Art Hotpot in Sopot 《打邊爐》波蘭: an art exchange program between visual artists from Sopot and Hong Kong

"Art Hotpot in Sopot" an art exchange program between visual artists from Sopot and Hong Kong

Curated and Presented by:C&G Artpartment, and Zatoka Sztuki, MCKA

Venue:Zatoka Sztuki, MCKA, Sopot, Poland

Supported by:Hong Kong Arts Development Council and Burger Collection


(Poland)Elvin Flamingo, Katarzyna Podpora, Kamila Chomicz, Natalia Turczynska-Schmidt, Karolina Matea, Magda Malyjasiak, Justyna Stycha Orlowska i wspoltworcy, Gosia Kalinowska

(Hong Kong)Cally Yu, Law Man-Lok, Lock Lo Chi-Kit, Clara Cheung, Gum Cheng

Artist Talk:7pm, (Sun)15 January, 2012

Theme: Art and Society in Hong Kong

Exhibition Opening: 6pm, (Sat) 21 January, 2012

The second part of this program will launch in Hong Kong in March, 2012, with an exhibition opening on 31, March, 2012. Five Polish artists, Elvin Flamingo, Katarzyna Podpora, Kamila Chomicz, Natalia Turczynska-Schmidt, Karolina Matea, together with the five Hong Kong artists will do their Art Hotpot with again, but with Cantonese style!

The followings are 1.the background, 2.concept, and 3.notes on Art Hotpot in Sopot. Besides, you can also find more details here:

Background and Concept of this exchange program:


Both Sopot, Poland and Hong Kong seem to be the third-world regions when it comes to contemporary art. These two cities are not lack of money. In fact, they both are pretty well off in their tourism sectors. Hong Kong even has an “international” well-known art fair. Nevertheless, local contemporary artists in both places are not well supported. Sopot does not have a contemporary art gallery. Hong Kong has many art galleries, but only a few trade artworks by local artists. The percentage of expenditure into the development of contemporary art in these two places is not much either.

Despite of this unpleasant background, both Sopot and Hong Kong are not lack of enthusiastic artists and art teams. Under its revitalization scheme in 2009, the city council of Sopot called for proposals to run a cultural art center at a long-abandoned building on the beach in Sopot. Several Polish artists then teamed with several art lovers from the business sector to submit a proposal to start MCKA (Multi-disciplinary Center of Arts and Culture Foundation). Besides launching different creative art programs, MCKA also has a café and restaurants to help financially fund its programs. In Hong Kong, C&G Artpartment is another example of an alternative art space. It was started up by two local artists in 2007. It does not rely on any long-term funding from the government, but supports its own gallery and exhibition activities by running different art education workshops.

The current exchange program, “Art Hotpot,” does not only initiate a platform for exchanges between Polish and Hong Kong artists, but also start up a bridge for the two alternative art spaces in Sopot and Hong Kong for further collaborative development in the future.


-As a platform for exchanges-

“Hotpot” is a dinning style embraced by a great number of Chinese everywhere in China. In hotpot, we all sit together in a round table as a union, cook together, eat together and chat together. The cultural and symbolic meaning of hotpot for the intimate exchanges amongst a group of friends is essential in this program. “Art Hotpot” will be a platform for the Hong Kong and Polish artists in this exchange program to experience art together, make art together, and chat about art together.

-"Hot" artworks-

Another important element in “Art Hotpot” is the “heat”: all artists are encouraged to make artworks that can generate heat or help burn calories. The winter in Sopot is definitely freezing cold. In such weather, heat generator should be a big hit for the public, and very useful for the artists, especially the Hong Kong artists who do not often experience such cold weather.

Beside this practical aspect, the symbolic meaning of this gesture is to stir up the passion for contemporary art amongst the public in the two places. As mentioned above, the general public in Poland and Hong Kong simply is engaged into contemporary art very much. The heat from “Art Hotpot” will take this attempt to melt down the “cold” wall between the public and contemporary art in both Sopot and Hong Kong. Even though Hong Kong people in March may not physically need too much heat, the heat energy will bring along an artistic sense for the public to care more about contemporary art.


