Akeroyd Collection


Samson Young, We are the World, as performed by the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions Choir (Muted Situation #21), 2017

For We are the World, as performed by the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions Choir, Samson Young reached out to The Kwan Sing Choir, a recreational ensemble under the ‘Workers’ Club’ at the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (HKFTU) and asked them if they would perform the 1985 We are the World charity single.HKFTU is ‘a pro-labour and pro-Beijing group founded in 1948 in Hong Kong. It is the largest labour group in Hong Kong with over 390,000 members in 189 affiliates and 62 associated trade unions. It currently commands five seats in the Legislative Council of Hong Kong and 29 District Councillors. For Young, the idea of the charity single is an anachronistic artefact of modern history. Their occasional reboots in contemporary culture seem strange and out of time. Not only in their sense of political purpose and ethical considerations but also in their ability to generate support and revenue as they once might have. This is a symptom, perhaps, of the changing nature of the media landscape and the technological nature of our media consumption. The myriad juxtapositions in this work are instructive; the pro-China labour organization, for whom charity would be seen as evidence of a capitalist failure of social provision, singing a song to raise money. The outdated techniques of the entertainment industry to capture the attention of a public. The Western world’s wealthiest entertainers (Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie wrote the song) asking the general public for money, and this new version was performed by a workers Union. These paradoxes are heightened by the familiar technique, first used in Young’s ‘Muted Situation’ series, of removing the voice of the performers, leaving only the sounds of their breaths between vocalisation, and the movement of their bodies. The very thing that secured our attention – the affective and rousing music – is removed to reveal the body at work, its cause now ambiguous.

Medium8 channel sound installation, carpet, 10 vintage theatre chairs, acoustic panels, 1 round spotlight
Duration5 minutes 26 seconds
Editionof 5 + 1 AP