Longitudes

Archive of Cover Story (April): "Beneath the Connaught Road West flyover, Hong Kong, 19 January 2013"

This past March we launched our re-designed website, which includes improved features as well as new sections such as "cover story" on our home page: a monthly focus on an artwork, artist, book, site or trip we've experienced in our recent past, accompanied by a short text.  

Our April Cover Story titled "Beneath the Connaught Road West flyover, Hong Kong, 19 January 2013" looked back at the first 'Incidents of Travel' tour led by artist Nadim Abbas, part of our month residency at Spring Workshop. 

We recommend reading the text while listening to this field recording we made on the very same spot!


Related content:

Cover Story #1: Wilfredo Prieto's work "Grease, Soap, Banana" (2 April 2015)
New re-designed website now online! (25 February 2015) 
Witte de With and Spring Workshop's 'Moderation(s)' publication 'End Note(s)' is out! (5 March 2015).
Nadim Abbas' "Incidents of Travel: Hong Kong" public tour (19 January 2013)
Archive of social media posts related to "Incidents of Travel" tours and photo-documentation.
Interview between Christina Li and Latitudes on 'Incidents of Travel' for Witte de With's 'Witness to Moderation(s)' blog (7 May 2013)

13 field recordings from 'Incidents of Travel: Hong Kong'


This is the blog of the independent curatorial office Latitudes. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
All photos:
Latitudes | www.lttds.org (except when noted otherwise in the photo caption).
Work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Witte de With and Spring Workshop's 'Moderation(s)' publication 'End Note(s)' is out!

Cover and backcover of 'End Note(s)'.


'End Note(s)' is finally out! The publication marks the conclusion of two years of residencies, discussions, editorial and exhibition projects within the framework of 'Moderation(s)', a multiform collaboration between Hong Kong's Spring Workshop and Rotterdam's Witte de With, steered by Singaporean artist and curator Heman Chong

Latitudes participation took place in January 2013 with a month-long residency at Spring Workshop, Hong Kong, and with the production of "Incidents of Travel": an invitation extended to four Hong Kong-based artists – Nadim Abbas, Ho Sin Tung, Yuk King Tan and Samson Young – to develop day-long tours, thus retelling the city and each participant’s artistic concerns through personal itineraries and waypoints. 

As announced a few months ago, Latitudes has contributed to the publication with a visual essay documenting each of the artists' itineraries accompanying them with a revised and reedited version of the May 2013 conversation with curator Christina Li (Moderation(s)' witness). 

 
 Section of the book (pp. 61–89) dedicated to Latitudes' "Incidents of Travel". Here the names of the artists and the locations visited during each of their tours.

Itinerary and photo-documentation of Nadim Abbas' tour on 19 January 2013.


(Above and below) Itinerary and photo-documentation of Yuk King Tan's tour on 24 January 2013.

 Itinerary and photo-documentation of Ho Sin Tung's tour on 29 January 2013.


(Above and below) Itinerary and photo-documentation of Samson Young's tour, 7 February 2013.

Reedited version of a conversation with curator Christina Li – Moderation(s)' witness – originally published on Witte de With's blog dedicated to the project. 

Here's an excerpt of our conversation with Christina:

Christina Li: The artists' tours were meant for you both to converse privately with each selected artist while getting to know their practices and the city. Did the public aspect of the Nadim Abbas' tour and your experience of the commercial tours suggest a different perspective of how the format could function from your initial perception? How has this attempt challenged your thinking in mediating and presenting the immediate experience and documentation of these tours to a larger audience?

Latitudes: Although the commercial tours were taking place regularly by prior arrangement, we happened to be the only participants on each of the days [Feng Shui tour and Tour of the Devil's Peak]. We tried to keep the artist tours casual and inconspicuous, and to respect the notion of hospitality and privacy in the same way that if we came to your house for dinner, you would not expect us to bring a group of strangers with us. In fact, the day with Yuk King Tan concluded with a household of Filipina domestic workers making food for us – women whose trust and friendship she had earned through her personal affiliations and the concerns of her art. In this case it would obviously have been completely inappropriate and something of a human safari to bring along an audience. 



Visiting Waterfall Bay with Nadim Abbas was part of the public tour on 19 January 2013. Photo: Trevor Yeung.

But we had no desire to make the days exclusive or private as if they were some kind of bespoke tourist service. Other people sometimes joined for parts of the days if the artist had suggested it, yet the main point of emphasis was our commitment to the tour in lieu of the typically brief studio visit and a situation in which the artist has had ownership of planning the whole day. If there would be definitely something like an audience present throughout (that might expect to be engaged or come and go) the dynamics and the logistics would have changed.

The artist tours were conceived from the point of view of research, and we have been reluctant to burden the artists or overload the format to the degree that they become durational artworks or somehow theatrical. We are not particularly focused on tidying up whatever their ontological status as art might be and likewise we have deliberately not just invited artists whose work has a clear sympathy with performative, urban research or an obvious relation with sociability or place.  We feel it is important that the format is quite malleable to the personality of each artist and that in the same way that you might browse a newspaper or share a car journey with somebody, the tours do not require a wider audience to legitimize them. In the same sense they have not necessarily required documentation to make them valid. However, we have been increasingly interested in the idea of reportage or live broadcast in terms of the ‘making of’ or ‘artist at work’ genre, while at the same time being really wary about our own positions as protagonists and photographs that might seem like they belong in a travel magazine.

The tours in Mexico City took place during five consecutive days right after our arrival, so the way we shared the photographic material was more direct via our Facebook page at the end of each day. The exhibition at Casa del Lago opened only two days after we concluded the last tour, so we had to come up with a straightforward display form. For each tour the photographer Eunice Adorno had accompanied us and in the end we projected a selection of 200 of her images as a slideshow, and displayed a few of them printed on the wall alongside a large map of the city with pins locating the sites we visited. We also had printed itineraries, written by the artists, so anyone could later follow the routes themselves if they so desired. 



Visiting the Espacio Escultórico at U.N.A.M. with Jerónimo Hagerman, one of the five tours around Mexico City in September 2012. Photo: Eunice Adorno.

In Hong Kong we were using Twitter, Instagram, and Vine during the tours, so it was an experiment in documentation-on-the-fly and live journaling which was open to real-time responses. We also made a series of one-minute field recordings. The tweets were archived soon after alongside these recordings, as well as related Facebook posts. We also published blog posts about each of the tours which included many photographs (by us and others) alongside paragraphs from the artists’ itineraries. This might seem to highlight merely mundane technical aspects of the project but it also heightened our interest in further exploring the idea of the curatorial bandwidth beyond exhibition making, something we continued to investigate in following projects such as #OpenCurating.


'End Note(s)' Colophon:

Concept: Heman Chong
Editors: Defne Ayas, Mimi Brown, Heman Chong, Amira Gad, Samuel Saelemakers
Contributors: A Constructed World, Nadim Abbas, Defne Ayas, Oscar van den Boogaard, Mimi Brown, Heman Chong, Chris Fitzpatrick, Amira Gad, Travis Jeppesen, Latitudes, Christina Li, Guy Mannes-Abbott, Samuel Saelemakers, Aaron Schuster
Copy Editors: Janine Armin, Marnie Slater
Production: Amira Gad, Samuel Saelemakers, Heman Chong
Design: Kristin Metho
Printer: Koninglijke Van Gorcum
Publisher: Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art Rotterdam, the Netherlands

ISBN: 978-94-9143-529-4

 
RELATED CONTENT:
  
First week of the "Moderation(s)" residency at Spring Workshop, Hong Kong (17January 2013) 

Nadim Abbas' "Incidents of Travel: Hong Kong" public tour (19 January 2013) 

"Temple and Feng Shui Tour", a guided walk around Hong Kong Island & Kowloon (22 January 2013)

Ho Sin Tung "Incidents of Travel: Hong Kong" tour (30 January 2013)

Yuk King Tan's "Incidents of Travel: Hong Kong" tour (3 February 2013)


Tour of Devil's Peak and the Museum of Coastal Defence (6 February 2013)

Samson Young's "Incidents of Travel: Hong Kong" tour (7 February 2013)


Latitudes' Open Day at Spring Workshop on 2 February 2013 (9 February 2013)

"Archive as Method: An Interview with Chantal Wong, Hammad Nasar and Lydia Ngai" of the Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong. Concluding #OpenCurating interview (1 May 2013)


"Digression(s), Entry Point(s): An interview with Heman Chong", Singapore-based artist, curator and writer. Eighth in the #OpenCurating research series. (4 April 2013)

Archive of social media posts related to "Incidents of Travel" tours and photo-documentation.


13 field recordings from 'Incidents of Travel: Hong Kong' 

Witte de With opens the group show "The Part In The Story Where A Part Becomes A Part Of Something Else" on May 22, 2014 (21 April 2014)

Interview between Christina Li and Latitudes on 'Incidents of Travel' for Witte de With's 'Witness to Moderation(s)' blog (7 May 2013)
 
 
This is the blog of the independent curatorial office Latitudes. Follow us on Facebook and @LTTDS.
All photos:
Latitudes | www.lttds.org (except when noted otherwise in the photo caption).
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Witte de With opens the group show "The Part In The Story Where A Part Becomes A Part Of Something Else" on May 22, 2014

Anthony Marcellini, "The Object In And Of Itself", 2011. Courtesy the artist and Witte de With, Rotterdam.

