Cover The M+ Pavilion in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District is currently exhibiting artist Shirley Tse’s Stakes and Holders, following her successful solo show at 2019’s Venice Biennale (Photo: Courtesy of Ringo Cheung)

Following her solo show at 2019’s Venice Biennale, artist Shirley Tse returns to Hong Kong with the exhibition "Shirley Tse: Stakes and Holders"—now showing at M+ Pavilion in West Kowloon Cultural District

Everything is a negotiation, a constant push and pull between different sides until common ground is found and settled on. Hong Kong-born and Los Angeles-based artist Shirley Tse explores this concept in her exhibit Shirley Tse: Stakes and Holders. It first served as Hong Kong’s participation at the 58th Venice Biennale as Shirley Tse: Stakeholders, Hong Kong in Venice last year, and now finds itself in her land of birth.

Tse has an extensive background in the arts, being a faculty member at the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles, and having exhibited at globally-known institutions like the Museum of Modern Art, New Museum of Contemporary Art, MoMA PS1, Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge, and New Zealand’s Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, amongst others. Having Tse’s work at the Biennale was historic in a way, as she was the first female artist that presented a solo show at the exhibition’s Hong Kong pavilion.

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Shirley Tse: Stakes and Holders was put together by guest curator Christina Li, and is currently on display at the M+ Pavilion, in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District. Comprising two installations, Negotiated Difference and Playcourt, Tse and Li modify the Biennale exhibit to respond to the current exhibition space, which also serves as inspiration for Tse’s works.

Negotiated Differences is an expansive sculpture scattered across the exhibition space. Here, objects made from wood, metal, and plastic elements are all seamlessly interconnected, despite of their different forms. Tse was drawn to using objects shaped by a wood lathe or through carving, and connects them using joints made through 3D printing. It’s a marriage of differences, the old and new; subtraction in the form of carving and addition in the form of additive manufacturing. 

Playcourt, on the other hand, features sculptures that draw out the concepts of negotiation, illustrated through badminton rackets and radio antennas. Growing up in Hong Kong, Tse and her siblings would play badminton on the street. Having no middle net or strict rules, it would be up to the players to determine how to go about their game. The trust and imagination of opposing teams would draw up the imaginary court on the streets. Once the game begins, the rules, the objectives, and the limitations get blurred and jumbled up. Is it badminton still, or is it something else entirely? Recounting this time of her youth, Tse fashions an imagined badminton court from sculptures of odd shapes. Radio sculptures are also set up around, picking up non-commercial and recreational frequencies. 

The act of reclamation is a theme that is presented here: when spaces on the street are used to play a simple game of badminton, it pushes the purpose and boundaries of private and public spaces. Where most radio stations exist for use by government and commercial functions, Tse reclaims air space by tapping into non-commercial and recreational frequencies, and broadcasting them into the exhibition spaces. 

Due to the pandemic, both Tse and Li were unable to work on the installation in person, instead of communicating across three timezones: Tse in Los Angeles, Li in Amsterdam, and the installation team in Hong Kong. But rather than be a hindrance to all those involved, this approach further accentuates Tse’s concepts of negotiation, communication, and play. 

Shirley Tse: Stakes and Holders is on display at M+ Pavilion, Art Park, West Kowloon Cultural District, until 1 November 2020. For more information, visit

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