember, whilst the blank left-hand side is – in paradoxical fashion – dedicated to those friends whose names he can no longer recall due to forgetfulness. In Waiting for a Friend (without Appointment) (3), the simple act of waiting – which, in this case, might be understood as an action remaining unperformed, and yet also as a form of action – determines the nature of the production and reception of an artwork. This chance encounter with a friend – staged, albeit with an open outcome (the artist waited in a city rail passage until one of his friends happened by) – is documented by a snapshot and by a brief exchange of words, and the marking of a point in time: 16:38 h. Waiting for All the People Sleep (4) observes and lists the times of going to sleep of all the people in a Hong Kong apartment building: visible from the outside of the building because of people switching the lights off in their rooms. Each protagonist is relatively important, but meaningless in relation to the whole. Waiting for a Friend (Without Appointment, Airport Version) (5) once again shows the artist waiting for a friend who does not turn up – this time, in the arrivals area of an airport. This section ends with A Poem (6), which defines the artwork’s key conceptual factor in poetic terms: ‘Time justifies its existence in the process of waiting…’

Pak Sheung Chuen

* 1977 Anxi County, CHN
Lives and works in Hong Kong, HK

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