The group exhibition "The Part In The Story Where A Part Becomes A Part Of Something Else", opening on 22 May at Rotterdam's Witte de With brings a conclusion to "Moderation(s)", the long-term multifarious programme that began in August 2012 with a teaser event at Spring Workshop, Hong Kong, co-partner of the initiative. 

The exhibition, curated by 'moderator' Heman Chong (artist and writer, Singapore) and Samuel Saelemakers (Associate Curator, Witte de With), will include works by +40 artists "gathered around key concepts such as time, duration and space (Douglas Gordon, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, On Kawara), memory and inscription (Ang Song Ming, John Cage, Sharon Hayes), transformation (Bik Van der Pol, Nicolás Lamas), pleasure (Ivan Argote, Chu Yun, Willem de Rooij, Haegue Yang), and encounters (Lee Kit, Narcisse Tordoir)." [from the website].
 
"Moderation(s)" began in January 2013 with Latitudes' month-long residency at Spring Workshop, Hong Kong, with its project "Incidents of Travel": an invitation to four Hong Kong-based artists – Nadim Abbas, Ho Sin Tung, Yuk King Tan and Samson Young – to develop day-long tours, thus retelling the city and each participant’s artistic concerns through personal itineraries and waypoints. 

Around Kwun Tong market and shops with Samson Young. Photo: Spring Workshop. More photo-documentation here.

On 31 January a group of "Moderation(s)" participants [Heman Chong, Latitudes (Mariana Cánepa Luna and Max Andrews), Nadim Abbas, Mimi Brown, Chantal Wong, and Yuk King Tan] spent eight hours consulting the Asia Art Archive and engaging in multiple discussions around collectivity, time and knowledge triggered by archival resources [see "Asia Art Archive Intervention"]

Latitudes will also contribute to the forthcoming publication to be released on the occasion of the "The Part In The Story...", with documentation from each of the "Incidents of Travel" tours and an interview with curator Christina Li, Moderation(s)' witness.  

Participants during the Asia Art Archive intervention on 31 January 2013. Photo: Spring Workshop.

Follow:  
#ThePartInTheStory

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This is the blog of the independent curatorial office Latitudes. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
All photos:
Latitudes | www.lttds.org (except when noted otherwise in the photo caption)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Interview between Christina Li and Latitudes on 'Incidents of Travel' for Witte de With's 'Witness to Moderation(s)' blog

From April, 2013 onwards, writer and curator Christina Li (HK/NL) takes up the role of a designated Witness to Moderation(s) the year-long programme of exhibitions, performances and residencies that unfolds between Witte de With in Rotterdam and Spring in Hong Kong. As such, Li is invited to post regular blog entries responding to the multi-faceted projects part of Moderation(s).

Christina Li has been a part of Moderation(s) since its inception, and participated in the research and development workshop that took place at Witte de With in October 2012. Li will also be one of the four curators –together with Lee Ambrozy, Amira Gad, and Xiaoyu Weng– organizing the day-long conference Stories And Situations: The Moderation(s) Conference to take place on 5 October 2013 at Witte de With.

The interview published below between Li and Latitudes was originally published on Witte de With's website on May 2, 2013. 
 
Christina Li: Incidents of Travel” in Hong Kong is a second iteration of a project that you started in Mexico D.F in 2012, could you talk a little bit about how the idea of inviting artists to plan an itinerary functioning as both an artistic encounter and alternative studio visit came about?

Latitudes: The idea of the tour guide is of course not new. Back in 2009 while we were doing a year-long project in the Port of Rotterdam, we organised a series of bus tours to the port where we would present projects by Jan Dibbets, Lara Almarcegui or Christina Hemauer and Roman Keller, etc. Listening to the feedback of the group that took part during those tours, we realised there was something very valuable about the idea of being (kindly) trapped in a bus for a day and to be taken around with a group of people whom you shared interests or even friendship with. Some were co-workers and took the day to talk about non-work related issues, to admire the landscape, to listen to the soundtrack that accompanied the bus tour and basically to enjoy a day away from the keyboard. We wanted to repeat what we thought was a successful format and thought our trip to Mexico DF was a perfect occasion for that.


 Tour with Lara Almarcegui and botanist Remko Andeweg around the Port of Rotterdam, 8 November 2009. Photo: Latitudes. More images of the tour here.

While preparing a small exhibition of our eight years of practice for Casa del Lago in México DF, we felt we needed to add a ‘here and now’ contribution, and suggested inviting five artists (Minerva Cuevas, Tania Pérez Córdova, Diego Berruecos, Terence Gower and Jerónimo Hagerman) to develop a day-long tour for us.The choice of artists was mixed, some we had met before (Jerónimo or Terence) but didn’t know their work in much detail, and others (Tania, Minerva and Diego) we had been following their work for a while, but never met them in person. Our invitation was very open, our idea was for them to develop an itinerary that helped us understand their creative world, and that included them taking us to their favourite (or hated!) museums, libraries, markets, monuments, housing states, shops, restaurants, etc. that were special to their lives or to their artistic practice. We offered all artists a fee, covered all food and tickets-related expenses and had a car to take us around 9am–6pm, after that we used public transport. Experiencing any city accompanied by a local friend always offers a much deeper insight into any city, but navigating it with an artist whose work you admire, is even more meaningful as each site amplifies a personal connection.



 Photo: Eduardo Loza

Li: Did you choose to adopt a different approach in your invitation to the artists in the Hong Kong edition? As far as I understood, Nadim Abbas’ tour was open to the public, while Yuk King Tan’s, Ho Sin Tung’s and Samson Young’s were conducted in a more intimate manner within a smaller group; what was the reason behind this decision? What were the responses to Nadim Abbas’ tour?

Latitudes: No, the invitation was the same in both occasions, though in Hong Kong we mostly used public transport. We also had more time to prepare and digest information, as were a month in residence at Spring. In the end it worked out as one tour per week as that suited best the artists’ schedule. Nadim’s tour was the first and was indeed open to the public, it has been the only tour so far with this aspect, although it was still a small group, initially of around fifteen people. We were interested in pushing the format and of course this meant that Nadim had to consider practical issues like distances and locations more carefully (ie. avoiding long walking distances, accessibility for groups, food availability…) in order to be realistic with the timings. A few people joined on and off, some engaged more actively than others. It was wonderful to see that Hong Kongers were also discovering sites they had never been to, like the Waterfall Bay Park or the nearby Waterfall Bay. Somehow we were all tourists for a day.


Nadim Abbas tour, 19 January 2013. Waterfall Bay Park's waterfall. Photo: Trevor Young
 
Li: Since these tours have always been meant for you both to converse privately with each selected artist and to get to know their practices and the city, has opening these tours up conjure a different perspective of how these tours could function for you both initially? How has this attempt challenge your thinking in mediating and presenting the immediate experience and documentation of these tours to a larger audience?

Latitudes: The tours were conceived from the point of view of research, and we haven’t wanted to necessarily burden the artists or the format with the expectations that they were participatory performances or some kind of touristic spectacle. We’ve tried to keep them quite casual and inconspicuous in this sense, and to respect the notion of hospitality in the same way that if we came to your house for dinner, you wouldn’t expect us to bring a group of strangers with us! Indeed this was literally the case in the day with Yuk King Tan, which concluded with a household of Filipina domestic workers making dinner for us – women whose trust and friendship she had earned through her personal affiliations and the concerns of her art. It is really not a question of us making the tours exclusive or private – we have not actually prohibited anyone else from coming along if the artist suggested it or was anyway okay with it. Yet it somehow seemed important to be able to commit to spending an entire day with them, and as soon as there is definitely something like an audience present (that might expect to be entertained or decide to leave) the dynamics and the logistics change.

The tours in México DF took place during five consecutive days right after our arrival, so the way we shared the photographic material was more direct via our Facebook at the end of each day. The exhibition at Casa del Lago opened only two days after we concluded the last tour, so had to come up with a fast solution to present our explorations: we projected a selection of 200 images as a slideshow, and displayed a selection of printed photos on the wall alongside a large map of the city with pins that located the sites we visited and the actual itineraries we followed written by the artists, which contained short descriptions of each site (we printed extra copies of these and made them available in the exhibition so one could pick them up and follow the route. These are now available to download from our website.)


 Photo: Adrián Villalobos

In Hong Kong we were able to tweet during the tours, so it was an interesting process of documentation-on-the-go, of keeping a live diary of one’s journey, and to receive real-time responses from colleagues all over the world – the tweets have now been archived alongside some thirteen sound recordings, Facebook and blog posts. We also published blog posts of each of the tours which include extensive photo-documentation (by us and colleagues who took part) of the day interconnecting each photo with paragraphs of the itineraries written by the artists and our own impressions.

Li: You also have been to some other more specialised tours on offer during your stay in Hong Kong, were there more specific aspects of Hong Kong you were hoping to explore which guided your choices in attending these tours as a sightseer and a cultural tourist?

Latitudes: We were interested in studying what kind of readings the city offered away from the usual tourist sites (the Tian Tan Buddha, Victoria Peak, shopping tours, a day in Macau,…). We wanted to see if we could find more ‘marginal’ sculptures or sites that presented vernacular displays far from the polished and pre-packaged tourist experience.


