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Longitudes cuts across Latitudes’ projects and research with news, updates, and reportage.

#OpenCurating: "Latitudes in conversation with Yasmil Raymond", Curator, Dia Art Foundation, New York. Tuesday 19 February, 19:30h. Auditori MACBA, Barcelona

Dia Art Foundation curator, Yasmil Raymond. Photo: Lina Bertucci

| ENG |
 
"Latitudes in conversation with Yasmil Raymond" 

Tuesday 19 February 2013, 19:30h
Auditori MACBA, Barcelona
Free admission. Limited seating. With simultaneous translation.

This event is part of Latitudes' ongoing #OpenCurating research, which analyses the implications of Web 2.0, participation and transparency for contemporary art production and programming. The core of #OpenCurating is formed through a series of interviews, freely available online, most recently with Steven ten Thije (Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven), Sònia López and Anna Ramos (MACBA, Barcelona), and Badlands Unlimited (New York).

The conversation with Dia Art Foundation's curator Yasmil Raymond will address Dia's historical identity, the evolving role of the curator, and Raymond's vision in commissioning and preserving art projects. The dialogue will be later transcribed and published as the seventh interview of the #OpenCurating research series.

The evening will incorporate "crowd-sourced" questions by the public previously solicited via Twitter (hashtag #OpenCurating) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/LTTDS).

Yasmil Raymond has been Curator at the Dia Art Foundation since 2009, where she has organized exhibitions and projects with artists such as Jean-Luc Moulène (2012); Yvonne Rainer (2011-12); Koo Jeong A (2010-11); Franz Erhard Walther (2010-2012); and Trisha Brown (2009-10). Prior to joining Dia, Raymond worked at the Walker Art Center (2004–2009) in Minneapolis where she organized solo exhibitions with Tomás Saraceno (2009), Tino Sehgal (2007) and group exhibitions including Abstract Resistance (2010); Brave New Worlds (2007, co-curated with Doryun Chong). Raymond studied at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1999) and the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College (2004).

As a non-profit institution founded in 1974, the Dia Art Foundation is renowned for initiating, supporting, presenting, and preserving art projects. Between 1987 and 2004, the Dia Center for the Arts in Chelsea, New York, saw presented site-specific exhibitions and projects including those by Robert Gober, Jenny Holzer, Jorge Pardo and Pierre Huyghe. Dia:Beacon opened in 2003 in upstate New York, as the home for Dia’s distinguished collection of art from the 1960s to the present. Dia Art Foundation maintains long-term, site-specific projects including Walter De Maria’s The New York Earth Room (1977) and The Broken Kilometer (1979), Max Neuhaus’s Times Square (1977), Joseph Beuys’s 7000 Eichen (7000 Oaks) (1988), and Dan Flavin’s untitled (1996), all in Manhattan; the Dan Flavin Art Institute in Bridgehampton, New York; De Maria’s The Vertical Earth Kilometer (1977) in Kassel, Germany; Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (1970) in the Great Salt Lake, Utah; and De Maria’s The Lightning Field (1977) in Quemado, New Mexico. Currently Dia is developing a project space on West 22nd Street in New York City.


#OpenCurating is a research project by Latitudes produced through BCN Producció 2012. La Capella, Barcelona City Council.   


 






Content partner: Walker Art Center, Minneapolis / walkerart.org





Related posts:
"Host and Ambassador: A Conversation with Yasmil Raymond" Curator of Dia Art Foundation, New York. Seventh in the #OpenCurating research series (7 March 2013)


| ES |

"Latitudes conversa con Yasmil Raymond"

Martes 19 de febrero, 19:30h
Auditori MACBA, BarcelonaEntrada gratuita. Aforo limitado. Con traducción simultánea.  

Este evento es parte del proyecto de investigación #OpenCurating de Latitudes, enfocado en el análisis de las implicaciones de la web 2.0, así como la expectación de participación y transparencia, en la producción y programación de arte contemporáneo. El núcleo de #OpenCurating consiste en una serie de diez entrevistas, disponibles en línea y gratuitas, con artistas, comisarios y escritores tales como Steven ten Thije (Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven), Sònia López and Anna Ramos (MACBA, Barcelona), y Badlands Unlimited (Nueva York).  

La conversación con la comisaria del Dia Art Foundation, Yasmil Raymond se centrará en la identidad histórica del Dia, la evolución del rol del comisario y la visión de Raymond en el encargo y el comisariado de proyectos artísticos. La charla será posteriormente transcrita y se publicará como la séptima entrevista en la serie #OpenCurating .

La sesión incorporará preguntas previamente enviadas por el público a través de Twitter (@LTTDS con hashtag #OpenCurating) y Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/LTTDS).

