BY Emily Verla Bovino in Reviews | 05 FEB 21

Don't Cry in the Morning: Art Toys in the Post-Colony

At Streams, Hong Kong, what was once the region's centre of toy manufacturing becomes a trippy tumble into a world of toxic teddies and sadistic Care Bears 

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BY Emily Verla Bovino in Reviews | 05 FEB 21

With its fortune-cookie head and baked-dough body, Fuku (2017) – designed by artist duo Don’t Cry in the Morning (DCITM) – is the Hong Kong diaspora’s cookie monster. DCITM launched in 2013 when co-founders ASA and Poppy began casting resin toys from polymer clay models based on their illustrations. Currently showing at Streams Hong Kong, ‘Hugger Fuku Town’ follows the duo’s more comprehensive 2017 exhibition at Streams Beijing, focusing on large and small versions of Fuku with a smoother body, simplified head and added ‘gummy’ companion.

ASA DCITM
Don't Cry In The Morning, 'Hugger Fuku Town', 2021, customized artwork by ASA, exhibition view, Streams, Hong Kong. Courtesy: the artists and Streams, Hong Kong

More an artist agency than a gallery, Streams occupies a 1980s industrial complex built when Hong Kong was the centre of toy manufacturing, before factories moved to the mainland. Selling one-off, limited-edition toys, Streams operates in what its creative director, Bosco Yau, describes to me as ‘a culture not a trend’.

Hugger Fuku Family (2021) is the size of a large plush toy. Hugger & Gummy Fuku (2019) fits in the hand. DCITM’s limited-edition versions of these characters are complemented by 35 one-off variants by other artists the duo invited to collaborate. Such a format is common in the indie toy world.

don't cry in the morning streams
Don't Cry In The Morning, 'Hugger Fuku Town', 2021, customized artwork by various artists, exhibition view, Streams, Hong Kong. Courtesy: the artists and Streams, Hong Kong

In I Love Peyote (2021), Hexactus, a colourist renowned for airbrush technique, covers Hugger Fuku Family in rainbow waves. Luke Smells Good, known for toys of dicks and tits, transfixes his giant ‘cocky’ Fuku – Acid Bear (2021) – in self-pleasure: its protruding eyes are literal ‘dickheads’ with sloppy grins that recall the Cantonese profanity ‘hard plastic’ (slang for ‘stupid dick’).

Hexactus also worked on a Hugger & Gummy Fuku one-off titled 樂天唔喊餅 (Lote’s Cry-less, 2021) for its camouflage as the Japanese cookie-snack Koala’s March. Meanwhile, in 桃福KU (Tou fuKU, 2021), artist Tonight Maybe by Merry paints Hugger with black and white dairy-cow markings, then dresses it in a handmade cat suit: the small, purple Gummy peers out of a zippered pouch in the back of Hugger’s pink fur.

don't cry in the morning hugger
Don't Cry In The Morning, Hugger Fuku Family, 2021, installation view, Streams, Hong Kong. Courtesy: the artists and Streams, Hong Kong

Accompanying this trippy tumble into a world of toxic teddies and sadistic Care Bears is a disquieting, looped soundtrack of mouth organ and banjo. Collectively, DCITM and friends playfully craft the fantasies and nightmares of the postcolonial condition.

Don't Cry In The Morning's 'Hugger Fuku Town' continues at Streams, Hong Kong, until 28 February 2021. 

Main image: Don't Cry In The Morning, 'Hugger Fuku Town', 2021, customized artwork by various artists, exhibition view, Streams, Hong Kong. Courtesy: the artists and Streams, Hong Kong

Emily Verla Bovino is an artist and art historian based in Hong Kong.

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