  1km of floating boardwalks, Deep Bay, Mai Po Marshes. Photo: Latitudes.

We picked up hundreds of leaflets in the information office and found a couple interesting ones offered by the Walk Hong Kong company we thought were somehow out of the usual menu. We have always been interested in environmental issues and wanted to approach the high density of Hong Kong from another angle, from its relation to the surrounding nature. We visited the Mai Po Nature Reserve in the New Territories, a wetland on the Australasia migratory route, and ended the day in Long Valley in Sheung Shui, observing birds and farmers collecting large amounts of lettuces and watercress. This also tied in with another wetland we visited later with Ho Sin Tung, the Nam Sang Wai area, in the northwest of Hong Kong. This is to say that our own interests ended up tying in nicely with the sites we visited with the artists. Samson Young took us to a nearby area on his tour, to the border fence that separates Hong Kong with mainland China were we listened to “Liquid Borders”, a soundtrack he has been recording placing contact microphones in the wired fencing and mixing it with the sound of water of the Shenzhen River.

Another tour we joined was the Feng Shui tour led by Susan Braun. We started visiting Norman Foster’s Hong Kong HSBC building in Admiralty, built according to strict Feng Shui principles, and finished at the Chi Lin Nunnery. The final one was with Martin Heyes, a former British Army officer and passionate World War II specialist, who took us to Devil’s Peak at the eastern extremity of Kowloon and to the Museum of Coastal Defence, to learn everything about the 1941 Japanese invasion of Hong Kong.

A group of Japanese tourists visit the fough battery on Devil's Peak. Photo: Latitudes
 
Li: As a whole, what would you say about the kinds of insights you have gained about the city from these tours, which might be seen as complements to the knowledge produced from the more casual encounters you have had through “Incidents of Travel”?

Latitudes: The Walk Hong Kong tours were an opportunity for us to specifically learn about birds, marshlands, Feng Shui and the 1941 Japanese invasion, but most importantly it was an opportunity to discuss with our tour leaders issues that went beyond the tour script so to speak, issues like immigration, recent historical events such as the 2003 SARS outbreak, the current economic climate, the relationship to mainland China, etc. Curiously, all of the tour leaders were expats that had lived in Hong Kong for many years, so for us it was very interesting to hear how it was to live there today. The same goes for the artists, we absorbed a great wealth of information from each other beyond discussing the sites we were taken to. We talked about books, films, about the art world, what it is to be an artist and a curator today, etc. ‘Incidents of Travel’ and our residency was very much in line with what Heman Chong, moderator of the Moderation(s) program, explained during the January press conference: Moderation(s) is about stretching time. Not surprisingly, the image he chose to illustrate the long term collaboration between Spring Workshop and Witte de With was a clock. That image stood out very clearly during our time there. The offered time gave us the chance to generate conversations with the artists, to find a common ground, to generously share and exchange some kind of knowledge, and to engage in multiple and repeated dialogues with locals and expats, a rare luxury one is not often given.

 Latitudes' talk on 'Incidents of Travel: Hong Kong' and their practice during 'Open Day' at Spring Workshop, 2 February 2013.

  
Related contents:
13 Soundscapes of "Incidents of Travel: Hong Kong";
Storify "Incidents of Travel";
Flickr album of the four tours of "Incidents of Travel".


All photos: Latitudes | www.lttds.org (except when noted otherwise in the photo caption)
 

"Digression(s), Entry Point(s): An interview with Heman Chong", Singapore-based artist, curator and writer. Eighth in the #OpenCurating research series

 Cover of the interview. Photo: Joan Kee.


Interview available for download as a pdf or readable on ISSUU via Latitudes' web.

Heman Chong’s art practice is comprised of “an investigation into the philosophies, reasons and methods of individuals and communities imagining the future”. His ongoing project, The Lonely Ones, looks at the representation of solitude and the “last man on earth” genre in art, film and literature, and is the basis for a forthcoming novel entitled Prospectus. Chong’s recent solo exhibitions include LEM 1, Rossi & Rossi, London (2012), Calendars (2020–2096), NUSMuseum, Singapore (2011) and The Sole Proprietor and other Stories, Vitamin Creative Space, Guangzhou (2007). He has participated in numerous group exhibitions including the Asia Pacific Triennale 7 (2012), Performa 11 (2011), Momentum 6 (2011), Manifesta 8 (2010), Busan Biennale (2004), and the 50th Venice Biennale (2003) representing Singapore. Amonograph of his work entitled "The Part In The Story Where We Lost Count Of The Days", edited by Pauline J. Yao, will be published in June 2013 by ArtAsiaPacific

The interview was initiated at Spring Workshop, Hong Kong, in the context of Chong’s invitation to Latitudes to make a curatorial residency as part of Moderation(s), a year-long series of programming between Spring and Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam. "Digression(s), Entry Point(s): An interview with Heman Chong" also includes a guest spot with Gotherburg-based artist and writer Anthony Marcellini.

Follow:
@LTTDS 
#OpenCurating 
@HemanChong
#Moderations

ABOUT #OPENCURATING

Drawing on the emerging practices of so-called 'Open Journalism' – which seek to better collaborate with and use the ability of anyone to publish and share#OpenCurating is a research project that investigates how contemporary art projects may function beyond the traditional format of exhibition-and-catalogue. #OpenCurating is concerned with new forms of interaction between publics – whether online followers or physical visitors – with artworks and their production, display and discursive context.

The project is articulated around a series of ten new interviews with curators, artists, writers and online strategists published as a free digital edition [read here the published ones so far], a Twitter discussion moderated around the hashtag #OpenCurating and an public conversation with Dia Art Foundation curator which took place at MACBA on the 19 February.

#OpenCurating is a research project by Latitudes produced through La Capella. BCN Producció 2012 of the Institut de Cultura de Barcelona. 










Content partners: Walker Art Center

 



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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Samson Young's "Incidents of Travel: Hong Kong" tour

As part of Moderation(s), the year-long collaboration in 2013 between Witte de With, Rotterdam, and Spring Workshop, Hong Kong, curators-in-residence Latitudes have invited artist Samson Young to develop a day-long tour of Hong Kong retelling the city and artistic concerns through personal itineraries and waypoints.  

To complement the tour, please check the archive of twitter and facebook and soundcloud posts.

Follow Twitter: #IncidentsOfTravel #Moderations 

"Incidents of Travel: Hong Kong"
by Samson Young
7 February 2013
  
I am very envious of artists who are able describe their practices in a manner that is concise, succinct, and consistent. To tell one’s life story is also to confess. I purge my catalog of works and rebuild my identity (as told by images, sounds, and self-descriptions) every couple of years. Moderation(s)asks that I create a tour that “articulates the city and (my) artistic practice through routes and waypoints.” Are routes and waypoints more authentic than a studio visit? Are the vernacular, the eccentric and the marginal more “real,” in the same way that punk is real and techno apparently isn’t? The pressure to define the unique and the authentic is perhaps growing more urgent with globalization; but behind each assiduous defense of the authentic lies what Regina Bendix calls “an unarticulated anxiety of losing the subject” (Bendix 1997). 

During this tour, I eavesdrop on my own works in the presence of six others. We take an early morning sound-walk around the Kwun Tong industrial district, visit a site near the City Hall in Central where the now demolished Queen's Pier was once located, and trespass the frontier closed area near the Hong Kong-China border. In between locations, we listen to recordings of music and/or read texts that have informed my work one way or another.

 Sound walk begins at 75 Hung To Road in the industrial district of Kwun Tong.


Sound-walk: 75 Hung To Road, Kwun Tong 

We begin the tour at 75 Hung To Road. I will conduct again a sound walk that I created back in 2009. Participants of the sound-walk follow me on a route through the Kwun Tong industrial district. To create this work I walked the same route a number of times at different dates and times, generating one full recording in each walk through. I then edited these recordings into a single sound track, to which the participants listen during the sound-walk. During the sound-walk, I follow my own footstep by listening to the sound marks in the sound track, to ensure that I am in sync with my recorded presence.

 Samson Young leads us while listening to the 44 min. soundtrack "Kwun Tong Soundwalk" on mp3 players.


 Young takes us through the bus station.

  Photo: Spring Workshop.


 Condemned industrial buildings around Kwun Tong.
Around Kwun Tong's shops and markets. Photo: Spring Workshop.
More condemned buildings. When Young recorded the soundtrack in 2009 these places were still open, a proof of the swift gentrification of Kwun Tong.
Short pause at Yue Man Square Rest Garden. Photo: Spring Workshop.


Soundwalk-ing in a bus terminus. Photo: Spring Workshop. 

Tsim Bei Tsui, Frontier Closed Area 

I was born in Hong Kong but mostly educated in Australia. I’ve always felt that children of Mainland Chinese parents had an easier time answering the question, “Where are you from?” They simply say, “I’m Chinese.” I always feel more natural saying I’m from Hong Kong, rather than plainly stating that I’m Chinese. Or, if I say I’m Chinese, I feel the need to add the footnote that I was born in Hong Kong. I am frankly confused by all of this. For the longest time I avoided identity politics in my work, but the national education saga in 2012 prompted me to revisit this issue.

