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James T Hong

Animal

3 December 2021 — 13 February 2022

Taiwanese-American artist and filmmaker James T Hong has been making provocative films for the past twenty years. Focusing on ideas of morality, his work prompts viewers to question their own biases and received wisdom through confronting and often humorous philosophical narratives. This is his first solo exhibition in Europe.

This exhibition presents two films by Hong which feature animals. The Duck of Nature/The Duck of God (2010) was originally made as an educational video for Dutch schoolchildren, and imagines the 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza as a mechanical duck, who is snubbed by other birds on the canals of Amsterdam. The scenario reflects Spinoza’s own experience, who was excommunicated by the Jewish community for his humanist beliefs.

The second film, De Anima (2021), is a two-channel video installation. The first channel, filmed in Taiwan, presents three points of view: the artist’s, that of the “enemy” virus (Covid-19), and a dog’s. The second channel, shot in India at the historical location where the Buddha gained enlightenment, reinterprets the first channel and represents the artist’s search for insight during the pandemic. In both elements, animals provide this insight with witty observations about human behaviour.