Super Warm is a 100-meter long ‘scarf’ made from hundreds of old and new clothes wrapped around the fences of the West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade. Stephanie Sin, an artist with a studio painting practice who has never made public art before, conceptualized the fences as panel units and worked with the color and touch of the fabric to come up with the work. Making prominent the tactile and sensuous qualities of fluidity and warmth, the work affirms the commissioning organization Make A Difference (MaD)’s vision – “Let’s Own It!”, to open up the site for public ownership that is concrete, specific, and intimate.
To make Super Warm, Sin sought donation of clothes from the public via social media, starting from her own circle of friends in and outside of art. In doing so, Sin began to engender multiple mini-publics, activating their imagination of the idea of public art. She then had them sewn together in her studio. On site, Super Warm became a shelter from the wind for those participating in the programme “$0 SQ/FT”, which allowed for 260 creative units to show and share their creative talents at the promenade at no cost over four days. Super Warm was exhibited for another four weeks.
Presenting unwanted (not necessarily old) clothes as vehicles of emotions in public produces another way of imagining how art makes culture. Sin observes that in Hong Kong, the imperative to buy new clothes is motivated not by need, but by the privileged status of the new – at work are deliberate policies of compulsory obsolescence regulating the consumerist society aiming to sell surplus production.
By figuring the bodily warmth of many anonymous people between land and sea, Super Warm situates the citizens of Hong Kong in a different possibility of coming together not by the systematic fetishization of a promise in the name of art, but by freeing art and showing it to be real presences.
All copyright belongs to Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, Shanghai University.