Pak Sheung Chuen: Reading Everyday Life

Pak Sheung Chuen: Reading Everyday Life

Pak Sheung Chuen’s playful work slyly alters the experience of everyday life. He explores, on the one hand, the mental and social “space” between everything that is structured, routine, and stable in our world, and on the other, he investigates coincidence, chance encounters, the arbitrary, and the imaginative. In so doing, he reveals artistic moments in everyday life and brings to the fore the interwoven nature of reality and the imaginary. He prefers to use himself and his writings as a medium, conceiving his works as actions or subtle manipulations of the regular course of events. In most cases these performative actions have no audience; rather, they consist of journeys and self-experiments that engage with ever-changing environments.

In an earlier work called “Waiting for a Friend (without Appointment)”, Pak went to the Kowloon Tong MTR station waiting area and waited until someone he knew walked out. He has also created a large permanent installation in the New York Public Library. In this project, the artist folded page twenty-two of every second book in the library. Another work consisted of a five-day trip to Malaysia, during which he kept his eyes closed the whole time; he took pictures so he could discover the country after he returned home. A similar project in Tokyo called “Valley’s Trip” (2007), for which the artist travelled from southern to northern Tokyo by walking only in the areas corresponding to the middle folds of his map. For his project “Going Home” for the Taipei Biennial 2010, Pak looked for people in the museum lobby who would allow him to accompany them to their homes.

A Little Flower for the Passer-by


I arranged five one-dollar coins into the shape of a flower and placed them at the street corner. Then I drew it a twig and leaf and date (as a mark), waiting for those “in need” to pick them up. The one who picked them up would be like to receive a flower. The twig and leaf and date would remain, as well as the feeling of luck and blessing.

PAK_MingPao_FlowerBeginning form 2003, I worked for a Hong Kong mainstream newspaper “Ming Pao” as an art columnist. I published a piece of conceptual artwork almost every week until 2006 (totally 3 years). All the artworks were initiated by the experience of everyday life in Hong Kong. I worked for them in full page (58cm x 35cm), half page or 1/4 page.

The Horizon Placed at Home
Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong


I drew a horizontal line on the map of Victoria Harbor. The horizontal line went through five coasts. I collect a bottle of seawater from every coast. The seawater is of the same height. I put the five bottles of seawater at home. A horizon emerged.

C6_HorizonHome small


Miracle of $132.30
Shatin CRC Supermarket, Hong Kong
13.11.2003 12:46

I bought 8 commodities from a supermarket and got a bill. If you read carefully on every second words of each names on the bill, from top to the bottom, you will discover a miracle: 信/他/的/人/必/得/永/生. (Translation: Whoever / believes / in / him / should… have / eternal / life.) (John 3:16, Bible)


Waiting for All the People Slept
Tokin Street, Sham Shui Po
27.12.2006 22:30 – 28.12.2006 06:00


I kept standing in front of a 13 floors building at Sham Shui Po. Waiting there, until all the people slept. Time of the photos: 22:38 / 01:40 / 02:36 / 04:09 / 05:04.

Waiting for a Friend (without Appointment)
Kowloon Tong MTR Station, Hong Kong
29.12.2006 12:47-16:38


Without any appointment, I stood in a specific place waiting for a friend to come. This time, Jacky appeared at 16:38. He asked me, “How did you know I’d be here?” I told him, “I really didn’t know… but I’ve been expecting you at here for a long time!”

Breathing in a House
A apartment (6.7M x 2.7M x 2.2M) in Busan, Korea
1-10.09.2006 (10 days)
Video Documentation: 6:22


I live in a small house, Breathing Until I use up all the air in the whole house.

Valleys Trip
Map: Tokyo 23rd District (1:10,000 / 2006-1 Edition)
I walked vertically from p.1 to p.296, total 24 pages.
Period: 27-28.2.2007, 1-2.3.2007, 5.3.2007

复件 C5_ValleyTravel

I found a small thick Tokyo 23 District map book. I opened the map, the map spread across both sides of the pages, leaving the middle (near where the binding is) unclear even if I tried pushing the pages down really hard. When I saw the gap, suddenly it clicked inside me like the journey was meant to be. Therefore I made plan to walk from page 1 to 296, one pages after another (there are 24 pages in total), from the south of Tokyo to the North end.

