top of page

Shirley Tse's "Stakes and Holders" 

After debuting at the 58th Venice Biennale's Hong Kong pavilion, Playcourt (2019–20) and Negotiated Differences (2019–20) were presented in Tse's solo show at Hong Kong's M+ Pavilion.

A match on Shirley Tse’s badminton-inspired Playcourt (2019–20) installation could involve two, 30, or any number of players. They could choose to compete or cooperate with each other. They might keep score, or not. There are no apparent rules; there isn’t a singular narrative. Instead, the work’s wildly varied components—including metal bleachers, a vanilla-pod-studded shuttlecock, and other sculptures made of manufactured and organic items, each with a multitude of possible significances—suggest notions of multiplicity and improvised play as means for bucking hegemonic mechanisms. The thematic importance of cacophony and the interactions between disparate elements were amplified by the amateur radio channels broadcast on the pavilion’s terrace as a “[response] to the increasingly stringent control of the public domain,” in curator Christina Li’s words, as well as the show’s other installation, Negotiated Differences (2019–20), a sprawling network comprising turned wooden pieces of all shapes and sizes.

Yet, for all its emphasis on the radical potentials of finding interconnectivity within heterogeneity, “Stakes and Holders” is not hopeful. As the title of the latter work implies, the meeting of different forces requires negotiation. My experience at the exhibition reflected this. As I read the show guide about Tse’s ludic proposition for the reclamation of public spaces, an overzealous team of security guards and attendants pointedly monitored my every move, bringing to mind the authoritarian powers bearing down on dissentient behaviors. The show reminded me that we are all stakeholders, but some of us have a harder fight to the table than others. CC


This article was originally published on as part of a roundtable review.

Chloe Chu

bottom of page