Yao Qingmei in “Bicycle Thieves” at Para Site, Hong Kong

Bicycle Thieves

Artists: Chang Yuchen, Luke Ching Chin Wai, Stephanie Comilang, Dark Fluid, Dries Depoorter, Display Distribute, Hong Kong Artist Union, Firenze Lai, Miao Jiaxin, Yunyu “Ayo” Shih, Eason Tsang Ka Wai, Andrew Norman Wilson, Wong Kit Yi, Lantian Xie, Xu Tan, Yao Qingmei  

Curator: Hanlu Zhang

Exhibition Dates: 2019.06.29 – 09.01

Exhibition Venue: Para Site, Hong Kong


Bicycle Thieves is interested in the fine line between sharing and stealing. Paying tribute to the eponymous Italian neorealist film in which a worker spends all his family savings to buy the bicycle needed for a new job but ends up losing the bike at the hands of a thief on his first day of work, the group exhibition extends the film’s concern to a contemporary context and highlights individuals’ precarious status as situated within increasingly tricky relations to various institutions and systems.

Whether in post-World War II Italy or post-internet China, bicycles epitomise the relationships between humans and the technical object as means of production. Labour is at stake here because it is an everyday form of public participation for each one of us. As both a platform for sharing and a den for bandits, Bicycle Thieves seeks to discuss the relations between labour and technology not only in digital economies, but also within the service sector, domestic work and contemporary art. More than one of the participating artists experiment with the unusual concept of “artist as service provider”, exploring subversive potentials within both the private domain and the realm of the imaginary.

Looking from the perspective of Hong Kong, there is a sense of uncertainty and crisis from the crossroads at which the city finds itself. Confronted simultaneously by global capitalism and the dubious Hong Kong mainland relationship, we are intertwined with leviathan infrastructures and conflicting systems. Now that the intimacies between technology and power centralisation are widely acknowledged, how do we re-evaluate the labour of organising, the network and collective processes? Is it possible to borrow, appropriate and even re-invent technologies? With these questions in mind, Bicycle Thieves invites practitioners from various backgrounds to envision possibilities for alternative systems and diverse technological futures.

Zhang Hanlu’s curatorial proposal for Bicycle Thieves was chosen from an international pool of submissions made as part of Para Site’s annual Emerging Curators programme, now in its fifth year. The programme offers full access to the institution’s resources and network, in supporting the development and presentation of the curator’s exhibition on site.