Longitudes

Locating Ancient Lights signs around London with Nicholas Mangan

Nicholas Mangan’s show “Ancient Lights” recently opened at London’s Chisenhale Gallery, where Latitudes had a conversation with the artist on 7 July. The title of the show refers to a long-established English planning law enshrining the “right to light” by restricting the construction of buildings that would block sunlight reaching the windows of neighboring properties. If the sun has shined through a window for more than twenty years, there is legal protection for it not to be blocked. 

In the spirit of our tour project Incidents of Travel (which has involved artist-led explorations of Mexico City, Hong Kong, and soon San Francisco) on 3 July we set out with Nick to track down some of these esoteric signs in central London.


We started with a set of signs that – thanks to Wikipedia’s entry on the Right to light – are probably the best-known examples. The back windows of houses on Albemarle Way are visible from the Memorial Garden of the Priory Church of the Order of Saint John just off the Clerkenwell Road. (Here is a map of some Ancient Lights signs in London, if you know of more let us know!). We made our way on foot to a spot at the south end of Hatton Gardens (an address now notorious for the April 2015 heist) but failed to find the rumored sign there. It was a little early in the day for a pint at the nearby Ye Olde Mitre.



Heading in to Chinatown, we found ourselves scouring the bizarrely-named Horse & Dolphin Yard, a dead-end alleyway with a pagoda-like construction where several restaurants from Gerrard Street and Shaftesbury Avenue have there back entrances. We eventually spotted the sign, which appears to have been moved from its original location as it doesn’t mark any window, just a bare brick wall.



Nearby there is a cute sign above the diminutive Rupert Court, at the back of The Blue Posts pub. (If we were going to stop for a drink it would have to be somewhere far more thematically appropriate – the Sun Tavern in Covent Garden, The Sun and 13 Cantons in Soho or the Rising Sun in Bloomsbury, would hit the spot). 

Later in the week we found the huge and typographically-distinguished Ancient Lights sign in Newman Passage, a little connecting street perhaps most famous for its starring role in the murderous opening scene of the film Peeping Tom (1960).


The more modest sign that can be seen next to the lamp of The Hope pub, just near Goodge Street tube station, is a palimpsest still bearing visible traces of an earlier sign underneath. Thus endeth the tour!


RELATED CONTENT:

Latitudes conversation with Nicholas Mangan on 7 July 2015 at Chisenhale Gallery, London;


Cover Story, July 2015: Nicholas Mangan’s ‘Ancient Lights’;

Max Andrews, Feature on Nicholas Mangan, 'Landscape Artist', Frieze, Issue 172, Summer 2015;

Mariana Cánepa Luna, 'What Lies Underneath', interview with Nicholas Mangan, Mousse Magazine #47, February–March 2015.


This is the blog of the independent curatorial office Latitudes. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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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.

Tour of Devil's Peak and the Museum of Coastal Defence

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.

On 30th January, Latitudes joined the "Devils's Peak and Museum of Coastal Defence" tour organised by Walk Hong Kong and led by former British Army officer and War World II specialist Martin Heyes, who has lived in Hong Kong for nearly 40 years. Heyes is a passionate and insightful guide for anyone interested in the context and details of the 1941 Japanese invasion of Hong Kong.


Following are abstracts of text from Walk Hong Kong website and images of our route.


Wilson Trail up to Devil's Peak.

"At the end of the 19th century, and early into the 20th, the British authorities were very concerned about perceived threats to the safety of their colonial possessions in the Far East from other European powers. Hong Kong fell into this category. Accordingly the British Government constructed impressive military fortifications to protect their imperial possessions, and one of these was at Devil's Peak at the eastern extremity of the Kowloon peninsula."


Kowloon and Victoria Harbour.



"The large fortification constructed to defend the eastern approaches to Hong Kong harbour consisted of 2 fixed gun battery positions, together with a Redoubt at the summit of Devil's Peak which later became the Fire Command Headquarters for the eastern part of Hong Kong."


Overgrown trench.


 View from Devil's Peak Redoubt.

"Although the position was eventually considered redundant and was in fact decommissioned before the outbreak of the Pacific War, the location was the scene of bitter fighting between the courageous Indian soldiers of the Rajput Battalion and the attacking Japanese army during the battle for Hong Kong in December 1941, immediately prior to the British evacuation of the mainland to Hong Kong island." 
 Gough battery.