New York Public Library Project (NYPLP) 4:
Sleeping in a Mountain


This artwork was created to commemorate Mr. Law Chi Wah (羅志華), the owner of the Youth Literary Book Store (青文書屋), who was found dead under a pile of books on the 4th Feb 2008, 14 days after the books collapsed onto him. The work was collected by the Mid-Manhattan Library as a piece of artwork. This drawing will appear as long as books on check-out list are piled up in order into the shape of a mountain. / Position: Mid-Manhattan Library, 455 Fifth Avenue at 40th Street, New York, close on Sunday / Document: 2 Photographs: 270x60cm, 46x18cm

White Library / A Mind Reaching for Emptiness
Location of the Collection: Asia Art Archive
11/F Hollywood Centre, 233 Hollywood Rd, Hong Kong. Close on Sunday

A blank page is a pause of time in reading. It could also be readable, offering infinite imagination. A blank page creates a common link in different books, giving us a vision of the whole. During my residency in Asia Art Archive, I tried to photocopy all the blank pages from its collection, attempting to create an alternative to the archive’s collection.


006. Freedom of Expression in the Arts (Edited by Eddin Khoo, Ramdas Tikamdas, Elizabeth Wong)

Using the Light of the Waning Moon to Draw a Full Moon
5.9.2007, Norway
Photography: 90cm x 120cm


I took this photograph with long exposure: I aimed the camera at the new moon, and then rotated the camera in a full circle within 1.3 seconds. The light from the new moon was traced as an orbit in the film. After hundreds of attempts, the new moon finally became a full moon.

A Travel without Visual Experience
Malaysia, (5-days/4-nights tour)


I joined a 5-day/4-nights tour group to Malaysia, a country that I had never been before. From Hong Kong to Malaysia then back to Hong Kong, I either closed or covered up my eyes (in order to pretend that I was blind) for the entire journey. During the trip, I was still doing all the sightseeing and took many photos, but instead of seeing, I only used my body to sense and experience my surroundings. These photographs enabled my “future” eyes to view the documented foreign landscapes at a later stage. My images, along with photography and videos from other members of the tour group, became the sole reference of my indirect memories and visual experience for Malaysia. I will never step foot into Malaysia again.

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Going Home Projects
A project for Taipei Biennial 2010, Taiwan
12.8.2010 – 8.11.2010


An artist stands in the museum lobby, waiting for an audience willing to let him accompany him/her home. He has placed a vertical banner in the lobby that reads “Let the artist go home with you!” to recruit viewers on the scene to participate in his event. Go Home is a site “artist” and “audience” can exchange their roles. On the way, the audience takes a position of parity with the artist, both acting as audience and providing creative content, while the artist similarly plays dual roles as creator and viewer. In this way, between the two people and the road, four roles are shared.

When the viewer enters the museum to view works of art he encounters the artist instead. Is this equal to/not equal to art? If an art work is an object placed in a museum for people to view, when you encounter an artist in a museum you are coming face to face with a fluid art work and a mobile museum. You meet the work of art in a point to point encounter, but you and the artist in transit are two overlapping parallel lines, where each moment along the time line can be art. And you might even believe that you are the artist.

The artist himself becomes an “audience” as he stands in the lobby waiting for an audience to appear. Like viewing a film, he anticipates the appearance of unexpected surprises and exciting developments before his eyes: first is an unknown person, followed by an unknown route, and finally an unknown place. “The unknown” is both mysterious and magnetic, and the biggest creative impetus. When the audience leads the artist to depart the museum, the audience becomes the leading role. They become the follow travelers on the way. Their role are changing. When the artist arrived the audience’s home, audience become “artist”, and his home become a “museum”.

The Go Home Project places the artist and viewer on equal footing, to get to know and discover each other, both stressing the importance of exchange and trust, and placing importance on arbitrariness and randomness in the creative process. It is not a finished work, per se; perhaps the finished work is a variable itself.


Going Home Projects: First Day (2010-8-12), Pak Sheung Chuen and Ms. C.

When audiences enter the museum to see the artworks, they meet the artist instead. Can the artist replace artworks? If an artwork is an object placed in a museum for people to view, then when you meet an artist in the museum, you are running into a lively artwork and mobile museum. You “meet” the works of art in a point-to-point way, but you and the artist are two parallel lines that somehow overlapped. Each moment along the timeline is art. And you might even believe that you are an artist.

The artist himself becomes an “audience” as he stands in the lobby waiting for a company. He is looking for surprises and exciting moments: first comes a stranger, followed by an unfamiliar route, and finally he goes to a new place. This is like shooting a film based on someone’s real life. The unknown and mysterious parts are joyful.

Going Home Projects is a scene where the artist and the audience exchange their roles. In the audience’s home, the artist becomes a viewer. It is a plan that takes audiences away from the museum as museum is not the only place to exhibit art. Art can be everywhere: at your home or even on the way. However, for me, Going Home Projects is more of a “travel plan with a stranger” at public expense. It’s flattering to go on a guided tour in Taiwan by a Taiwanese. So I’d like to thank the museum and the audience for your support.

