An account of how to respond in a case of artwork emergency (Venice edition)
Gallery Interns Sai Wing (left) and Annie Lye (right) amending artwork 'Negotiated Differences' by Shirley Tse. © 2019 Hong Kong Pavilion, 58th Venice Biennale
1 pair of latex gloves per person
1 box of spare 3D-connectors
1 x-acto knife
1 video camera
2 pairs of steady hands (exhibition interns)
3 sheets of bubble wrap and cardboard (an assortment of sizes)
Preload SD card into video camera and set resolution to 1920 x 1080. First, discuss the required steps needed to amend the artwork as requested by the artist. Marinate for 10 minutes to ensure that all members are fully saturated with an understanding of their roles and responsibilities.
Place all the necessary equipment and tools neatly to one side, a safe distance away from the artwork. Layout the sheets of bubble wrap and cardboard, one on each side of the work.
Press record and entrust the Italian gallery coordinator with documentation. Gently, with both hands, remove all the detached plastic and/or wooden pieces away from the work. Place onto cardboard. Remove any artist tape exposed on the wooden sculpture by scoring lightly, with extreme care, using the x-acto knife. Peel off the layers with tweezers, alternating between the tip styles as necessary.
Re-attach disconnected 'limbs' to the rest of the artwork by first positioning the desired location and angle. Combine creative problem-solving and playfulness until the correct size of 3D-plastic connector is found, about 3 minutes. Slowly beat in teamwork and ingenuity. Mix well.
Remove safety padding from under the working area and wait for Italian coordinator to approve with a "Bravo/a, I like." Add the final wooden 'limb' to an available opening in the connector. Twist in slowly and steadily. Remove any fallen debris and store away all pieces of equipment.
Re-open the gallery and serve with a big smile of relief.
Sai Wing (Gallery Intern) transporting a piece of the sculpture © 2019 Hong Kong Pavilion, 58th Venice Biennale
Sai Wing (Gallery Intern) storing away a piece of the artwork 'Negotiated Differences' © 2019 Hong Kong Pavilion, 58th Venice Biennale
Annie Lye (Gallery Intern) attaching a wooden limb to the artwork 'Negotiated Differences' © 2019 Hong Kong Pavilion, 58th Venice Biennale
Annie Lye is a writer and film photographer. Her interests lie in the liminal boundaries between visual arts and architecture.
Currently a research assistant in the Department of Architecture at The University of Hong Kong. In 2017, she curated the photo-documentary exhibition of Rajasthan's Free Medicine Scheme (Slater Concourse Gallery, 2017), which she participated in as a photojournalist. Aside from her photographic pursuits, Lye is also the creative director and co-founder of Bean+Co., a multi-disciplinary creative studio.
Lye received her BA in Interdisciplinary Literary and Visual Studies from Tufts University.