Other than the “heat”, the artworks in “Art Hotpot” in both Sopot and Hong Kong will have an emphasis of interactivity. In Sopot, artists will make site-specific art piece. In Hong Kong, Hong Kong and Polish artists will try to respond to each other’s works and to the local community. Either the art-making process or the final installation art pieces will involve interactivity with the community or the audience in this program. Although the public in Sopot may not be very fluent in English, the site-specificity of the artworks certainly can provide a common ground for communication and exchanges between the audience and the artists.

-Chinese New Year-

Invited by MCKA, the first part of this exchange program will take place in Sopot during the Chinese New Year. Although the Chinese population in Sopot is not a very big number, it certainly forms a community. Since Chinese New Year is a time for Chinese to have a re-union with families and friends, MCKA would like to take this opportunity to celebrate this special date with the Chinese community in Sopot and to introduce artworks from China to its public. In the Chinese New Year in 2012, Hong Kong artists from China will be invited to have “Art Hotpot” with Polish artists together.

-Notes on Art Hotpot in Sopot (Part I)

On Jan 11, 2012, five Hong Kong artists, Cally Yu, Law Man-Lok, Lock Lo Chi-Kit, Gum Cheng and I (Clara Cheung), took off from Hong Kong airport for Sopot, Poland. It was an excellent group: everyone being easy-going, caring and with a sense of humor.

-History of Zatoka Sztuki-

"Zatoka Sztuki" is the name of the space founded by MCKA. (Image 1) It is Polish, meaning “Bay of Art.” Zatoka Sztuki is a three-storied architecture by the beach of Sopot. The first floor is a very decent restaurant, while the second and third floors are under renovation at the moment. Learning from an artist from Sopot, Kasia Swinarska, this location actually has a long history for the local community. Back in 1903, it was a bath place. Later in the 1970’s, it was reconstructed to be shops and discos. All the way along, many locals from the community would come to the area around this location, for it is next to the public park and the beach. It was a bit disappointing to see the whole building is being completely renovated with a very modern style, without revealing its history. Nevertheless, it is still an absolutely beautiful place. Sitting there for breakfast or a cup of coffee, facing the horizon of Baltic Sea, certainly is a surrealist experience. In fact, the whole Sopot is as surreal as the scenes from fairy tales.

Art exchange activities involved mainly, (1) an artist talk by Hong Kong artists, titled, “Art and Society in Hong Kong,” (2)an art exhibition with 5 Hong Kong artists and 9 Polish artists on the theme of “heat” and “hotpot,” and (3)Hong Kong artists visiting different Polish artist studios and art spaces.

-Artist Talk-

The artist talk focused on various problems about the usage of space in Hong Kong, and related artworks or art projects. The talk was started by Law Man asking, “Time is on our side, but how about space?” Showing images about contemporary Hong Kong’s condensed space in Central with all the city scrappers, Law Man pointed out while Hong Kong had more and more tall commercial buildings, Hong Kong also was having more and more units for slavery-like office workers to receive commands and orders. On the other hand, we are losing our autonomy in our space, and losing our “public space.” Different Hong Kong artists’ works or projects in response to this situation were then discussed, for example, the freedom ball campaign, Happy Action, various art events organized by C&G at the public space of West Kowloon, artworks by Luke Ching, Hung Fei, Tozer Pak, Ger Choi etc. Some of the audience actually found the materials presented in this talk to be quite meaningful, in a sense that it helped them see Hong Kong with an alternative perspective: other than the touristy and financial side. (image 2)

-Art Exhibition-

The art exhibit was not held in an "official" gallery setting, but the space of the 1st floor of Zatoka Sztuki was very well organized to show each one's works. Many of the pieces were done with materials or people from the area, and all participating artists either conceptually or physically involved "heat"in their artworks for the exhibition. Some artists used their own bodies to give out heat. Some used other media to give out heat. Some applied heat-related issues in their artworks. Some directly used heat to reveal different meanings. The followings are short descriptions of each piece:

