All posts filed under: City

Speculative Cartography

By Gerhard Bruyns and Peter Hasdell On Exactitude in Science: In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. Succeeding Generations… came to judge a map of such Magnitude cumbersome… In the western Deserts, tattered Fragments of the Map are still to be found, sheltering an occasional Beast or beggar; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography. Purportedly from Travels of Prudent Men by Suárez Miranda, Book Four, Chapter XLV, Lérida, 1658; from A Universal History of Infamy by Jorge Luis Borges, 1935 Jorge Luis Borges’ On Exactitude in Science examines as speculative instruments the applications, skills and techniques of cartography, and can be understood as a critique both of …

Gerard d’Alton Henderson

A Total Embrace By Alexandra A Seno In the autumn of 1963, a new luxury hotel opened in the heart of Hong Kong’s Central district. The 27-floor Mandarin Oriental boasted state-of-the-art amenities such as the city’s first phone system that allowed guests to make direct calls to outside numbers, and switchboard operators to activate an in-room light informing occupants of missed calls. Befitting such a cosmopolitan operation, the hotel’s owners chose an artist based in Spain to create the property’s most prominent features. A rising star with a growing international following, he was of European and Chinese descent, and seemed to have just the right style for the large, dramatic murals in the lobby and the Mandarin Grill restaurant, as well as mosaics for the rooftop swimming pool area. This is how most of Hong Kong was first introduced to Gerard d’Alton Henderson. In the final two decades of British rule, Henderson — who was born in Malaysia and grew up in Singapore — was the artist to know in the Crown Colony. The best households had to …

Hi! Houses A rejuvenation of Hong Kong heritage

In Hong Kong many heritage buildings have been destroyed or neglected, and the government has only had a heritage-preservation policy since very recently. Its Art Promotion Office invited four Hong Kong artists to revitalise four centuries-old houses in different corners of the territory, using art as a subtle but powerful tool to link the past with the present and revive collective memory. The exhibitions recall in particular the Hakka heritage of Hong Kong, the commercial prosperity of the city during the 19th century and its role during the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty through the figure of Sun Yat-sen. All the heritage buildings connect Hong Kong with the history of China from different perspectives, at a time when the question of identity is particularly strongly contested. The artists’ research involved meeting descendants of the clans, neighbours, guards and village elders, in order to collect micro-histories, which they mixed with their own stories and historical events. They thus became storytellers, weaving fiction and reality to transform archives, empty walls and facts into vivid contemporary experiences. The cultural heritage consists not …

There are no misinterpretations of nothing

By Winnie Lai Artist Tsang Kin Wah represented Hong Kong in last year’s Venice Biennale and has brought home a continuation of his quest for life’s ultimate meaning at the M+ Pavilion. This time the exhibition programme also includes the Misguided Tours, in which three curators who have previously worked with Tsang shared their alternative interpretations of the work. After The Infinite Nothing in Venice, nothing in Hong Kong takes the artist’s attempt to realise endlessness and perpetuity to another level. This time he wants to visualise and present nothingness: a personal visualisation of being under a nihilistic spell, and a manifestation of responses to realising the futility of life. It isn’t a straightforward or light-hearted work to digest. The Misguided Tours are an effort to counter the idea that there is an official way to understand art. Everyone has a blind spot; other people’s perspectives can dispel preconceptions and expand the understanding of a work. Tsang, a fan of Nietzsche, who famously said that ‘There are no facts, only interpretations’, would agree. nothing is the first show at the M+ Pavilion, …

Mill6

Warm Up, the latest programme organised by non-profit art organisation Mill6 Foundation, had some ambitious objectives: revitalising handicrafts, passing on Hong Kong’s cultural heritage, fostering neighbourhood connections, bridging the gap between generations, and reviving knowledge of textiles and garments. Caroline Ha Thuc speaks to the foundation’s director Angelika Li and curator Him Lo. What was your vision for the event, and how do you deal with so many topics and communities at the same time? Angelika Li: Mill6 is a unique establishment. It was once a factory space for textiles, and we are rejuvenating it to become, by 2018, a space for textile arts and culture, heritage and innovation. We are developing six different programmes and approaches: exhibitions, community engagement, learning, heritage, artist-in-residency and public art. We also have several different target audiences, as well as different partners and collaborators. With each project we must therefore consistently ask the questions: What are the purpose and the meaning? What cause does it serve? How can we be sustainable? What are the inherent values? Our focus is clearly …