"Following our visit to the gun battery position on Devil's Peak, we walk down through the seafood restaurant area of Lei Yue Mun to catch the ferry to Sai Wan Ho on Hong Kong island. A short taxi ride then brings us to the Museum of Coastal Defence, housed inside the late Victorian-era Lei Yue Mun Fort."


Descending towards Lei Yue Mun.

 Lei Yu Mun promenade in eastern Kowloon.


Seafood restaurants' fish tanks in Lei Yue Mun.


 Lei Yu Mun bay.

"The fort occupied a strategic position guarding the eastern approaches to Victoria Harbour. The British military built barracks here as early as 1844, but these were abandoned shortly afterwards. In 1885, in the face of perceived aggrandizement from other European powers, artillery barracks were constructed with a redoubt at the core of the fortifications."


  Devil's Peak (right) seen from the Museum of Coastal Defence.

Display in the Museum of Coastal Defence showing the life of a British soldier in the 19th Century.

 The Hong Kong Telegraph from January 1902 – including a prominent ad for beloved Brit product Bovril.
  Japanese naval flag & pistols from the December 1941 invasion of Hong Kong.

Follow the project: #IncidentsOfTravel #Moderations

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


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

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)

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

First week of the "Moderation(s)" residency at Spring Workshop, Hong Kong

View of Hong Kong from Victoria Peak.

Wall text at Spring Workshop introducing Latitudes' month residency.

Moderation(s) team. Left to right: Athena Wu and Mimi Brown (Spring Workshop), Samuel Saelemakers and Defne Ayas (Witte de With, Rotterdam), artist and 'Moderation(s)' curator Heman Chong and Mariana Cánepa Luna and Max Andrews (Latitudes). Photo: Spring Workshop.

 Lunch break at Spring Workshop.

As part of Latitudes' 'Moderation(s)' research residency in Hong Kong we will be looking into how the city is articulated through specialist tours and attractions – such as self-made or esoteric museums, museum-like retail spaces, or “marginal” sculptural displays – both phenomena at the edge of the cultural, tourism and leisure sectors. Our first visit took us to the Hobby and Toy Museum in Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon (below).

  Hobby and Toy Museum entrance in Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon.

  Hobby and Toy Museum galleries at Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon.

 Dinner at Lin Heung Tea House in Wan Chai.

 Divinities shop around Shanghai Road in Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon.


'The Palazzo' residential complex in Fo Tan.


 View from Leung Chi Wo and Sara Wong's studio in the Wah Luen Industrial Centre.


MTR station Fo Tan.
 
French toast breakfast at Leung Chi Wo and Sara Wong's studio in Fo Tan.
  
Working table of Ho Sin Tung's studio at the Worldwide Industrial Centre in Fo Tan.
 
Detail of Ho Sin Tung's studio at the Worldwide Industrial Centre in Fo Tan.


Detail of Ho Sin Tung's studio at the Worldwide Industrial Centre in Fo Tan.

Studying the map of Fotanian Open Studios 2013.

 
Fo Tan apartments looming over the forested hills.
 
Fo Tan industrial area.


On 15 January we made day to the New Territories to explore birds and biodiversity. Here's the bird list from the day: 

Eurasian Wigeon, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Eurasian Teal, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Oriental Stork, Black-faced Spoonbill, Yellow Bittern, Black-crowned Night Heron, Chinese Pond Heron, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Little Egret, Great Cormorant, Western Osprey, Black Kite, Eastern Marsh Harrier, Crested Goshawk, Eastern Buzzard, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, White-breasted Waterhen, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Grey-headed Lapwing, Pacific Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, Greater Sand Plover, Greater Painted-Snipe, Pintail/Swinhoe's Snipe, Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Terek Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Great Knot, Red-necked Stint, Temminck's Stint, Dunlin, Black-headed Gull, Saunders's Gull, Black-tailed Gull, "kamtschatschensis" Mew Gull, Caspian Gull, Heuglin's Gull, Caspian Tern, Domestic Pigeon, Spotted Dove, Asian Koel, Plaintive Cuckoo, House Swift, White-throated Kingfisher, Black-capped Kingfisher, Common Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Grey-chinned Minivet, Scarlet Minivet, Long-tailed Shrike, Ashy Drongo, Azure-winged Magpie, Eurasian Magpie, Collared Crow, Large-billed Crow, Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher, Cinereous Tit, Yellow-cheeked Tit, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Chinese Bulbul, Chestnut Bulbul, Red-rumped Swallow, Asian Stubtail, Dusky Warbler, Pallas's Leaf Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Yellow-bellied Prinia, Plain Prinia, Common Tailorbird, Rufous-capped Babbler, Masked Laughingthrush, Silver-eared Leiothrix, Japanese White-eye, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Crested Myna, Red-billed Starling, Black-collared Starling, Blue Whistling Thrush, Grey-backed Thrush, Common Blackbird, Pale Thrush, Red-flanked Bluetail, Oriental Magpie Robin, Daurian Redstart, Stejneger's Stonechat, Red-throated Flycatcher, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Fork-tailed Sunbird, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Scaly-breasted Munia, "taivana" Eastern Yellow Wagtail, "macronyx" Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Richard's Pipit, Olive-backed Pipit, Crested Bunting, Chestnut-eared Bunting, Black-faced Bunting.