Hong Kong and Mainland China are physically separated by the ShenzhenRiver and a great wall of wired fencing, and south to the border are restricted zones known as the Frontier Closed Area. Entry into the Frontier Closed Area without an official permit is strictly forbidden. In October 2005, the then chief executive Donald Tsang announced a proposal to drastically reduce the Frontier Closed Area. In February 2012, 740 hectares of land were initially opened up for public access. The proposal will be implemented in phases, and other areas will soon follow suit. Since July 2012, I had been systemically collecting the sound of places and/or objects that separate the two regions. I recorded the vibration of the wired fencing with contact microphones, and the water sounds of the Shenzhen River with hydrophones. I rearranged these recordings into sound compositions. I then re-transcribed these sound collages into graphical notations.


  Walking through the fields that border China.

 Nearby Kaw Liu Village.


 Pig farm guarded by angry dogs.

 New development to house relocated villagers following highway construction.

En route. Photo: Spring Workshop
 Self-build constructions/storage along the way.


Young introducing the making of the soundtrack "Liquid Borders" we are about to listen to.

Since early 2012, 740 hectares of land have been opened up for public access, and buildings have been constructed nearer the fence which runs along the Shenzhen river.


 Bordering the fence while listening to the "Liquid Border" soundtrack.



Field recording. Photo: Spring Workshop

Queen’s Pier in Edinburgh Place.

Queen's Pier was a public pier in central in front of the City Hall. For decades it served not only as a public pier but also as a major ceremonial arrival and departure point. The pier witnessed the official arrival in Hong Kong of all of Hong Kong's governors since 1925; Elizabeth II landed there in 1975, as did the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1989. On 26 April 2007 the pier officially ceased operation. The government’s plan to demolish the pier to make way for a new highway was met with fierce opposition by conservationists. Despite the public outcry, Queen's Pier was demolished in the February of 2008.

I was living in New York when all of this happened. In 2009 I composed and directed a music theatre work entitled “God Save the Queen.” The work started out as a requiem for the Queen’s Pier. It evolved into a hymn to the structures, both physical and symbolic, of my teenage days – which were also the last of the colony’s. The performance was accompanied by a mixture of live footage from five theatre-based CCTV cameras, and pre-recorded clips of screen icon Helena Law Lan (who often played royalty for TV), dressed as the Queen.

 1956 City Hall building that connected with the now demolished Queen's Pier in Edinburgh Place.

Photo: Spring Workshop

The lotus pond, University of Hong Kong 

I was what you might call a “straight-down-the-center” composer to begin with. For over a decade I operated only in the concert in the capacity of a composer of the Western classical tradition. Now I do all kinds of weird things in all sorts of weird places. Chan Hing-yan, my mentor during my years at HKU, had a looming influence on me. I think a lot of what I do today is a reaction against what (I imagine that) I’d learnt during those formative years – a sort of a “creative misreading” as Harold Bloom would put it.


 To end the tour Samson reads a passage of his dissertation about his approach to music composition and cultural politics.
Talking nearby the lotus pond at "Hong Kong U". Photo: Spring Workshop


Samson Young (1979) is a composer, sound artist and media artist. Young received training in computer music and composition at Princeton University under the supervision of computer music pioneer Paul Lansky. He is currently an assistant professor in sonic art and physical computing at the School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong. Young is also the principle investigator at the Laboratory for Ubiquitous Musical Expression (L.U.M.E), and artistic director of the experimental sound advocacy organization Contemporary Musiking.
In 2007, he became the first from Hong Kong to receive the Bloomberg Emerging Artist Award for his audio-visual project “The Happiest Hour”. His brainwave non-performance “I am thinking in a room, different from the one you are hearing in now” received a Jury Selection award at the Japan Media Art Festival, and an honorary mention at the digital music and sound art category of Prix Ars Electronica.


Festival presentations and honors include: Prix Ars Electronica (Austria 2012); Japan Media Art Festival (Japan 2012); Sydney Springs International New Music Festival (Australia 2001), the Canberra International Music Festival (Australia 2008), ISCM World Musid Days (Australia 2010), MONA FOMA Festival of Music and Art (2011); the Bowdoin International Music Festival (US 2004), Bang on a Can Music Summer Music Festival (US 2005), Perspectives International Festival of Media Art (US 2009); Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt (Germany 2006); Dark Music Days (Iceland 2008); Kuala Lumpur Contemporary Music Festival (Malaysia 2009); amongst others. His music received performances by Hong Kong Sinfonietta, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, London NASH Ensemble, City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong, Bang on a Can and summer institute fellows, Network for New Music, New Millennium Ensemble, SO Percussion, Sydney Song Company, Hong Kong New Music Ensemble, MIVOS Quartet, among others.




Related contents:
Soundscapes of "Incidents of Travel";
Storify "Incidents of Travel";
Flickr album of the four tours of "Incidents of Travel";
'Incidents of travel' tour with Nadim Abbas on 19 January 2013;
'Incidents of Travel' tour with Yuk King Tan on 24 January 2013.
'Incidents of Travel' tour with Ho Sin Tung on 29 January 2013;


All photos: Latitudes | www.lttds.org (except when noted otherwise in the photo caption)
Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Yuk King Tan's "Incidents of Travel: Hong Kong" tour

As part of Moderation(s), the year-long collaboration in 2013 between Witte de With, Rotterdam, and Spring Workshop, Hong Kong, curators-in-residence Latitudes have invited artist Yuk King Tan (China/New Zealand) to develop a day-long tour of Hong Kong retelling the city and artistic concerns through personal itineraries and waypoints.

To complement the tour, please check the twitter and facebook and soundcloud posts via storify.

Follow on Twitter: #IncidentsOfTravel #Moderations



'Incidents of Travel: Hong Kong'
by Yuk King Tan
 

24 January 2013

My art practice is a series of negotiations, folding ideas, curiosities, structures and translations which together form stories that are not entirely expected or make narratives in a slightly unfamiliar tongue. I am curious about systems of value: what is valuable and how does it appreciate? Who defines value and is that control static or creative? Where and how do we house what is seen as precious and what is finally disposable?

A large part of the tour is not only about looking at sites but about visiting the people that inhabit these places and hearing their stories. Connecting different inhabitants of Hong Kong with the tour may even intervene in how certain groups see their roles. In Hong Kong people live parallel lives. It is ironic that in such an over-populated hyper urban city, people cohabitating in one home can find themselves in completely separate, disparate existences. Part of my art process tries to investigative and re-form, and part of the tour looks at the positioning between host and visitor, migrant and home, belief and skepticism. 

At the first art talk I ever gave I dressed as a tour guide, and with a loose mid-west American accent, I narrated a tour about art practice by highlighting art work seen and made and books read as various ‘attractions’, which were ingested over a travel slide presentation and onboard snacks. Like a twisted Greyhound bus tour complete with uniform and a cheerily dismissive attitude, I was interested in the distancing devices defining one’s art practice around the performance of presenting artwork in general. Any tour is an act of intimacy and distance. The act of memory is also a creative and theatrical set of gestures. This tour is a set around actions and meetings which are intimate, truthful and theatrical just as Hong Kong is a city rife with the potential for drama, fantasy and invention. I hope that the people we meet on the tour share in a larger discussion about what is valuable and what cannot be quantified.
 

The 12-storey meeting house buildling of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Wan Chai, Hong Kong, administrative headquarters of the Mormon church in Asia.


Wanchai Meetinghouse

In a early artwork “I am the light of the world, Dlrow eht fo thgil eht ma I” I made a video about a photograph made by group of New Zealand missionaries who went to southern China in the 1940s to spread the word of Christianty – a mission that unfortunately was a political and social disaster. The work was an image of the missionaries created entirely from firecrackers. In the video loop the firecrackers explode into a blaze of furious golden fire until the footage is reversed, setting up a continuous cycle of destruction and reformation.

 Elder Elliot. Courtesy Yuk King Tan.

Part of my general research is about the economic moves of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) as they are set up Hong Kong as a base to bring the Mormon Church into Mainland China. The Wanchai Meetinghouse is a 12-storey building that serves as meeting place for 12 wards, the administrative headquarters for the LDS Church in the Asia region and, with three apartments on top floor housing the church ‘Area Presidency’, as the obvious symbol of the reach of the Mormon faith. 

Designed by a Mormon architect Leland Gray and his son Stephen Gray its presence suggests that one of the most regimented Christian religions in the world will also move towards a strong presence in China. Inside the Meetinghouse is a maze of rooms: sports courts, multi-purpose prayer-zones, music and classrooms all decorated with spiritually focused paintings. The Church of the Latter Day Saints requires one-tenth of their follower’s income as part of the tilling process and also committed unpaid service such as the two-year missionary tours undertaken by 19-25 year old Mormons. I became interested in the missionaries ideas about language, belief, politics and service. Most of the missionaries are required to learn as much about their host country and language of the country as possible, they even have at times have a new terminology that fuses the slang from the host country with the language of the faith and church. The Wan Chai Meetinghouse has become a type of “one-stop baptism shop” where Mainland Chinese people can be anointed a ‘Mormon’ in just twelve hours to try to circumnavigate the backlash from communist officials. As most of the churches in Hong Kong are run on a tight economic business model, the possibility of using the city as a base into China’s billion possible new recruits can be seen of as an golden, priceless opportunity.

