Anothermountainman (Stanley Wong) is a Hong Kong artist, photographer and designer. He is best known for his redwhiteblue series which are installations, 3D pieces, or posters made out of the common red, white and blue plastic bags people in Hong Kong typically use to hold cargo. Coming from a background in advertising and television, Wong has become known as a fine artist over the past ten years and is now recognized as one of Hong Kong’s best.
Wong has all the hallmarks of a successful artist—shows in international galleries, numerous awards and inclusion in museum collections—yet he describes what he does as primarily being about connecting with people. In an interview with Time Out HK he says, “I’m attempting to communicate with the public through the platform of art. I see myself as both a social worker and a missionary; I don’t see myself as an artist.” To further these goals, he is involved in design education, gives guest lectures, and, as a scholar of Buddhism, seeks to share his hope for world harmony. What I think is apparent in his work without any prior knowledge of his motivations is a desire to record compelling aspects of society and to comment on human nature.
One of his projects that strikes me as particularly powerful is Lanwei. The first character of “lanwei” means broken and the second means tail. Together they mean unfinished; something that has fallen short of completion; started and couldn’t be brought to an end. It is a personal photography series that documents abandoned residences, offices, theme parks and other half-built projects across Asia. The properties he chose to photograph were not just incomplete architectural structures but came with stories of sudden disruption. Most of the commercial buildings were begun in the 1980’s when Asia hit an economic boom before companies realized that there wasn’t enough money to finish what they’d started. The amusement park in Beijing that features in a large portion of the series was abandoned when the child who it was built for died.
Lanwei itself almost became a story of lanwei. Wong had the concept in his head for 5 years before starting it in 2006. He then worked on it infrequently for the next 6 years and completed it in 2012 with a show at Blindspot galleries. He has said that the realization of this project came about shortly before the Chinese government started removing unused property. The evidence of incompletion was about to disappear before he could document its presence.
Much of his past work is on his website and is well worth exploring and diving into. Most projects come with a short poetic description written by Wong (originally in Cantonese with English translation). Besides having frequent exhibitions, I like that he also makes time to pursue ideas that interest him outside of his regular work. Wong most recently had an installation called Show Flat 04 at the Singapore Biennale.