NEWS: "Dismantling the Scaffold" Nadim Abbas at Tai Kwun

The inaugural exhibition Dismantling the Scaffold, curated by the Hong Kong curator Christina Li and presented by Spring Workshop at Tai Kwun Contemporary, brings together works from local and international artists and collectives, a constellation of artworks which engage with the social and civil structures we collectively inhabit.

The artistic positions in the exhibition aim to open up insights as well as questions that reimagine and examine the established conventions and norms conditioning how we navigate and give shape to our everyday lives. The two major keystones in the exhibition concept are the site’s history and collaboration: the unique background of the site of the former Central Police Station compound—as a police station, magistracy, and prison in the past—as well as the collaboration of two contemporary art organizations at a convergence in their timelines—the beginning of Tai Kwun Contemporary and the planned hiatus of Spring Workshop after its 5-year operation.

The “scaffold”—the main motif for the exhibition—is commonly understood as a temporary support structure deployed while a building is being constructed or repaired. In its lesser-known usage, a scaffold can also refer to a construction used in the past to stage public executions and punishments. The title Dismantling the Scaffold thus brings together these two definitions in order to draw attention to the site’s previous historical function before its current transformation, all the while looking forward to its new role as a permanent cultural institution and heritage site in Hong Kong. 

Under this central metaphor of the scaffold, artworks in the exhibition explore art’s potential to illuminate and unpack our relationship with society at large. They offer poignant reflections of the invisible and visible structures that constitute and organise our daily existence among our surroundings. The personal and collective artistic presentations raise questions about various issues such as social participation, commodification, exclusion and confinement, urban development, collaboration, and human welfare in both public and private spheres.Dismantling the Scaffold thus hopes to offer alternative interpretations to the social conditions which underpin our experience as human beings.