Lobby area. 

Sports area.

 One of the three chapels.

Our guides share some of their musical skills.

 One of the many congregation/teaching rooms.

 
Chung King Mansions and the nearby Mirador Mansions on Nathan Road, include low-budget guesthouses, electronic stores, clothing shops, sari stores, curry houses, tailors, and foreign exchange office. It has been estimated that 4,000 people live in the Mansions.

Chung King and Mirador Mansions 

Built in the 1960s Chung King Mansions were built for a higher level of economic strata because of their height and type of construction. Now they house the largest amount of guesthouses and the greatest level of ethnic diversity in Hong Kong. It has been called the by Time magazine “Best Example of Globalization in Action” or by Gordon Mathews “the backside or globalism”. The economic trade passing through these two buildings has been significant enough to have a cause and effect in the entire region. Hong Kong anthropologist Gordon Mathews states that 20% of the mobile phones in sub-Saharan Africa have been traded through these buildings. He goes on to say:
 
“Chungking Mansions figures as an important depot of the worldwide movement of goods and capital to and from the developing world - low-end globalization”, reports CNN.go. These two buildings are described by Surajit Chakravarty in his ‘Dissertation in Urban planning – Social Sciences’ as “spaces of market-culturalism with tensions arising from this hyper "market-culturalism", a socio-spatial condition (or entity) whereby identity is expressed through the market, legitimacy sought through consumption, and interaction between communities is marked by a spirit of competition, with tensions persisting under the façade of cooperation.”

I became interested in the light well structures when I first arrived in Hong Kong. They seemed something like a physical metaphor for the very density of change that Hong Kong aspires too achieve. The pipes and internal systems climbing up the buildings are a form of root system and, as the bars barricading the top of the wells are unable to prevent large collection of rubbish thrown at the bottom, the wells suggest the contrasts between daylight with dark obscurity, connection versus containment. A friend, who is a caretaker of the poorest housing estates in Hong Kong, once described a story where a young man wrenched off the bars at the top of the light well and from a cocktail of hallucinogens and perhaps suicidal thoughts jumped down the well. After hitting most of the air conditioners and injuring himself on the metal clothing racks he hit the bottom but survived as his body was expectedly cushioned by the huge amount of garbage that had been tossed down there.

With regards to Chung King mansions, Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai has said that “…its 200 lodgings, it is a mix of different cultures ... a legendary place where the relations between the people are very complicated. It has always fascinated and intrigued me. It is also a permanent hotspot for the cops in HK because of the illegal traffic that takes place there. That mass-populated and hyperactive place is a great metaphor for the town herself…”
 
At Chung King Mansions we will be lead through the floors by another filmmaker, Berlin-based Elke Marhöfer who currently lives in the mansions recording and researching the stories from African traders for a film about exchange, migrants and trading with sub-Saharan Africa.


Berlin-based artist Elke Marhöfer joins us for a bit during our Mansions visit and tells us about the filming project she has been conducting in recent weeks focusing on the trade between Africa and Asia. Photo: Heman Chong.


 Elke recommends Gordon Matthews' book "Ghetto at the center of the world. ChungKing Mansions, Hong Kong" (The University of Chicago Press, 2011).


Advertising low-budget lodging in the corridors of Chungking Mansions.


First floor of Chungking Mansions.
 
Boxed merchandise in Chungking Mansions.

 Mirador Mansions (more photos here).
 
 Notice board in Mirador Mansions.


Tailor workshop in Mirador Mansions.


In the stairwell of Mirador Mansions. Photo: Mimi Brown.
 
 Monica's enterprises, a sari store in Mirador Mansions.


 Courtyard of Mirador Mansions.


Laundry and A/C at Mirador Mansions.
 
Maximising laundry space. 


 A lost mexican sombrero in the Mirador Mansions.
Interior façades, Mirador Mansions. 


Kowloon Mosque

The tour of the Kowloon Mosque is lead by an Imam, Muhammad Ashrad. Both the mansions and the Kowloon Mosque hold 4,000 people and in many ways the two structures have defined the urban population of that area. As the largest and most attended mosque in Hong Kong it also shaped the development of that area, servicing and encouraging the Muslim population to stay and work in close proximity for prayer and for counsel. Most large religious institutions are constructed around notions of belief and grandiosity. The chandeliered grandeur of the main prayer space of the mosque has becomes its own inspirational jewel at the heart of the Muslim in Hong Kong yet by keeping the Muslim population centered around one area, it can be seen as problematic, creating a type of social isolation tank which acerbates the homogeneity of Hong Kong’s cultural make-up.


 Kowloon Mosque and Islamic Centre in Nathan Road, largest in the city. Photo: Mimi Brown.


Yuk King exploring the roof of the Mosque.


 Tea break with macanese-portuguese pastéis de nata and chicken pie at Macau Dai Pai Dong.


Entrance to the Chai Wan recycling depot, focus of Yuk King Tan's video 'The Limit of Visibility' (2012).


Chai Wan Working Cargo Area – Recycling Industry 

My home overlooks the recycling depot of Chai Wan and it’s a daily activity to watch the progress of the boats filled with compacted paper and scrap metal move through the harbour. Two of my art projects have looked at value in terms of recycling and labour. The video ‘Scavenger’ followed the work of elderly recycle-trolley workers, named ‘scavengers’ in Hong Kong, and in the video ‘Limit of Visibility’ I filmed the progress of the recycling material around the cargo areas and as it is loaded on ships that take the material to various sites in Hong Kong and China.

Still from the video 'Scavenger' (2008). Courtesy Yuk King Tan.

The government owns all of Hong Kong's cargo working areas but private operators lease parts of the cargo bay from the government so that the refuse industry balances in tension between private enterprise and public management. One of the operators of the Chai Wan cargo bay will take us on a tour of the area and talk about his business working in the district over the last four years.

The compacted cubes of paper and cardboard, craned from trucks into formal grids carpeting the long barges, can seen as a refuse landscape, the material creating its own mountains and valleys. Compacted into modernist blocks, the previously loose paper detritus is the byproduct of a booming information industry. Distributed between masses of ships and industrial crane equipment, this material is prepared to become another kind of vast colony. Sent to less developed countries further broken down and salvaged, the waste material is a literal paper trail about the scale, power and wastage of economic development and trade. The sheer tonnage of the paper and the beauty of its compressed form about to undergo future transformation are all tied to the fluctuating market value attached to refuse material.

Still from the video "The Limit of Visibility" (2012). Courtesy Yuk King Tan.

The recycling industry that brought in so much revenue through the last ten years to ‘recycle cities’ in China has been stymied by the global market slowdown. There are times where the material shipped to China has lost most of its share value over the travel time between ports. The paper cubes are like giant books from the transactions of the city, which now may only be used as landfill. There were stories from China that refuse paper blocks are being used as less than stable filler in creating reclaimed land. For Hong Kong, waste and recycling will always be a complicated issue in a dense and expensive land and property-controlled city.

Chai Wan depot transports metal, paper and plastic to mainland China and Taiwan. 

Boat route Chai Wan to Joss House Bay.


Fishing Boat Tour

The Chai Wan cargo bay operator who has an office on the Cargo Bay, also runs a small charter boat service from Chai Wan.

There is also a fishing boat area close by and we will take a small boat out into the harbour to look at the Hong Kong coastline from both urban and mountain landscape perspective over the sea. The famous Chinese painting trope of mountains and mist painting can be literally seen in Hong Kong landscape. I think of the philosophical traditions of the mountains and mist ink painting or mountain water as an analogy to the values of Hong Kong. The symbolism of a singular figure against nature, or in this case the mountains shrouding a hyper-dense urbanization can be seen best over sunset in a creaky fishing boat navigating between the large cargo tankers and cruise liners.

While on the harbour we will visit the largest Tin Hau Temple in Tai Mui Wan (or Joss House Bay) which can only be accessed by water as well as the floating fishing villages of Fat Tong Mun.
   
 The Tin Hau Temple at Joss House Bay from the water, the oldest and largest Tin Hau Temple built in 1266.

 View of the pier and the bay from the Tin Hau Temple, Joss House Bay.


 Floating fish farms in the coast of Tung Lung Island.

 Sunset over the bay.


Filipina Summit

We end with the tour with a dinner at a tiny boarding house where nine domestic helpers will make a meal from the Philippines and discuss political and personal issues around life as a Filipina woman working in Hong Kong.

These woman are friends, some of whom I have met, as part of a previous project ‘Helper’ 2009 in which a group of domestic helpers inhabited an gallery in Hong Kong to become both living sculptures and gallery invigilators for the duration of the exhibition.

Excerpt from Beth Laygo Interview – part of the 2009 project ‘Helper’ presented at 1aSpace, Hong Kong:

"I am a person behind everyone. We are always invisible, and if you want to call your work something, well, it should be just H, like Hey, or just like the sound ‘Hhh”, or H_____ with a gap. That’s like us - without a name. I have to subdue my personality, be in the background. Sometimes I feel as if I am losing myself piece by piece. Everyday a little part is gone, the worse thing is that it’s your self-confidence. And as time goes on you are lost, you have to be humble, and it’s so hard to be quiet all the time. You know… it's like I left my personality home in the Philippines.