1. Elvin Flamingo , Title: “Atomic Body – Natural Heat Transfer” (image 3,4)

Elvin Flamingo in this performance video art piece, addresses the planning of nuclear plants in Poland. (Please refer to this link for the video: This performance was conducted in nude in the morning of the opening day, on the Sopot beach in the freezing weather with 0-2°C. The video was then edited within one afternoon, and shown at the opening night by the window of Zatoka Sztuki, in front of the theatrical set for the performance on the beach. Besides watching the video, the viewer could also refer to the physical site of the performance outside of the window immediately. The aftermath of the actions from the day and the loneliness of the site in the snow at night was as shocking and powerful as the video itself.

Here is the statement from the artist:

“Location of the performance: The Sopot beach between entrances 18 and 19 (near Zatoka Sztuki); this is one of the best known vacation spots in Poland. It also mirrors one of the most beautiful beaches of the entire Polish coast - that in Lubiatowo between entrances 37 and 38 near Białogóra. The four white barrels symbolize the construction of four atomic reactors on the beach. The lampshades from the Sopot pier symbolize nothing - they remain lampshades from the Sopot pier located about 500 meters from the scene of the performance. The eight warmed-up bodies and the natural January coldness of the sea symbolize the cheapest technology for cooling the reactors with sea water. In other words, the sea naturally takes the heat generated by naked bodies, and the naked bodies smash the Sopot lampshades to absolute smithereens.

The action will play out with:

4 reactors

8 naked human bodies

24 lamp shades form the Sopot pier

the Sopot beach at entrance 18 (near Zatoka Sztuki)

the natural coolness of the sea

the heat of warmed-up bodies”

2. Katarzyna Podpora, Title: “or/zgrzewki z piaskiem – przedmioty do po/noszenia” (image 5,6)

Another artist Katarzyna Podpora packed a lot of sandbags with transparent plastic and sand from Sopot’s beach. As she was not muscular at all, she needed to start slowly carrying all the sand and packing a week before the opening. After days of sweaty hard work, she got about 40 sacks in different sizes. Although the bags do not look very big, they certainly were heavy. Each bag has a very handy handle for people to take home. In fact, the bags remind me of those home-packed meals from the old days. On the day of opening, the artist put all the bags in different sizes at the corner of Zatoka Sztuki by the public park. Instantly, some children at the park were interested in the bags, and started moving and carrying them around. My daughter actually associated the sandbags with grounded fish meat from Hong Kong’s fresh meat market.

3. Kamila Chomicz, Title: “MBIRA” (image 7)

Mbira is a box-like African musical instrument, and also is the title of the video work by Kamila Chomicz in this show. As stated by Kamila, this piece “is about burning. She “asked friends if they want to burn something from everyday life... Some of them bring shoes, umbrella, drawings, some cut the hairs and burn them with seabirds as witnesses, there seems to be many untold stories inside.” (link to the video:

4. Maciek Salamon, Title: “Czy tu jest pieklo?” (image 8,9)

Another artist, Maciek Salamon, associated “burning” with “hell.” He did a huge drawing (about 10 X 3 m) with black charcoal and oil pastel on the theme of hell on the wall inside Zatoka Sztuki. It was in a relatively raw style, with a rebellious touch. The drawing involves a lot of distorted animals, like a gigantic elephant stamped by a sword at the center, and even cartoon characters mimicking Mickey Mouse. Next to the elephant is a car with the plate number “666.” “In hell we trust” is another sentence hiding in this wall drawing.

5. Natalia Turczynska-Schmidt, "Philosophy of art for doubting" and "Philosophy of art for dummies" (image 10)

Natalia’s work is more conceptual and humorous. She listed out different art-related activities to help burn calories, and exhibited the framed list on wall for audience to read. It is, in face, a prefect association for the exhibition site, which is a restaurant and an art space at the same time.

