A display of porcelain books of various sizes, placed on a green surface.

Annie Lai-kuen Wan, Lost in Biliterate and Trilingual,2014. © Annie Lai-kuen Wan.

Annie Lai-kuen Wan, Lost in Biliterate and Trilingual

Year: 2014
Medium: Porcelain
Dimensions: Variable (18 small book-sized sculptures)
Brief biography: b. 1961 Hong Kong. Lives and works in Hong Kong


Lost in Biliterate and Trilingual exhibited at the Harmonious Society, the largest exhibition of work by Chinese artists in the UK  and part of the Asia Triennial Manchester 2014, curated by Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art. The work was displayed at the John Rylands Library, Manchester.

The title of this artwork refers to the biliterate and trilingual policy adopted by the Hong Kong government after the Handover of the territory from the United Kingdom to China in 1997. As a consequence, Cantonese, English and Mandarin all feature in Hong Kong daily life.  Born and based in Hong Kong, artist Annie Lai-kuen Wan has created ceramic copies of dictionaries used by her friends and herself in order to navigate this unique linguistic situation. Made from moulds taken from the reference books, bent spines, battered corners and creased covers are faithfully captured, indicating the extent of the owner’s usage and reliance on such tools of learning. However, these reproductions cannot be opened and contain none of the original content. This juxtaposition combined with the fragile medium of porcelain raise the issue of present and future identity for the artist, whilst evoking nostalgia and prompting consideration of our own relationships with inanimate objects.

Annie obtained her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Fine Arts Department of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She is now Lecturer of Academy of Visual Arts of the Hong Kong Baptist University.