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14 Sep 2016 - 16 Oct 2016

Within the context of museum publications, words are often relegated to the role of analytically grounding an exhibition within an artistic continuum, or emotively describing the visual world into syllables. The ekphrastic tradition—of narrating a work of art­—stands as a discrete artistic form. Over the eras the term has referred to a verbal or written description of an object or experience, a poem inspired by a work of art, as well as a means with which to contest modes of literary realism. Interruptions incorporates aspects of each of these, with a particular emphasis on personal interpretation and visuals that can act as a trigger for memories—both real and imagined.

The spine of this current project is a series of interlocking images and texts that began with a single photograph selected from David Clarke’s archive. Xu Xi then wrote an essay triggered by—but not necessarily in response to—the photograph, which led to David’s choice of a second work. The 12 images and essays construct a fascinating palimpsest of memoir and artistic expression. By “interrupting” each other’s lives with a piece of art from a dueling medium, the artists were compelled to reevaluate their own histories and creative output. What is ultimately created is a form of linked poem or renga, though without the strict stanzaic limitation of that particular form.

In the mid-’90s, David Clarke and UMAG collaborated on a similar reevaluation of the creative and curatorial processes through an exhibition series known as Engaging Tradition. In the second of these exhibitions, the late author Leung Ping-kwan chose items from UMAG’s archaeological collection and then wrote poems in response to the individual pieces. This collaboration was interesting both for the writing generated from the museum pieces, as well as for the curatorial process employed in transforming the pottery and bronze into sherds of creative writing.

UMAG is grateful to David Clarke and Xu Xi for their collaboration, and we look forward to presenting further “interruptions” that delve into a range of issues, including the role of the museum in contemporary society and the relationship between contemporary artists and traditional art forms.


When I Was Your Age

 Leicester Square, London,

 shortly before guests arrive for the world premiere of

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:

 Part 2, 7 July 2011


Les Estrangers

 Jacques Chirac, President of France, and

 Gerhard Schröder, Chancellor of Germany,

near the Brandenburg Gate, Pariser Platz, Berlin, Germany,

26 June 2000


Walking on Water

 Venice, Italy, 

 with a view of the island of 

 San Giorgio Maggiore, 

10 June 2011

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