‘Camoufleur’ is a solo exhibition of Hong-Kong based artist Nadim Abbas. Abbas produced a new site-specific installation using camouflage and the gallery’s panoramic positioning on the public square, exploring how urban environments can influence and encourage our assimilation to the spaces we inhabit.
Abbas is interested in how urban living conditions have produced specific social trends and subcultures. For this body of work, Abbas drew on the figure of the ‘Otaku’ or ‘Hikikomori’, both terms that originate in Japan and describe stereotypes of socially ill-equipped, middle-aged males who isolate themselves in a world of manga and anime consumption. A notable trend in Otaku culture is the fetishisation of the military, which manifests in the prevalence of violent video games and the collection of wartime memorabilia. Abbas’ concern is with the spaces that allow for the formation of these figures. It is as if the proliferation of cramped interior spaces in modern cities inspires this mental retreat.
‘Camoufleur’ touched on the unlikely correlation between domesticity and warfare. The term ‘camoufleur’ refers to the artists, zoologists and naturalists who were employed to design and implement military camouflage during World War I and II. The exhibition at VITRINE revolved around a wallpaper pattern, a point of reference for everything that is subsequently placed in the space, straddling connotations of the domestic – wallpaper is commonly employed in interior design – and militarized as a backdrop against which to conceal, and be concealed.
Throughout the duration of the show, Abbas had worked with a performer who inhabited the space, mimicking its surroundings like a stick insect camouflaged by the branch of a tree. The performer’s movements demonstrated the emptying of gestures, employing a body language that does not attract attention. Their role was both present and invisible, assimilated to the space to the extent that they are not immediately discernible to those passing by.
The unique positioning of the vitrine, which is visible twenty-four hours a day, created an interesting set of possibilities for this public display of domesticity. The exhibition space encourages repeat daily viewings and allows for varied and shifting encounters. Throughout the duration of the exhibition, Abbas presented new ways to inhabit the space through alterations in display and content. The roles of the performer and the backdrop fluctuated and overlapped over time, subtly influencing our perception of the co-dependent relationship between the two: the performer as an extension of the space, and the space as an extension of the performer.
‘Camoufleur’ was generously supported by Arts Council England.
Friday 3 March (6.15pm-7.15pm and 7.30pm-8.30pm)
Saturday 4 March (10.15am-11.15am and 11.30am-12.30pm)
Thursday 9 March (6.15pm-7.15pm and 7.30pm-8.30pm)
Friday 10 March (10.15am-11.15am and 11.30am-12.30pm)
Friday 17 March (6.15pm-7.15pm and 7.30pm-8.30pm)
Saturday 18 March (10.15am-11.15am and 11.30am-12.30pm)
Thursday 23 March (6.15pm-7.15pm and 7.30pm-8.30pm)
Friday 24 March (10.15am-11.15am and 11.30am-12.30pm)
Friday 31 March (6.15pm-7.15pm and 7.30pm-8.30pm)
Saturday 1 April (10.15am-11.15am and 11.30am-12.30pm)
Thursday 6 April (6.15pm-7.15pm and 7.30pm-8.30pm)
Friday 7 April (10.15am-11.15am and 11.30am-12.30pm)
Friday 14 April (6.15pm-7.15am and 7.30pm-8.30pm)
Saturday 15 April (10.15am-11.15am and 11.30am-12.30pm)
Performers: Raphael Schulenburg and Riccardo Tarocco.
Nadim Abbas (born 1980, Hong Kong) received his BFA from London’s Chelsea College of Art & Design and MPhil from the University of Hong Kong Department of Comparative Literature.
Recent solo exhibitions include: ‘The Last Vehicle’, UCCA, Beijing (2016); ‘#4’, Holy Motors, HK (2016); ‘Zone I’, The Armory Show, Armory Focus: China, New York (2014); ‘Satellite of ⁂’, CL3 Architects, HK Arts Centre, HK (2013); ‘Tetraphilia’, Third Floor Hermés, Singapore (2013) and ‘Marine Lover’, ARTHK11 Special Projects (2011).
Recent group exhibitions include: ‘Only the Lonely’, inCube Arts, New York (2016); ‘China 8: Views of China’, NRW Forum, Düsseldorf (2015); ‘Triennial: Surround Audience’, New Museum, New York (2015); ‘Unseen Existence: Dialogues with the Environment in Contemporary Arts’, HK Arts Centre, HK (2014); ‘Going, going, until I meet the tide’, Busan Biennale (2014); ‘The Part In The Story Where A Part Becomes A Part Of Something Else’, Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2014); ‘Apocalypse Postponed’, Absolut at Art Basel Hong Kong (2014) and ‘Where Narrative Stops’, Wilkinson Gallery’, London (2013).
Abbas was awarded the Asian Cultural Council Altius Fellowship and the HK Arts Development Award (Young Artist / Visual Arts) in 2014.