Kam Tin river, looking for Grey-headed Lapwings.
 
Entrance to the Mai Po Nature Reserve.


Mai Po Marshes, the scrape.
 
Gate 107 through border fence towards the mangroves and Deep Bay, Mai Po Marshes.


 Deep Bay (mudflat).
 
 Fiddler crabs and mudskipper, Deep Bay, Mai Po Marshes.


 Chinese Pond Heron and Great Egret, Deep Bay, Mai Po Marshes.


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


 'The Scrape', Mai Po Marshes. 


 Southern Mai Po Marshes.


We later visited Long Valley, the largest remaining tract of cultivated land in the Sheung Shui of the New Territories. Here a soundscape with roosting Black-Collared Starlings and Crested Mynas, and a passing train.


Cultivated fields of lettuce at Long Valley.


 Mix of lowland, cultivation, abandoned land and fishponds at Long Valley. 


 Farm worker collecting lettuce at Long Valley.


Packing greens, Long Valley.
 
Long Valley between baskets and sky-scrapers.
 
Very green lettuce, Long Valley.
Highly equipped bird photographers.


Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences in the Mid-levels of Hong Kong.


Visit starts here, don't get distracted.


 Model of Kowloon tower block which suffered the worst outbreak of SARS in 2003.


Display of the Old Pathological Institute. "Medical students" c. 1912 examining rats for Bubonic plague.


Transitions in Midwifery display.


 In the basement: traditional Chinese Herbalist shop 'Cun An Tan' Equipment.


 Model of ear acupuncture points.


"Inoculation of calf with cowpox to produce vaccines against Smallpox" exhibit.


Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware in Hong Kong Park.


Display of tea pots introducing the history of Chinese tea drinking, from the Tang dynasty (618 – 907) to the 20th century.


Introducing the various styles in making tea beverage practiced in China at different times of the day and in different geographical points.


 Compressed tea cake packaging.


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

Moderation(s) meeting in Rotterdam and a few shows in Amsterdam

Last week we were in Witte de With, Rotterdam, for a two-day meeting in preparation for the 2013 project Moderation(s). Moderation(s) is a year-long programme of residencies, performances, exhibitions, workshops and research initiated by Witte de With’s director Defne Ayas and Spring Workshop founder Mimi Brown. At the core of the project stands ‘The Moderator’, incarnated by Singaporean visual artist and writer Heman Chong. More news soon, in the meantime you can read more in this interview with the artist. 
 Artist and writer Heman Chong (left) introduces the Moderation(s) programme to participants and collaborators.

At the end of the first day of the workshop, Witte de With director Defne Ayas, gave a tour of their current show 'The Humans', a year-long project by visual artist and writer Alexander Singh (image above and three photos below), which "includes a variety of formats, from presentations and rehearsals to discursive events that are informed by the props produced on site. Leading up to the final presentation of his play in the Spring of 2013, Singh transforms Witte de With’s second floor into an artist’s studio." (text from Witte de With's website).





The exhibition included spatial design by architect Markus Miessen, including "a multi-purpose yellow monolith. This giant modular cube consisting of sixty-four separate blocks constantly mutates in accordance to a series of events taking place in 2012, including Singh’s Causeries."
(from the website).


The previous evening to the workshop TENT and Witte de With hosted an evening of events which began with a lecture by Vivien Sky Rehberg's "Deschooling/Deskilling" lecture.


(Above) Rotterdam ladies on stage. Left to right: Mariette Dölle (Programme director, TENT), Vivian Sky Rehberg (Director of the Master of Fine Art at the Piet Zwart Institute) and Defne Ayas (Director, Witte de With) introducing the evening.