One table showed calories you can burn while doing art activities, e.g:

Painting a picture - 400 kcal/h

Writing a novel with pen and paper - 90 kcal/h

Writing a novel on a computer - 80 kcal/h

Singing - 122 kcal/h

Playing a piano - 120 kcal/ 15min

The other one is for people who experience art, e.g:

Listening to music- 40kcal/h

Watching ballet performance - 140 kcal/h

Clapping hands - 140 kcla/h

Walking in a gallery/museum - 215 kcal/h (15 kcal/h more than normal walk)

6. Karolina Matea, Title: “Heaven and Hell” (image 11,12)

Karolina, who is also a jewellery designer, in consistent with her previous style, kept working with fine and handcrafted elements. She made about 100 paper fortune tellers with white paper for the audience to play at the opening. This paper game is called “Heaven and Hell” in Poland and is named “East, South, West and North” in Hong Kong. While most of the paper sculptures have blue and orange colors in the center representing heaven or hell, some actually have orange colors only.

7. Magda Malyjasiak, Title: “Wypowiedz Zyczenie” (image 13) Photographer, Magda Malyjasiak, interviewed nine people from Sopot, Gdansk and Hong Kong.about their dreams and took portrait photos of them, amongst them are Cally Yu, my daughter: Ning Shan, and myself. In the show, Magda exhibited the nine nicely printed and mounted photographes, in a 3 by 3 grid. This piece did not impress the audience with its size (with each photo about A5 size) nor special stories. However, the whole set has a fine and poetic touch. Posted on the wall next to the exist of Zatoku Sztuki, the photos attempted to remind the passersby about their own dreams also.

8. Justyna Stycha Orlowska I wspoltworcy, Title: “Koc przyjazni” (image 14,15)

Stycha Orlowska’s work was very warm and turned the art space into a homely place. Her project was to make a big quilt out of her friends’ clothes and had a picnic with all the friends on this quilt at the opening night, as a friendship hotpot. The multiple colors of the quilt was situated in front of Maciek’s black and white drawing, and formed an interesting contrast, both visually and concpetually, at the site. (More details can be found on her blog:

9. Gosia Kalinowska, Title: “Bez tytulu” (image 16,17)

Similar to Stycha’s work, Gosia Kalinowska’s piece also encouraged an interactivity with people in town in a more subtle fashion. Gosia had her work outdoor along the pathways, showing her lovely care of the community. She made a series of boxes for the public to put in warm garments for whoever in need to take. The box was in a bright redish- orange color, which stood out sharply in the winter with all the dark brown tree trunks or the snow.

10. Cally Yu, Title: “Falling Commas” (image 28,19)

Another artist who chose to insalled her piece outdoor was Cally Yu. Instead of clothing humans, she did that for a tree. She had been exploring the medium of knitting and crocheting recently, and this time, she crocheted 350 commas in the colors of different kinds of greens, black and white, to install on the tree in front of the entrance of Zatoka Sztuki. The size of the commas varied, but echoed to those of general tree leaves. The crochets actually signified different objects for different viewers. Some associated the crochets with babies while the others thought of seahorses. The works interested many passersby to pause and took a closer look, for it was quite surprising to see green colors on trees during the winter in Sopot.

11. Law Man Lok, Title: “Snow Monk”

Walking away from the intimacy from Cally Yu’s works, one could then see Lawman’s work installed next to the entrance’s window, which involved big fire. His piece was in response to the self-immolation of Tibetian Monks.

Sopot had heavy snow for more than a week during our stay. Seeing all the whites, Law Man had a plan to make a piece with snow: “The materials are originally planned to make snow objects as image attached (image 20). These snow objects will then be set along the beach of Sopot and become an installation. The plan is redesigned due to sudden warm weather.”

He wrote a poem, “SNOW MONK” --

Empty is in vain and no one is being blamed

Nihilists steal the core of Zen

Lift the heaviness of the Nothingness

Imagine there is no corpus

Glowing darkness is the fate of matches, while

Happiness carelessly got it self-immolated

Thus it have to be carefully buried

Empty is in vain when people vowed "Silence is sane."

Nothingness is no longer in pain, at least our spirit gains.

Moulding, burning, melting,

Embed those to comfort the inflamed soul

Not a statue not a tomb, I mix the rituals with snow. Now,

The wind blows and hollow got a hole.