The Going Home Projects was planned by the artist and was accomplished with the help of the audience. It places the artist and the viewer on equal positions, where they get to know each other and create artworks together. Communication and trust are key here, as well as randomness in the creative process. It is not a finished work, per se; the finished work is only a variable in the process.

Journal of PAK Sheung Chuen 2011.7.27 – 2011.11.14

Not only we lost the natures, but the most terrible part is, we also the connections with natures. We no longer please the beautiful things; we never realize our insignificancy; we don’t fear of darkness; we don’t know how to revere; we have nothing to look forward; we have no thoughts… In this set of work, I attempt to provoke the primitive spiritual and sentimental reactions to nature that we suppose to have. Nature is not necessarily about greeneries or trees. I, myself, my body and all the things around are the part of nature. From sound, lightness, temperature, air, changes of seasons, to speed, distance, scenery we see, things we touch, relationships between people and between people and nature etc., we create different scenes in daily life to rebuild this instinctive sensation which we should have.

I wandered in the city and rested at home, until I was peaceful enough to listens what my heart spoke, which were the natural reactions to the things around. I jotted them from 2011.7.27 to 2011.11.14. During these 111 days, I wrote 417 short sentences on my sketch book. I excerpted 242 sentences for the book, and some sentences printed on the wall. I and students explored in the city as a workshop. We put some of the ideas into practice, and recorded the process…..


Pak Sheung Chuen’s sketch book



-Reading an email just like watching an exhibition. / An exhibition that can be held in an email.

-Go and see an exhibition, but only focus on the space of the venue. / Imagine the artworks never exist.

-Read a newspaper in others’ hands.

-The man who only leaflets to women.



-I bought a cylinder glass. Everytime I hold the glass, my hand forms a whole circle naturally.

-Wait at a door which no one else is waiting on the MTR platform for someone who comes to you.

-Two people coming together means one person with two bodies, their worries will be doubled as well.

-Visual art is – when you read, images emerge in your mind.

-When a daughter is taller than her mom.



-The moon hangs on the exact spot where the sun stays in the daytime.

-The bird starts singing at dawn. / It is the most tranquil moment in the world, when most people are still sleeping.

-The glass was moved slightly after you drank the water. / You saw two circular watermarks overlapping on the table.

-Climb up to the peak, and stare at each other with the top floor of a building. (Choi Yun)

-Listen to stereo music with a single ear.

-Connect the last scene of your dream with the first scene you wake up to.


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Exhibition view of “Vision of Nature: Lost & Found”, Hong Kong Arts Centre, 2011

Journal of Guangzhou I (2011.12.14-17)

Journal of Guangzhou II (2012.01.14-18)


I travelled in the city to capture the interesting ideas. I wrote down the ideas in short sentences, some sentences turn into photosand videos. I also tried to put some of the ideas into practice. The whole project is still in developing…

1. Remain silent to a cab driver. 2011-12-15
2. When leaving, one prefer the view in front of the train; all the scene are rolling backwards on return. 2011-12-15
3. Look into the eyes of those sitting across and not watching you until they notice. 2011-12-15
4. There is fire at your pupils when staring at a fire; it is consuming all the darkness in your eyes. 2011-12-15
5. Staring at the sun until its circle impressed in your memory. 2012-3-8


30. Study body aesthetics with men who never see adult video. 2011-12-17
31. Put an unmarked adult video DVD copy in a corner in the church and secretly tell a church member about it. 2011-12-17
32. Not to waste time equals having a long life. 2011-12-17
33. Collect the snowflake from a TV station in Iceland. 2011-12-17


49. Search the image of “a bad person” with google and look for one of your acquaintances; do it again with the image of “a good person”. 2011-12-18
50. The sound of placing two microphones together. 2011-12-18
51. The time spending on waiting for a lady using the bathroom in a shopping mall. 2011-12-18
52. Assemble people with the same height and form a cube with a human shape. 2011-12-18


68. A queue of bus drivers moves from one spot to another on an empty road. 2012-3-19
69. Travel from the southern border to the northern border of a country and stand on the meeting point of two countries. 2012-3-19
70. Make all the emotions you use in daily life. 2012-3-19


75. A white orange. 2012-3-19


Exhibition view of Sensory Training, Vitamin Creative Space, GUANGZHOU, 2012


C reative Space, GUANGZHOU, 2012


Exhibition view of Sensory Training, Vitamin


(All images: Courtesy the artist and Vitamin Creative Space, Text: Vitamin Archive)