Video still in which workers wearing blue shirts and sitting on either side of a production line in a factory hold different vaguely dance-like poses. One woman in the foreground reaches for a cardboard box in the production line while the man next to her stretches his arm in an exaggerated motion to affix something to a white object.

What Is the ‘Expanded Field’ of Contemporary Design?

What is design ‘in the expanded field’? Below, Noel Cheung, M+ Curatorial Assistant, Design and Architecture, explains this concept through two works by Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen.

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London-based artists Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen’s practice explores a contemporary culture of design, technology, and biology through experimental ‘fictional’ projects. Their work investigates the roles of art and design today and directly addresses relevant social and cultural issues, from fragmented labour and modes of manufacturing in Asia, to resource extraction and ecological conservation.

Clip from a soundless monochrome film. A man on crutches walks in front of a protest crowd holding a large banner. The man and the crowd appear to be yelling slogans.

The Story of Chi Xiaoning and His Smuggled Camera

This is a story about underground film-making, radical art, and censorship. In 1979, Chi Xiaoning created his Film of Star Group Activities of 1979. It is the only known video documenting the radical activities of the Stars Group, an avant-garde group of artists from China who championed individuality and freedom of expression. The only copy of the footage is in the M+ Collections.

Below, film-maker Andy Cohen, whose 2020 film Beijing Spring showcases portions of the footage, tells the story behind Chi Xiaoning’s daring film-making during a period that was still subject to severe censorship in favour of official propaganda art. Beijing Spring will be showcased as part of an upcoming M+ Screenings programme.

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Suspended sculpture of a light brown mountain. The mountain's edges appear like cliffs and stairways lead to a series of buildings on the top.

Quiz: Can You Guess the Artwork Material?

Contemporary art and design are incredibly varied in the unique materials that they make use of. The M+ Collections is no exception: They contain a lot of diverse and occasionally strange materials that one might not readily associate with art-making.

Take this quiz to see if you can recognise the main materials used in ten artworks and design objects from the M+ Collections.

Take other visual culture quizzes on M+ Stories!


Image at top of post: Liu Wei, Don’t Touch!, 2010. M+ Sigg Collection, Hong Kong. By donation. © Liu Wei

Monochrome video still of a man and woman sitting opposite each other at a small table. They are holding hands. A third person holds a clapperboard in front of them and holds it open, ready to clap it shut.

‘Everything Goes Wrong for the Poor Couple’: An Artistic Partnership

Readers voted to feature this work in the series From the Collections.

Everything Goes Wrong for the Poor Couple (2010) by Kwan Sheung Chi and Wong Wai Yin is a video artwork narrating the tragic events in the life of a husband and wife, played by the artists.

The work is inspired by old-style Cantonese melodramas and movies from the 1950s and 1960s, particularly the 1952 film Everything Goes Wrong for the Poor Couple, directed by Ng Wui. The title of the film was extracted from a classic Chinese poem An Elegy II, written by prominent Tang Dynasty Chinese poet Yuan Zhen. In this mournful verse, the poet expressed deep sorrow and yearning after the death of his beloved wife, who previously shared a hard life with him. The last line of the poem reads: ‘This is a sorrow that all mankind must know / But not as those know it who have been poor together.’ After thousands of years, the last line of this poem has become a proverb with a widely accepted interpretation: couples in poverty are doomed to live a miserable life—‘everything goes wrong for the poor couple’.