We have a relationship based on verbs. My employer does not speak English, and I do not yet know how to speak Cantonese. We always use verbs in our everyday life, so we do action words. Not nouns or adjectives, the verb relationship.

Helper Beth. Courtesy: Yuk King Tan 

It’s okay to be called maid, because we are like that. But sometimes it’s so degrading. Just like a helper, you are really helping and when you are really helping you feel satisfaction, you feel joy and happiness and you feel some fulfillment. Just like, ‘maid’, is a bit above a slave. It’s so very low. When called a maid, it is a compulsory word. You are obliged to do it and have no choice.

That is an irony, even for us, that we are going to other countries taking care of others kids to have more money for our kids. Just like them, the employers, they entrust us their kids and we bring them up so they can make more money. It is bad, but needed in this kind of society, for this kind of lifestyle that we all want. Because we must enjoy life. It is in our nature to seek what others have. Though it is sometimes more about wants than necessities.

The most difficult part is the adjustment period. It’s a very long adjustment period. Both parties must put up with each other; you have your own attitudes, upbringing and values. So of course I try to correct mine, but also you must adjust to my values.

I will do in the gallery space what needs to be done, if I need to sweep the floor I will sweep, if there is dust I will dust the pictures. But we are used to it, is very hard to get away from your routine. When you are used to doing it, it is very hard to stop. The routine is sometimes boring; I am a person who likes to do fieldwork. It’s so boring if it’s just about the floor and house. Not everyday you have someone to talk to because everyday is very busy. It’s so comforting to be able to talk.

It’s quite bad; the Philippines is poor because there is so much politicking. They think about politics without considering the needs of the people. The people get poorer and poorer. I studied accountancy. To be working is a necessity; no mother wants to be away from her kids. We are the ‘light of the home’, yet we must go out and earn money.

I cannot explain art; art is something other people have like a gift, its drawing and pictures. Art is a gift, something that not everyone appreciates. Something its about dreams, sometimes its when things that are extra good. I feel so honored and thankful; it’s not everybody that wants us to be an artwork. My daughter is good at drawing."



Yuk King Tan (China/New Zealand) is an artist who lives and works in Hong Kong, negotiating issues such as bi-cultural and multi-cultural identity within a constantly evolving post-colonial society.


Her work, which includes detailed drawings in ash and smoke residue, exploding fire cracker installations, photographs taken from rockets, and a giant cardboard HSBC lion pushed through the streets of Hong Kong, is often poetic and frequently suggestive, connecting highly different subject-matters and mediums. The meta-themes in the artist’s work unveil interests in cultural delineations, global migration, and a personal relationship to world-defining issues such as value and economy.


Yuk King Tan has had solo and group exhibitions, most notably at the Hong Kong Arts Centre (1996); Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen (1999); Museum Fridericianum, Kassel (1999 and 2002); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2000); Camden Arts Centre, London (2000); Wellington City Gallery, New Zealand (2005); and Artists Space, New York (2006); Kunstverein, Hamburg (2008). She has held residencies at Dunedin, New Plymouth, Queensland, Aachen, Sydney, and London and has participated in international biennials in Queensland, Vilnius, Auckland, and São Paulo. She graduated from Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland University, New Zealand in 1993. She has taught and lectured at graduate and post-graduate art schools. 


RELATED CONTENT:
Soundscapes of "Incidents of Travel";
Storify "Incidents of Travel";
Flickr album of the four tours of "Incidents of Travel";
'Incidents of travel' tour with Nadim Abbas on 19 January 2013;
'Incidents of Travel' tour with Ho Sin Tung on 29 January 2013;
'Incidents of Travel' tour with Samson Young on 7 February 2013.

This is the blog of the independent curatorial office Latitudes. Follow us on Facebook and @LTTDS.
All photos:
Latitudes | www.lttds.org (except when noted otherwise in the photo caption).
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Ho Sin Tung "Incidents of Travel: Hong Kong" tour

As part of Moderation(s), the year-long collaboration in 2013 between Witte de With, Rotterdam, and Spring Workshop, Hong Kong, curators-in-residence Latitudes have invited artist Ho Sin Tung to develop a day-long tour of Hong Kong retelling the city and artistic concerns through personal itineraries and waypoints. 

Ho Sin Tung's tour of Hong Kong revisits shooting spots (which are still accesible) from her video "Folie à deux" (2011), in which people read aloud their favorite passages with their back to the camera at the spots they chose. Through her reading-and-listening relationship with her readers, intimate and unique memories are created in the locations.


To complement the tour, please check the twitter and facebook and soundcloud posts via storify.

Follow on Twitter: #IncidentsOfTravel #Moderations



'Incidents of Travel: Hong Kong'
by Ho Sin Tung 

29 January 2013

In 2011, I made a video called “Folie à deux” (trailer here), named after a psychological term describing “a condition in which symptoms of a mental disorder, such as the same delusional beliefs or ideas, occur simultaneously in two individuals who share a close relationship or association”. The video is a simple depiction of 17 people reading aloud from a passage from their favourite book with their back to the camera, at different indoor and outdoor locations chosen by each reader


I know many people read, but only a few read books in a more personal way. The 17 people in “Folie à deux”  were carefully selected as I sensed something “passionate” about them and their reading habits. Despite being a friend of the readers, I have never really discussed literature with them

The places in which the readers chose to read are significant to each, and some locations I am unfamiliar with. However, through filming, listening to their reading, staring at their backs and spending some time with them before and after filming , stories and memories of the places are created. The video gets its name because, through reading, readers unwittingly unburden themselves - you can even see their fragility at that moment - and I am part of it

I intend to re-visit each location (marked in this map) and by revisiting, I hope to re-tell the stories of each reader and the books they chose. Most of the places included in the trip are actually art spaces and artists’ studio. But through their stories, each place becomes less general and more intimate.

 Meeting in Tai Po, New Territories, Hong Kong
Cho Yun Kei, a favourite noodle spot in Sin Tung's family, and a very popular destination in Tai Po and beyond.

Breakfast in Tai Po.

 Breakfast conversations. 


 Wandering through Tai Po.

  The framers Sin Tung works with in Tai Po.

Tai Po chatting. Artist Ho Sin Tung with Mimi Brown of Spring and Max Andrews of Latitudes.

 Observing a school where kids are practicing percussion instruments for Chinese New Year. Listen to the field recording here. Photo: Spring Workshop.

 The 'hood.
 Amazing family-run bean curd shop "Grandma Tofu Pudding" in Tai Po.

  Delightful Tai Po treats: warm bean curd flower (also called "soya bean custard" / "bean curd dessert" / "bean curd jelly") at "Grandma Tofu Pudding". 
 Beautiful greens in Tai Po Market.

At Lo Wu station, mainlanders openly smuggle things like baby milk powder from Hong Kong.


Sheung Shui dialogues: "...and that? What is it? / Hmmm, I don't know... / it seems difficult to eat! / Do you think it's sweet or salty? / It looks more like an offering or maybe used for New Year decoration / I think they look like Wallace & Gromit-like fruit!

 Queuing for lunch at the Guong Shing Ice Café in Sheung Shui.

Observing our surroundings while queuing up for lunch. Photo: Spring Workshop.

Across the street from the lunch break in Sheung Shui.
Lunch break: Pinneaple bun, a soft bun with sugar on top and a slice of butter inside.


Recurrent in the Hong Kong shopping landscape: foldable chairs and tables for sale.


 Sheung Shui citizen amongst noodles and eggs. 

Nam Sang Wai, New Territories, Hong Kong 
Reader: Wong Wai Yin
Book: "Thomas the Obscure" by Maurice Blanchot

Wong Wai Yin is a Hong Kong artist married to Kwan Sheung Chi, also an artist. They are well known for their collaborative work, including a long performance piece,“Everything Goes Wrong for the Poor Couple”. Their work often references literature and they have a wonderful selection of books in their home bookshelf.  

Wong Wai Yin brought me to Nam Sang Wai, a place I had never previously visited, and where they had their wedding photographs taken. There has been great discussion over the years about developing the wetland area of Nam San Wai - one of the most beautiful areas in Hong Kong attracting many film directors, “photographers” and their “models”.  

Near where we filmed Wong Wai Yin reading, another couple was also taking wedding photos. These things reoccur over and over again in the grassy fields!
Afternoon walk around Nam Sang Wai wetlands.

Exploring Nam Sang Wai wetlands. Photo: Spring Workshop.

  Abandoned house in Nam Sang Wai.

Photo: Spring Workshop

 Vegetation around Nam Sang Wai wetlands.

 For the unwanted visitors, a "scare cormorant" at Nam Sang Wai wetlands.

Further exploration around Nam Sang Wai wetlands.
Abandoned house, favourite spot for Hong Kong TV drama kidnapping scenes.


 From here, Sin Tung filmed Wong Wai Yin segment in the video "Folie à deux".

 View from the window.

A busy wedding photo location indeed!

ACO, Foo Tak Building, Wan Chai
Reader: Li João Ye Chun
Book: "Slam Dunk" by Takehiko Inoue  

The owner of the Fuk Tak Building in Wan Chai offers cheap rent to some Hong Kong artists. There is also an English bookshop called ACO on the first floor; not just a bookshop but also a multi-use space for meetings, screenings, and education.

