Opportunity ‧ Masters
CatchUP with Renatus Wu
#CatchUP with Renatus Wu, designer and publisher of ‘After Opportunity’
W: WMA, R: Renatus
W: We know you are a book designer, and you have curated a number of exhibitions before. Is ‘After Opportunity’ your first paper exhibition? What are the challenges you have faced?
R: The process of curation is actually quite similar in some ways to drafting and editing a book. In these years designing books and being involved in some editing work, I have been privy to the processes of some very experienced editors. Between the backwards and forwards of design and editing, an idea came to me: would it be possible to create an exhibition experience through reading and books?
‘After Opportunity’ is perhaps my first ‘Exhibition on Paper’ in this sense, although back in 2017 the idea started sprouting when I was designing ‘A Living Space II’ for Through Our Eyes (TOE) Photography Education Programme. This project began in early 2019 and the process has gone through so many unexpected ups and downs, much like Hong Kong in 2019. The biggest challenge is how to respond to and record our swiftly changing society through the method of publication.
W: You said philosopher Alain de Bottom has influenced you a lot, one being the idea to “create a book” is to build a multi-dimensional narrative. Is this also the thinking behind ‘Exhibition on Paper’?
R: What influenced me the most is what Alain de Bottom did beyond the world of his books. In 2014, he curated a special exhibition for ‘Art as Therapy’ with Dutch book designer Irma Boom. In this exhibition, they placed a large post-it sticker onto every piece of art in the permanent exhibition of a traditional art gallery. On each post-it was a new title and his thoughts. From his angle as a philosopher, he intervened in a traditional art exhibition and was successful in attracting people who had never been to a gallery. At the same time, his method also attracted criticism – some thought that he was neither reasonable nor professional; some left in indignation half way. I think that’s still a pretty good outcome.
Whether it be a publication or an exhibition, the goal is the same – to lead people to think about things that we have taken for granted or have become numb to. Exhibition on paper is an attempt to intervene in conventional exhibition experiences and explore more possibilities.
W: From publishing to curating the exhibition, what would you like to bring to the audience?
R: Beginning with ‘Opportunity’ as an open question, this project has experienced exploration, interpretation and examination from different parties, culminating in this exhibition to reread and respond as the finale. Through this reading experience, we hope to encourage viewers to reflect quietly and respond personally with their own answers for the journey ahead.