Cotton in the Ears, Furball in the Throat is Hong Kong artist Nicole Wong’s (b. 1990) third solo exhibition with Rossi & Rossi. Working beyond a single medium, Wong’s practice investigates the tenuous connections between words, objects, and image, inviting introspective reflection through the exploration of ideas such as failure, hope, and miscommunication. Central to the theme of this exhibition this time is both a yearning for comfort – a sentiment that many of us experienced throughout the pandemic – and the feeling of uneasiness about being inches away from it.
On view is a new series of lenticular prints titled But What Happens When Skin Falls? (2021). In each work, the artist overlaps images of handwashing with images of hand-created shadow puppets. For Wong, having to keep hands clean during the pandemic became a recurring motif, and these repeated motion is as if an ombromanie ritual one performs before any form of physical engagement. While the title of the series points to a potential gruesome end from all the handwashing, it can also be seen as a senseless question asked by an impatient child. Through this arrangement, Wong alludes to the psychological regression that human beings experience during a time of crisis.
Also on view is The Institution of International Blue (2017). The work consists of nine poems, each typed on a single sheet of paper and pinned neatly on a blue bulletin board. In researching different forms of language, Wong discovered that, despite having a much limited vocabulary, the accuracy and exactitude of sign language is on par with spoken language. To explore this gap between forms of language, the artist interprets and translates the nuance of gestures into poems by using the hand signs of the colour blue from different countries as the starting visual prompt. Seen together in a single bulletin, each poem and hand-sign pair points to the impossibilities of language and the relationship between a sign and its meaning.