João is a former work colleague whom I admire and is now studying for a PhD in Berlin. He is very left wing and intelligent, but never in an intimidating way. I expected him to read something very academic, but rather than choosing a writer like Kant or Hegel, he picked a Japanese comic book that he liked as a boy. It’s a comic book about basketball. 

He chose the last basketball match in the comic, and read aloud the count down of the match’s final seconds: 2 seconds, 0.8 seconds, 0.1 seconds, 0 seconds… 

He chose something from pop culture and found a philosophical aspect to it.

 ACO bookstore. Photo: Spring Workshop.


Outside Hong Kong Arts Centre 
Reader: Alice Ho
Book: "Cry, the Beloved Country" by Alan Paton

Alice has worked for the Goethe Institute in Hong Kong for many years. I first met her while exhibiting there. 

She is a very energetic person and full of stories, I had a really good time working with her. The book has always reminded her of her father’s death.  

While reading, a nearby street musician – unexpectedly - played sad music.


 
Alice Ho from the Goethe Institute.

 Crab buns dinner at "The 369 Shanghai Restaurant" in Wan Chai.



Ho Sin Tung (1986, Hong Kong) graduated from the Fine Arts Department of Chinese University in Hong Kong. She is currently a full-time artist and has a studio located in Fotan, Hong Kong. Sin Tung’s recent work predominantly uses pencil, graphite and watercolour in combination with found and ready-made images – such as stickers, maps, charts, rubber-stamps and timelines. These are reinterpreted to narrate stories of places, relationships and periods of time often within a considered, objective historical setting.  


Her most recent exhibitions include “Hong Kong Inter-vivos Film Festival” in Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong (2012), “You Are Running A Business Called None Of My Business” in Abu Dhabi Art Fair (2011), “Folie à duex” in Experimenta, Hong Kong (2011) and “Don’t Shoot the Messenger” in Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong (2010). She also participated in group shows like “Hong Kong Eye” in Saatchi Gallery, London (2012), “The 9th Shanghai Biennale” in the Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art (2012), “Octopus” in Hanina Contemporary, Tel Aviv, Israel (2011), “Urban Utopia : if and only if” in Goethe Institute, Hong Kong (2011), “Drawing Out Conversation : Taipei” in Nanhai Gallery, Taipei (2010).

More information via Hanart TZ Gallery, Kong Kong.




Related contents:
Soundscapes of "Incidents of Travel";
Storify "Incidents of Travel";
Flickr album of the four tours of "Incidents of Travel";
'Incidents of travel' tour with Nadim Abbas on 19 January 2013;
'Incidents of Travel' tour with Yuk King Tan on 24 January 2013;
'Incidents of Travel' tour with Samson Young on 7 February 2013.

All photos: Latitudes | www.lttds.org (except when noted otherwise in the photo caption)

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

"Temple and Feng Shui Tour", a guided walk around Hong Kong Island & Kowloon

Alongside the four tours led by Hong Kong artists Nadim Abbas, Yuk King Tan, Ho Sin Tung and Samson Young, Latitudes is also venturing into the city, researching around local forms of vernacular collection display and eccentric attractions. This encompasses museum-like retail spaces, or ‘marginal’ sculptural displays, as well as joining pre-existing tours.

The "Temple and Feng Shui Tour" that we joined on the 22nd January around Hong Kong Island & Kowloon began by looking at Norman Foster's Hong Kong HSBC building in Admiralty, built according to Feng Shui principles.

 The HSBC building has a large wide open area (i.e. the Statue Square) in front of it, with no other large buildings blocking the view of Victoria Harbour thus a big plus point for good feng shui.
 
Natural sunlight makes its way inside the building via a movable platform regulated by computer which directs sunlight towards giant mirrors at the top of the atrium.

ATMs in the atrium.

Left lion statue (focus of Yuk King Tan's 'Scavanger' (2008) video) protecting the entrance of the building.
Two escalators access the building; three after the first floor (4 is a superstitious number as, when pronouned in Cantonese it sounds like the word for "death", hence the building doesn't have floors 4, 14 or 24).

I.M. Pei's Bank of China Tower has notoriously bad Feng Shui, nearby buildings try to compensate with shield-like shapes and curved corners.

View from 43rd floor of Bank of China Tower towards West Kowloon.

Wong Tai Sin temple (Sik Sik Yuen) where people worship Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism.

Main altar to worship Master Wong Tai Sin.

 Incense sticks and offerings to Master Wong Tai Sin.



Nan Liam garden built in the style of a Tang Garden.
 
Blue Pond in the Nan Liam garden.
 
Pavilion of absolute perfection at the Nan Liam garden, Diamond Hill, Kowloon.
 
The Rockery gallery in Nan Liam garden, "a collection of rocks excavated from the Red River in its stretch through Dahua County in Guangxi Province, China."

Chi Lin Nunnery in Diamond Hill, Kowloon, across the Nan Liam garden.
The Buddhist temple at the Chi Lin Nunnery.
 
Nan Lian garden and Buddhist temple at the Chi Lin Nunnery.  
View of the Japanese-style pagoda from the Buddhist temple at the Chi Lin Nunnery. 

Follow the project: #IncidentsOfTravel #Moderations

To complement the tour, please check the storify archive with tweets, sound recordings and more.

Moderation(s) is a year-long programme occurring throughout 2013 between Witte de With, Rotterdam, and Spring Workshop, Hong Kong.  


All photos: Latitudes | www.lttds.org (except when noted otherwise in the photo caption)

Nadim Abbas' "Incidents of Travel: Hong Kong" public tour

As part of Moderation(s), the year-long collaboration in 2013 between Witte de With, Rotterdam, and Spring Workshop, Hong Kong, curators-in-residence Latitudes have invited artist Nadim Abbas (Hong Kong, 1980) to develop a public tour of Hong Kong on Saturday, 19 January.

The day-long itinerary plots a course through a handful of sites in the city, which have in one way or another influenced the form, content, and processes of Nadim’s practice. Since Hong Kong has been his home for most of his life, some of these places have been all too familiar to him since childhood. This project now offers him the opportunity to spring fresh surprises on unsuspecting “tourists”, and possibly on himself as well.  

To complement the tour, check the twitter and facebook and soundcloud posts via storify, as well as the text "The Pathology of Hong Kong in the work of artist Nadim Abbas", an account of the tour by Zoe Li on ArtInfo.com (includes a slideshow).

Follow future events on Twitter: #IncidentsOfTravel #Moderations


Nadim Abbas introduces his tour to 16 participants in the Wah Fu Estate, Aberdeen.

Incidents of Travel: Hong Kong
by Nadim Abbas
19 January 2013

Although I usually speak about my work in terms of images and the imaginary, there is always an equally important component that describes an encounter with externalspace. By that I am referring to the heterogenous space in which we live, which we rarely have time to reflect upon except in a state of distraction. But just because there is no time to reflect doesn’t mean that these spaces don’t affect our thoughts, subtly penetrating the internal space of our imagination; in some cases to the point where one can no longer distinguish between the internal and the external, or between dream and reality. It is these moments of uncertainty that interest me the most, and which, in my own experience, transforms art making into a perpetual balancing act on the threshold between banality and oblivion.

The itinerary outlined below plots a course through a handful of sites in Hong Kong, which have in one way or another influenced the form, content, and processes that define my practice. Since Hong Kong has been my home for most of my life, some of these places have been all too familiar to me since childhood; waiting for the right opportunity to spring fresh surprises on this unsuspecting tourist.


Wah Kwai Estate block.


 
Wah Kwai Estate water feature (with no water).
Around the Wah Kwai Estate. Photo: Heman Chong.

Waterfall Bay Park, Aberdeen, Hong Kong


Waterside "resort" used by the local community to swim and exercise by the side of the South China Sea.

Waterfall Bay is said to have attracted Portuguese and British ships to its shores to collect fresh water from its namesake as far back as the 16th century. Today, about 30m from the falls lie the ruins of a WW2 military pillbox and petrol powered searchlight, referred to officially as “Beach Defense Units” by Allied troops during the Japanese siege of Hong Kong in 1941. A few minutes walk from the rocky beach along the coastline, residents of a nearby public housing estate have over the years converted what looks like a disused pier into an veritable seaside resort for the local community. Despite numerous government placards warning against swimming in ungazetted waters, residents eager for an early morning dip in the South China Sea have gone so far as to add ad hoc steps, pool ladders and even fresh water facilities for an after-swim wash. 


 Tour guide of the day, artist Nadim Abbas. Photo: Trevor Young.


 Looking towards Lamma Island from Waterfall Bay Park.

For the less adventurous, there are shelters and seating areas where the elderly gather everyday to play chess/cards, chat or simply watch the boats passing by. But perhaps the most endearing aspect of this site are the hundreds of porcelain statues of various Chinese deities clustered along the hillside and shoreline. I don’t know what started this particular outdoor collection; perhaps a makeshift shrine to protect local fisherman, or to commemorate a traumatic event? Or because it is considered unlucky to throw away statues of deities, they were quietly transferred to this idyllic setting instead. Needless to say, this latter aspect lends the whole site, already steeped in history, with a certain sacred quality. In a city like Hong Kong, where the regulation of land use usually falls into the purview of one dimensional governmental policies or market driven real estate developments, such elaborate appropriations of public space are a rarity. They represent in my mind a kind of fragile heterotopia, or an unwitting piece of relational art par excellence. 