Another version:

Commit suicide is the will to escape from the world by leaving

Self-immolation is the will to enlighten the world by staying

In this piece, I intended to mix up the rituals of making Buddha statue and cremation, in the name of art.”

The change of weather gave Lawman a huge challenge. In the end, instead of burning the snow sculptures, he redesigned his plan and set fire to burn the black tables with the names of the Tibetian Monks who died from self-immolation. The fire was set up to burn only a triangular shape of the table surface. The seventeen tables were set on fire all at once on Sopot’s beach, making an unforgettable scene (image 21). The burnt tables were then stacked up like a big grave and installed in Zatoka Sztuki by the window, facing the passersby. The table structure itself was interestingly revealing another hidden message: with the part of the surfaces burnt, and part of the honeycomb structure underneath revealed. (image 22,23)

12. Clara Cheung, Title: “A gift of Sopot's salt to prepare for the future Nuclear Disaster” (image 24,25)

While Lawman brought up issues outside of Sopot to show to the Polish audience, I, myself, reponded to the nuclear plants planning in Poland with Hong Kong people's experience. I painted a news report from internet, showing the panic buying of salt during the nuclear crisis after Fukushima tsunami, and gave out salt evaporated from Sopot’s seawater to the audience as gifts. On one hand, the panic buying may show the stupidity of Hong Kong people. On the other hand, it also is a sign of hopelessness of human beings in nuclear crisis. By giving out the salt gifts, I would like to share my worry about the planning of nuclear plants in Poland.

13. Lock Lo, Title: “Nocturne No.20 in C-hinese manner" (image 26,27)

Lock Lo’s work was very inviting and was engaing people from Sopot in a Hong Kong style, using the most popular medium for social gathering in Hong Kong: karaoke. He used a music program to set up a karaoke system of “Noctune No. 20” by Chopin, and invited Polish in Sopot to ‘sing’ the nocturne in public with him during the day. During the exhibit, he showed the video of him and different Poles singing together. The video looked surreal and was very funny to watch. It showed the characters having headphones on, looking at a computer and singing some notes that usually cannot be recognized. The backgrounds included outdoor scenes from Sopot, like the beautiful beach, traditional architectures from Sopot etc.

Here was his artist statement: “In this exhibition 'Hotpot', artists are required to make artworks that can generate heat. In fact, it is such a simple task for someone like me who suffer from social anxiety during blushing. Thus, I intend to create kind of an embarrassing performance situation: inviting strange Poles to 'sing' a nocturne in public with me in the daytime. Other than increasing temperature on one's face, blushing also appearing in red color, the luckiest color in chinese tradition. Happy new year of the dragon!”

14.Gum Cheng, Title: “Gum can dance in Poland II” (Photos by: Law Man Lok , Lo Chi Kit) (image 28,29) (

Another piece responding to the relaxing environment in Sopot was Gum Cheng’s stop-motion animation. Instead of singing, he “danced.” He took more than a hundred photographes of himself doing different poses learnt from a tranditional Polish dance. Here is his statement: “Gum, who is never into dancing, left behind his busy schedule in Hong Kong during January, 2012 and went to Sopot, Poland with his wife and the elder daughter for an art exchange programme. He spends a week there to do something and burn calories that only is possible in an extremely relaxing situation. In fact, even if one has the money or the time, s/he may not be willing to do so.”

The opening night (on 21 January, 2012) attracted quite a number of audience. Zatoka Sztuki’s organizers commented, “The number of visitors was more than our expectation. We were happy to see new faces, and even reporters from important art journals.” “Hotpot” in Chinese basically is a pot involving anything you like. In “Art Hotpot in Sopot,” we also had a lot of other related activities besides the exhibition, like Chinese lessons for Poles, Polish lessons for Chinese, Chinese new year party(image 30,31,32), art studio visits(image 33,34) etc. In March 2012, we will have the second part of this exchange program in Hong Kong, bringing art from Sopot to Hong Kong, and have another “hotpot” melting possibly everything together.

Special thanks to everyone supporting Art Hotpot (Part I) in Sopot:




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