A portrait of the artist as an emergency

In January 2016 Patrick Healy, Amsterdam based philosopher and artist, was invited by the School of Design [The Hong Kong Polytechnic University], to conduct a series of PhD and research seminars. With Patrick in Hong Kong for 3 weeks, and knowing him for a number of years, it provided us an ideal opportunity to – not only – reminisce about old times but use the lunch time discussion to understand how his philosophical position, artistic research and personal interest intersect. The following discussion was the result of this discussion exposing the man behind the philosopher in the process of becoming himself. By Gerhard Bruyns Artomity: You’re a philosopher, performance artist, painter, sculptor, educator and writer. When and how did you get the idea of combining art and philosophy? Patrick Healy: Well, during my studies of philosophy – at almost the very end of my formal studies – we started reading Nietzsche. In itself that was considered very daring because my teachers mostly specialised in metaphysics and medieval and ancient philosophy. So it was almost like …

A Vision in ink

Following the success of the inaugural Ink Asia fair last year, expectations for the second edition are high. Artomity talked to its director Calvin Hui about the cultural aspirations and market vision driving the world’s first art fair dedicated to modern and contemporary ink. By Charlotte Chang What was the concept behind creating a fair specialising in ink art?  From the beginning I was not only concerned about the market but also strove to define a mission. I have long been a collector and lover of contemporary ink, because I think ink is the most important language of our cultural tradition. But I felt that resources in this field in China were often not put to good use. The DNA of ink culture – its core spirit – is in our blood as Chinese people. I knew that this shared cultural understanding would allow a fair dedicated to ink to build a very strong connection with the audience. I believed that, coupled with the steadily increasing popularity of ink art in the region, commercial success would follow. How does Ink …

Gender Matters

By Ellen Oredsson “I’m so happy you can see that this is really an exhibition about gender,” says curator Tang Ying Chi when I speak to her about What Do You Want For Tomorrow?, currently on display at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. Although all 12 participating artists, including curators Tang and Wong Wo Bik, are women, only one of them refers directly to gender issues in her work. Part of the fourth annual Hong Kong International Photo Festival, the exhibition showcases a variety of subject matter, rapidly shifting in tone and medium. A Hong Kong perspective is woven through it: Zoe Chu Wing Man’s Tin Ha Tai Ping features cinematic photographs of urban landscapes covered in drawings lit up like neon signs, while Gretchen So’s Ten Thousand Messages couples her shots of deserted areas of Hong Kong with online discussions to create community engagement. Gender, as an issue, is almost invisible. Tang’s work is, of course, the exception. It’s not the first time she has addressed gender in the art world, having organised female-focused exhibitions …

Broken histories, bright futures: Ernest Chang and the Blue House.

By Margot Mottaz Photographer Ernest Chang and the Blue House share more than addresses along Stone Nullah Lane in Wanchai: they both overcame troubled pasts that could have cost them their existence. The former has emerged stronger and ever more tenacious after recovering from drug addiction, but the latter is still in the process of making a full recovery. The story begins in the 1920s, when a four-storey tenement building, or tong lau, was erected at 72 Stone Nullah Lane, replacing what was once the district’s first hospital. Over the years it housed a martial-arts school run by a former pupil of kung fu master Wong Fei-hung, and then an osteopathy clinic, always with a few residential units on the upper floors. Accidentally painted royal blue during maintenance in the 1990s by workers who only had the Water Supplies Department’s blue paint to hand, the building was named accordingly. Today, though temporarily moved for the duration of the renovation, a charity shop and an exhibition space, House of Stories, occupy the ground floor, while eight families live upstairs. …

Hong Kong in the 1970s

By John Batten I remember the 1970s as a smoky-hazy, evolving time, with a generation gap opening up between World War II/Depression-era parents, and teenagers experiencing the overhang from the previous decade, the dreamy 60s. Hong Kong in the 1970s was caught in some of the overhang. In the early years of the decade the Vietnam War’s destruction continued, and its aftermath would continue for decades, with boatloads of refugees arriving in Hong Kong; and China’s Cultural Revolution and its “struggle sessions” murderously justified retribution between the classes and China’s competing political factions – until it ended with Mao Zedong’s death in 1976. Meanwhile, Hong Kong was an active and important interface for Cold War posturing. It was a highly militarised place, with countless docks,barracks, airfields and spy-listening facilities scattered around the “territory” – all now,ironically, occupied by the People’s Liberation Army. Naval cruisers, destroyers and aircraft carriers of the western powers regularly pulled into Victoria Harbour for refuelling or a wild period of R&R. Only vestiges of that time survive: Tsim Sha Tsui’s Red …