Gallery recreates tiny living spaces

for The Brooklyn Paper
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If you think Brooklyn living is cramped, try Hong Kong or Japan.

Whimsical and ghostly sound sculptures at a Bushwick gallery recreate the experience of living in a tight space by combining intimate objects from real apartments with interviews with real-life residents.

“Jonathan & Muragishi,” an exhibition by artist Leung Chi Wo, not only illustrates how domestic spaces become infused with their inhabitants but also attempts to retrieve memories of the artistic community.

The exhibit’s title pertains to two deceased individuals Leung had previously interviewed — multimedia artist Hiroaki Muragishi and arts writer Jonathan Napack, who passed away at 40 and 22, respectively.

“Both Jonathan and Muragishi allowed me to visit their homes. I took photos and interviewed them about their living spaces,” said Leung, whose exhibit is up through March 15 at the International Studio & Curatorial Program.

In interviewing the artists, Leung hoped to show people’s psychological and physical adaptations to cramped domestic spaces in urban cities such as Hong Kong and Sapporo.

Perusing “Jonathan & Muragishi” is indeed an intimate experience. Viewers gain the sense of having been invited to someone’s home, without the luxury of space. Leung’s mixed media pieces merge the visual and the auditory. Each installation is a hodgepodge of objects embedded with speakers, which project soft voices that complain about lack of space or reminisce about cockatoos.

“Do I have enough space?” one recording says.

The voice heaves a deep sigh.

“I don’t have any choice.”

Although the exhibition is an ode to the deceased, Leung tried to stay detached from the dead.

Interviews between Leung and his subjects were transcribed and translated to provide distance. The scripts were presented to readers who had never heard the original recordings. This explains why some voices are female although both Jonathan and Muragishi were male.

“Since the original characters have been fictionalized through the process, gender doesn’t matter now,” said Leung.

New Yorkers may well relate to “Jonathan & Muragishi” as it addresses the frustration of living in cramped apartments. Although the gallery is spacious, the myriad objects tossed together connote the idea of living in a cramped environment.

“People always have to adapt to their surroundings. Otherwise, it’s move out or become miserable,” said Leung. “You often have a love-hate relationship with the city where you live. Hong Kong is such a dense place and I always wish we had something like Manhattan’s Central Park.”

Leung Chi Wo’s “Jonathan and Muragishi” at ISCP [1040 Metropolitan Ave. at Morgan Avenue, (718) 387–2900,]. Through March 15, Wed.–Sat. 10 am–6 pm $2 suggested donation.

Updated 10:08 pm, July 9, 2018
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