• Erika Argiolas



Hong Kong artist Wong Ping tackles the coveted question of how we relate and how we feel blocked in social relations in our modern, technological society.

The work was presented in 2018 during the ONE HAND CLAPPING exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The theme centered on a Koan, an ancient riddle used in the Buddhist practice of Zen to go beyond the limits imposed by typical logical reasoning, which reads like this: “We know the sound of two hands clapping. But how can we know the sound of only one hand?

Thinking about a hand clapping on its own and the possible sound it can make is something really bizarre to think about and the philosophical perplexities that this saying imposes are a good starting point to ask real questions on how the world and its inhabitants perceive themselves within societies and how the single individual now so addicted to technology can still manage to create healthy social relationships.


Dear, can I give you a hand?

It is a video installation on large LED screens, through which tragicomic animation tells the surreal story of an elderly and lonely widower who spends his time taking an interest with his VHS porn rather than maintaining a bond with his family.

The futuristic visions proposed in One hand clapping, however absurd and with a contemptuous humor, do not completely succumb to cynicism: in fact, all the works presented - although they also underline in a rather explicit and provocative way the lack of connection between people - have the intent to communicate the absolute need to reaffirm empathy and mutual understanding between people, feelings that are absent and necessary in this historical moment.

This process is possible only through the demolition of cultural walls and boundaries, in order to obtain new relationships with the past and at the same time with the future.

Wong Ping is an artist with formidable abilities, able to observe everyday life in detail and consequently transform it into narration in a confusion of disruptive images; in fact, in this perspective he perceives that technology is severely limiting our imagination rather than favoring its expansion, and we find ourselves living in a reality in which even the concept of aesthetics is globalizing, leading to the birth of a sort of universal identity where there is no longer any distinction.

Every day we experience a continuous display of images that are all the same, and the ability to use our imagination is consequently reduced, while our attention span begins to diminish in our eternal fluctuation in an information technology.

We are no longer used to living in relationship with slow processes, we are not even able to appreciate them anymore and we have such an urgent need to absorb as much information as possible that there is not even room for poetics, fantasy or romanticism.


The narration of Wong Ping flows fluidly in his sculptural screen, in 13 minutes of animation, the artist presents - in psychedelic and geometric tones but also a bit repugnant, in some ways scandalous, - the story of the elderly gentleman who has to make room in some way to new things; its story of loneliness and difficulties - echo the sense of unease of the inhabitants of Hong Kong in the perspective of an increasingly progressive marginalization within the Chinese hegemony. That of the eighty-year-old is an age criminalized by a ruthless world, but it is also the story of a man who would like to live in the company of his daughter and his grandson; multigenerational coexistence is very common in Hong Kong, especially due to the big problem of expensive housing and the increasingly poor social security for the elderly. The protagonist lives a reality in which, although the various Chinese blessings wish and invoke a long and luxuriant longevity, social problems make this desiderated life in some ways very difficult.

Wong's video, however, set in playful tones and the deliberately retro style of animation, neon colors and geometric block shapes, make the content and harsh reality of the generational conflict faced much more digestible.

What do you think about this art genere? Do you think that video art could it be an efficient and direct way to express problems inherent the society in which we live? Or do you think it's limiting?

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