Downstairs TENT had the exhibition "Between the map and the territory" which included the below installation by curator Maaike Gouwenberg and artist Joris Lindhout, on their ongoing research into the "gothic as a cultural strategy". 

Bik van der Pol's piece "Accumulate, Collect, Show" (below) at TENT (originally produced as part of Frieze Projects 2011). View video of the piece changing the modular text elements to spell out a number of abstract idioms, quotes and maxims here.


(Above) view of 'Untitled (Assimilated being), version 2"( 2011) by Swiss artist Karin Hueber: "Hueber’s work consists of installations of architectural elements that are apparently waiting to be used, as pieces of scenery for a stage production, as attributes for a performance. Elements are bent, folded, doubled, reversed or enlarged." (from the website).

On Sunday 21st we visited Amsterdam, quickly visiting the new spaces of de Appel and W139. de Appel presented the group show "Stem Terug! / Vote back!" which included a new presentation of the 2010 work "Local regulation" by Amikejo artists Iratxe Jaio and Klaas van Gorkum (image below).


(Above) General view of the first room of the exhibition with works by Artur Zmijewski ("Them (Oni)", 2007), Iratxe Jaio and Klaas van Gorkum ("Plaatselijke Verordening" (Local Regulation), 2010) and Otto Berchem ("Blue Monday", 2011).


(Above) General view of the first room of the exhibition with works by Sam Durant ("Tell it like it is", 2005), Yuri Veerman ("Red White Blue", 2012)  and Otto Berchem ("Blue Monday", 2011).

 (Above) Otto Berchem's "Blue Monday", 2011. Courtesy Gallery La Central.
(above and below) The Yes Men spoof edition of the "New York Times Special Edition", 2008.

The nearby W139 hosted the group exhibition "The Research and Destroy Department of Black Mountain College" (below) with the participation of 30+ artists whose work share the idea of 'collecting'.


At 4pm we joined the tour of the exhibition "Time, Trade and Travel" by Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam curator Jelle Bouwhuis (photographed below). The event coincided with the closing day of the exhibition.
 
View of the exhibition "Time, Trade & Travel" at Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam. More images here.
 

Following Bouwhuis' tour, there was an in conversation between American artist Zachary Formwalt and Dutch critic and historian Sven Lütticken in which they discussed Formwalt's film 'A Projected Geometry' (2012) (presented in the "Time, Trade and Travel") in relation to his previous film work such as "unsupported transit" (2011), amongst others.

Witte de With, TENT, Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam (SMBA), de Appel and W139 were all part of Latitudes' curated programme 'The Dutch Assembly': 30 hourly talks, readings, artists presentations, performances, book launches, in conversations and screenings presented last February over the course of the five days of ARCOmadrid.

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

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Inauguración de 'Incidentes de viaje' & 'Proyectos 2005–2012' en La Sucursal, Casa del Lago, México DF, 27 de septiembre 19:30h



Alongside 'Projects 2005–2012' – a visual index of the thirty projects of Latitudes realized since 2005 – Latitudes has originated 'Incidents of Travel' from its temporary office in Casa del Lago's La Sucursal. Artists Minerva Cuevas, Tania Pérez Córdova, Jerónimo Hagerman, Diego Berruecos, and Terence Gower have been invited to develop day-long tours for Latitudes, articulating the city and their artistic practice through routes and waypoints in the metropolitan area. Documented and mapped in La Sucursal, the project aims to explore the chartered itinerary as a format of artistic encounter with the capacity to bypass the convention of the studio visit through highly specific views of the city. 

Minerva observing the murals by Marion Greenwood at the Mercado Abelardo L. Rodríguez.

 View from Minerva's studio roof (Torre Latinoamericana on the horizon).

Browsing the 'Mexican Art Section' at a bookstore on Calle Donceles.

The route proposed by Minerva Cuevas focused on the concept of the public and its socio-economic associations. The tour began in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in Tlatelolco, continued to the Tepito and Lagunilla neighbourhoods, and from there visited nearby markets, public squares in the historic centre of Mexico City. It concluded with a visit to the Torre Latinoamericana, a symbol of modernity of the city in the 1950s. Throughout the course of the journey, rural elements that constitutes an integral part of the city are highlighted.

  Exploring Insurgentes with Tania Pérez Córdova and photographer Eunice Adorno.

 Browsing Av. Insurgentes's lottery stands, copy & pawn shops, wedding outlets, tacos stands...

