If the premise of culture is representation, then the promise of cultural exchange — as one might reasonably suppose — is understanding. But what underlies this promise of understanding?

Tsubasa Kato went to a small island that lies between Korea and Japan to perform a simple task with a fellow Korean. They do not speak each other’s language, but they cooperated and achieved the work. They have seemingly understood each other through humor and patience. This became an artwork entitled “言葉が通じない (kotoba ga tsūjinai)” and the inspiration for this broader meaning of understanding, now expressed as a joint exhibition between National Museum of Art, Osaka (NMAO) and Singapore Art Museum (SAM), at Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong.

“They Do Not Understand Each Other” will be showcasing 2 new commissions and 23 artworks from the collections of NMAO and SAM. These two major Asian museums not only represent a diverse range of artworks by individual artists from Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Puerto Rico, but they also represent the region of Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia respectively. The artists as well as the exhibition itself now becomes an arena for cultural presentation and exchange, fostering cross-culture dialogues whereby the result “considers the negotiations and expectations of the culture.”

Reinforcing and seeing the potential of art in facilitating understanding, “the exhibition also shows how much intangible artworks like photography, video, and performance entered important institutions and are now seen as an essential part of our cultural heritage” as told by Tobias Berger, Head of Art at Tai Kwun.

Artists on show:

Jennifer ALLORA & Guillermo CALZADILLA (Puerto Rico)
Agnes ARELLANO (Philippines)
chi too (Malaysia)
Heman CHONG (Singapore)
CHUA Chye Teck (Singapore)
HO Tzu Nyen (Singapore)
Sojung JUN (South Korea)
Tsubasa KATO (Japan)
Charles LIM (Singapore)
Kumi MACHIDA (Japan)
Kohei SEKIGAWA (Japan)
Kazuo SHIRAGA (Japan)
Akira TAKAYAMA (Japan)
THAN Sok (Cambodia)
Ming WONG (Singapore)


They Do Not Understand Each Other
25 May to 13 September 2020
11am to 8pm daily (except Monday from 2pm to 8pm)
Tai Kwun’s art galleries, at JC Contemporary
Admission is free
A 360° virtual gallery will soon be on view on Tai Kwun’s website for local and international audiences to experience the exhibition online.
Visitors are encouraged to book their free Tai Kwun Pass online via https://www.taikwun.hk/en/visit/taikwun_pass prior to visiting for guaranteed admission. Walk-ins are also welcome, subject to site capacity conditions. Please note that appropriate sanitary measures are in place with regards to the ongoing coronavirus situation.


Image Caption: Wit Pimkanchanapong – Not Quite A Total Eclipse | Kumi Machida – Snow Day & Tsubata Kato – They Do Not Understand Each Other | Kazuo Shiraga – Chishousei Kakoko & Chikeisei Soutoki | Jun Nguyen Hatsushiba – Memorial Project Nha Trang | Charles Lim – Sea State 9 |  Ming Wong – In Love for the Mood | Ho Tzu Nyen – Earth