Offerings to deities, Waterfall Bay Park, Aberdeen.


Hillside covered with porcelain statues of various Chinese deities. 
and more... Photo: Nadim Abbas


...some with their own shelters.


The waterfall of Waterfall Bay Park!


 Looking the other direction an abandoned WWII beach-defense unit.


Inside the WWII beach defense unit.


 Exploring the bay.


Nadim Abbas, Cataract (Iguazu Falls), 2011. Kinetic lightbox with Duratran print and aluminium window frames. 70(h) x 85(w) x 15(d) cm. Courtesy of the artist.

 Walking through the Wah Fu Estate in Pok Fu Lam. Photo: Heman Chong.


 Wah Fu Estate laundry.


Photo: Trevor Yeung.

Concrete Islands, Eastern Street, Hong Kong

My fascination with marginal spaces in the urban landscape began with this network of concrete islands that are located beneath the Connaught Road West flyovers next to the Western Harbour Tunnel (WHT) entrance. It is a site that I regularly pass by on bus rides to Kowloon side, and it became the model for a 46sq/m sandscape that was built in a warehouse space as part of an installation titled Afternoon in Utopia(2012). 

Underneath the Connaught Road West flyover. Photo: Heman Chong.

Photo: Trevor Yeung.

Nadim Abbas, Afternoon in Utopia, 2012. Mixed media installation (sand, concrete, pigment prints, painted wall text, red tinted lighting). Dimensions variable (sandscape coverage approx 46 sq/m). Courtesy of the artist.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of this particular set of islands are the uniform grids of solid concrete trapezoidal prisms that were set into the ground either by government departments or the government-franchised company that operates the WHT. The usual explanation for this strangely monumental arrangement of blocks is to discourage the homeless population from sleeping on the islands. I see it also as a way for the authorities to mark their territory, much like a dog urinates on a lamppost. A couple of questions remain: are concrete islands private or public spaces? What are the laws and jurisdictions that regulate the use of these spaces? Much like the status of homeless people, it seems that these anomalous zones occupy a certain legal grey area, perpetually overlooked because they exist on the boundaries of function and visibility.1
 
Photo: Heman Chong.


Lunch break at the West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade, site of the West Kowloon Cultural District development, to host the future M+, a museum for visual culture to open in 2017 with a focus on 20th and 21st century art, design, architecture and moving image.
 Hong Kong skyline from West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade along the Victoria Harbour.

Man Cheong Street Housing Complex, Jordan, Kowloon

As we all know, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. This is typically illustrated via descriptions of crowded streets in districts like Causeway Bay, Sham Shui Po and Mong Kok, or of the ubiquitous high-rise public housing estates around the territory. This latter aspect is indicative of the tendency, which began under colonial rule, to build upwards rather than outwards to meet the demands of a growing population. Ackbar Abbas, in Hong Kong: Culture and the Politics of Disappearance (1997) writes:

"Hyperdensity is partly the result of limited space, but it is also the result of how this limited space could be exploited for economic gain. On the one hand, the colonial government deals with the problem of hyperdensity by constructing cheap housing estates. On the other hand, the government policy of releasing crown land bit by bit at strategic moments and its prerogative, which it duly exercises, of designating land as rural (where strict building restrictions apply) or urban, ensure that building space remains scarce and property prices remain high."


Man Cheong Street Housing Complex, a case study in hyperdensity. 


Photo: Trevor Yeung. 


 Stuck in traffic conversations (Left: Mimi Brown and right: Nadim Abbas). 


Although the experience of living in a hyperdense milieu is often talked about disparagingly, it has also been argued that the close proximity between the commercial and the residential actually encourages diverse, dynamic communities and a vibrant street culture (in contrast to the the bland homogeneity of suburban sprawl). 


  
In the early 90s, a group of Japanese architects conducted an in depth survey of the city, extolling the virtues of hyperdense living, and going so far as to liken this still existing complex of apartment blocks off Man Cheong Street (another regular sight for me on weekly cross-harbour bus rides) to the infamous (now demolished) Kowloon Walled City:

Circulation inside the apparently solid block is not horizontal but vertical. Each slab-building is actually a grouping of towers, separated by slender slots. [...] Within these slots of space, like everywhere else in Hong Kong, however, residents have built illegal elements. Thus, although at first glance this highly ordered building complex looks nothing like the chaotic Walled City in Kowloon, it shares with it many features, such as its density of use and its vertical circulation.2

 
 Wiring, piping, washing and air-conditioning in the Man Cheong Street Housing Complex.


My own concerns regarding the phenomenon of hyperdensity have to do with the kinds of sub-cultures, or modes of (anti)sociability that emerge as a result of extended inhabitation. This has translated into research and immersion in otakuculture, which carries with it stereotypes of socially inept male subjects walled up alone in their apartments; as if the dense accumulation of cramped interior space encourages an introversion, or vacuum of mental space itself. Interestingly, the Chinese word for otakuis宅男 (zaak naam), where is short for housing (complex) or tenement (block), and means male.


 Nadim Abbas, I Would Prefer Not To (宅男) #9, 2009. Digital C-print photograph, 64 x 42cm. Courtesy of the artist.



Shanghai Street, Yau Ma Tei.

The final leg of this tour takes us down a number of well-known streets in Hong Kong, which are prime examples of the kind of vibrant street culture that characterizes a hyperdense city like Hong Kong. They also provide a historical cross section of architectural styles in the region, from pre-WW1 “Verandah” type buildings to modern-day podium towers. Each street is known for its specific cluster of specialized shops and/or stalls. Tung Choi Street, for instance, is affectionately known as “Goldfish Street” since it is almost exclusively lined with pet shops and aquarium suppliers. My choice of these 3 streets in particular reflect my own interests as a consumer as much as producer. In fact it is often the case that I get ideas via shopping, or window shopping - there is always an excuse to pick up another piece of useless junk... 


  Photo: Heman Chong.
 
Shanghai Street, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon(Kitchen and restaurant supplies)


Meat cleavers and tea pots around Shanghai St.


Pots and pans galore.
Passing by the Kowloon Wholesale Yau Ma Tei Fruit Market.

A durian fruit in the Kowloon Wholesale Fruit Market.
 
Tung Choi “Goldfish” Street, Prince Edward, Kowloon(Pet shops, aquarium supplies, bicycle shops)


Goldfish of all size and variety sold at Tung Choi “Goldfish” Street.


Aquarium supplies of all persuasions.

 Aquarium supplies to decorate fish-tanks.


Mini red, blue and white lobsters, Tung Choi “Goldfish” Street. 


Nadim Abbas, Marine Lover, 2011. Mixed media  (Polyresin coral casts, fluorescent black lights, plywood, door frames, mirror), 300(h) x 100(w) x 1900(d) cm. Courtesy of the artist.

Ap Liu Street, Shum Shui Po, Kowloon(Electronic components, consumer electronics, camera accessories, hi-fi & AV equipment, hand/power tools & accessories, flea market)


Watches, lighting fixtures, cables, transformers, telephone chargers, wires, batteries, and all kinds of other hardware supplies.


 ...as well as fishing nets

...all sorts of magnets. Photo: Trevor Yeung.


...and mountains of second-hand drills in the Ap Liu Street market.

1 In his visual essay, On Marginal Spaces: Artefacts of the Mundane (2011), Peter Benz devotes a whole section to the discussion of concrete islands. For a fictional account, see J. G. Ballard’s Concrete Island (1974), a kind of Robinson Crusoe for the twentieth century.

2 See architectural journal, SD (Space Design) Hong Kong: Alternative Metropolis No. 330, March 1992.

 


 
Nadim Abbas (Hong Kong, 1980) is a Hong Kong-based installation artist. His work explores the intricate role that memory-images play in the intersection between mind and matter. This has culminated in the construction of complex set pieces, where objects exist in an ambiguous relationship with their own image, and bodies succumb to the seduction of space. 


Abbas studied sculpture (B.A.) at the Chelsea College of Art and Comparative Literature (M.Phil.) at the University of Hong Kong. He currently holds teaching posts at the Hong Kong Art School and City University of Hong Kong. Notable exhibitions and projects include: “No Longer Human”, Osage Kwun Tong, Hong Kong (2012); “Marine Lover”, ARTHK11, Hong Kong (2011); “Cataract”, EXPERIMENTA & Gallery Exit, Hong Kong, “FAX” Para/Site, Hong Kong (both 2010); and “Louis Vuitton: A Passion for Creation – The Hong Kong Seven”, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong (2009).  

Related contents:
Soundscapes of "Incidents of Travel";
Storify "Incidents of Travel";
Flickr album of the four tours of "Incidents of Travel";
'Incidents of travel' tour with Yuk King Tan on 24 January 2013;
'Incidents of Travel' tour with Ho Sin Tung on 29 January 2013;
'Incidents of Travel' tour with Samson Young on 7 February 2013.



All photos: Latitudes | www.lttds.org (Except noted otherwise in the photo caption)

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Founded in 2005 by Max Andrews and Mariana Cánepa Luna, Latitudes is a curatorial office based in Barcelona, Spain, that works internationally across contemporary art practices.

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