View of nearly collapsing 19 floor "Canadá" building on Av. Insurgentes.

The tour proposed by Tania Pérez Córdova traced the route of a stretch of Avenida de los Insurgentes – the longest avenue of Mexico City which extends from the Mexico-Pachuca to the Mexico-Cuernavaca highways. The tour focused on certain points up and down this thoroughfare, becoming a mental journey with the daily commute of the artist as its starting point.
Av. Universidad 1601. When Miguel de la Madrid left the Mexican Presidency in 1988, this apartment block was fitted with angled concrete blinds in order to block residents' views of his garden and house across the road.


Tacos of maciza (like pulled pork) and chicharrón (fried pork rind) made by Don Tomás at El Venadito, Avenida Universidad near the corner of Miguel Angel de Quevedo.


Murals and canvases on "Freud, the revolution and its elements" by Vlady at the Biblioteca Nacional Lerdo de Tejada. The library gathers the archive of the Secretaria de Hacienda y Crédito Público. Its collection is one of the most important archives in Latin America dating from the 18th Century onwards and focusing on economics.  

Diego Berruecos's tour encompassed several points in the city where he found the raw material for his ongoing investigation PRI: Genealogy of a Party. The itinerary takes in the Hemeroteca of the UNAM, where he photocopied obituaries relating to the 2007 sudden death Monica Pretelini, wife of the then governor of the State of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto. From there, brunch was enjoyed at El Venadito, which, according to the artist, "serves the best carnitas tacos in the city". This is a regular spot for the artist and is next to a major building in his research, which inspired one of the most interesting branches of his artistic genealogy: the series 'Architecture of Power'. This building is located in front of the home of the recently deceased Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado, 52nd president of Mexico. Finally, a visit to the Biblioteca Miguel Lerdo de Tejada and the Library of Congress, and end at El Sella restaurant "which serves the best chamorro in the city".


Estación de metro La Raza - Túnel de las ciencias: a metro transfer turned into an educational experience.


 Unidad Habitacional el Rosario: a 1972 condominium with its characteristic cube-shapped 'zotehuelas' (windowless cantilevered kitchen patios).


Torres de Satélite - a 1958 collaboration between architect Luis Barragán and sculptor Mathias Goeritz in Ciudad Satélite, northern part of Naucalpan, Mexico City.

Terence Gower's tour, 'Urban Models (Zacatenco to Tlalnepantla)' looked at universalist urbanism models in the northern sectors of Mexico City. The tour started at the 1963 campus of the Instituto Politécnico Nacional, an expression of order and building technology that perhaps hadn't quite arrived in Mexico at the time of its construction. The tour next visited two housing complexes: Unidad Habitacional El Rosario was from the post-war building boom that produced complexes like Tlatelolco, employing the urbanistic principals of density and land-use of Le Corbusier and the Athens Charter. The second, the Unidad Habitacional de San Buenaventura, is a recent "cookie-cutter" style private development in which identical houses are built in rows that blanket the landscape. Similar to the Politécnico scheme, these recent developments are attempts at imposing order on the chaos of Mexico City. Finally the tour visits Satélite, a low-density suburban-US style development that has generated its own unique culture. Lunch was at Solo Veracruz es Bello, and concluded with a visit to Metro La Raza.


"Copa de oro" and ivy in Casa Barragán, México.

 Colourful trajineras in Xochimilco take tourists and city residents alongside the 170km canals and chinampas (artificial islands, a vestige of Xochimilco's pre-Hispanic past).

 Black lava flow, lush greenery, concrete and red crushed tezontle at the incredible Espacio Escultórico at the UNAM. A 1978-1980 collaborative work by Federico Silva, Mathias Goeritz, Helen Escobedo, Manuel Felguérez, Hersúa y Sebastián.

Jerónimo Hagerman's visit delved into some situations, phenomena or cases in which he finds a particular, intense and emotional relationship between Mexico City, its inhabitants, with the outdoors, the wilderness and the nonhuman nature. The tour visited public and private spaces of different kinds, starting with the house-studio of architect Luis Barragán, followed by a tree invaded by ivy in colonia Polanco, the Espacio Escultórico of the UNAM, and a food tour around the chinampas (artificial islands) in Xochimilco. The day ended with a drink at Bellini, the WTC revolving restaurant which offers panoramic views of the city and a night visit to the Mercado de Jamaica.

All photos: Latitudes | www.lttds.org

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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Latitudes
2005—2019