Yasmil Raymond ha sido Comisaria del Dia Art Foundation en Nueva York desde el 2009, donde ha organizado exposiciones y proyectos de artistas como Jean-Luc Moulène (2012); Yvonne Rainer (2011–12); Ian Wilson (2011–13); Robert Whitman (2011); Koo Jeong A (2010-11) (2010-11); Franz Erhard Walther (2010-2012); y Trisha Brown (2009–10). Anteriormente Raymond trabajó en el Walker Art Center en Minneapolis, donde organizó exposiciones individuals de Tomás Saraceno (2009), Tino Sehgal (2007) y exposiciones colectivas como Abstract Resistance (2010); Statements: Beuys, Flavin, Judd (2008); y Brave New Worlds (2007, co-comisariada con Doryun Chong). Raymond estudió en The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1999) y cursó un máster en el Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College (2004).

Como institución sin ánimo de lucro fundada en el año 1974, el Dia Art Foundation es conocida por haber iniciado, apoyado, presentado y preservado proyectos artísticos. Entre 1987 y 2004, el Dia Center for the Arts en Chelsea, Nueva York, presentó exposiciones y proyectos site-specific de Robert Gober, Jenny Holzer, Jorge Pardo y Pierre Huyghe, entre otros. Dia: Beacon abrió sus puertas en 2003 en el norte del estado de Nueva York, como sede de la distinguida colección de arte desde la década de 1960 hasta la actualidad. Dia Art Foundation mantiene proyectos a largo plazo en sitios específicos tales como The New York Earth Room (1977) y The Broken Kilometer (1979) ambos de Walter De Maria; Times Square (1977) de Max Neuhaus, 7000 Eichen (7000 Oaks) (1988) de Joseph Beuys; untitled (1996) de Dan Flavin, todos en Manhattan; el Dan Flavin Art Institute in Bridgehampton, Nueva York; The Vertical Earth Kilometer (1977) de Walter De Maria en Kassel, Alemania; Spiral Jetty (1970) de Robert Smithson en Great Salt Lake, Utah; y The Lightning Field (1977) Walter De Maria  en Quemado, Nuevo Mexico. En la actualidad, Dia está desarrollando un espacio para proyectos en la calle West 22nd de Nueva York. 

#OpenCurating es un proyecto de investigación de Latitudes producido por La Capella. BCN Producció 2012 del Institut de Cultura de Barcelona. 


 







Content partner: Walker Art Center, Minneapolis / walkerart.org





Contenido relacionado:"Host and Ambassador: A Conversation with Yasmil Raymond" Curator of Dia Art Foundation, New York. Seventh in the #OpenCurating research series (7 de marzo 2013)




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All photos: Latitudes | www.lttds.org (except when noted otherwise in individual photo captions).  
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Latitudes' Open Day at Spring Workshop on 2 February 2013

On February 2nd, 2013 Spring Workshop hosted an Open Day during which Latitudes discussed, together with Moderation(s) moderator Heman Chong, their month-long residency in Hong Kong. The contribution to the project consisted in realising the second iteration of "Incidents of Travel",  with tours by Hong Kong-based artists Nadim Abbas (19 January), Yuk King Tan (24 January), Ho Sin Tung (29 January) and Samson Young (7 February) – amongst other explorations around the city, such as to Mai Po marshes, Feng Shui tour or to Devil's Peak

The evening began tracing "Incidents of Travel"'s origins with itineraries and tours organised in previous projects such as the seminar-on-wheels for the 8th Sharjah Biennial (2007) as well as during Portscapes (2009) in the Port of Rotterdam. After introducing "Incidents of Travel" in Mexico City and the four tours in Hong Kong, we fielded questions from the audience and discussed the ongoing research project #OpenCurating and its origins with the editorial project realised for The Last Newspaper (2010) exhibition at the New Museum in New York.


 Moderation(s)' moderator: artist, writer and curator Heman Chong.


 Food time! Thai food from the neighbouring Cooked food Market on Nam Long Shan Road, Aberdeen.

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

All photos: Spring Workshop.
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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.

#IncidentsOfTravel #Moderations 



"Incidents of Travel: Hong Kong"
by Samson Young
7 February 2013
  
I am very envious of artists who are able to 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 catalogue 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 defence of the authentic lies what Regina Bendix calls “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.


 The 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 walkthrough. I then edited these recordings into a single soundtrack, 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 soundtrack, 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.
A 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.



Sound 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 honours 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 Music 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:


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.
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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 excerpts 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.

#IncidentsOfTravel #Moderations

To complement the tour, please check the Social media archive with tweets, sound recordings and photo-documentation.


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.

Stacks Image 39


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, or follow #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 scepticism.

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 artwork 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 building 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 Christianity – 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 a 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.

C
hung 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 of 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 to 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 the 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 become its own inspirational jewel at the heart of the Muslim in Hong Kong yet by keeping the Muslim population centred 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, the 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 be 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 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 women are friends, some of whom I have met, as part of a previous project ‘Helper’ 2009 in which a group of domestic helpers inhabited a 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. Every day 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 fulfilment. 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 other 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 every day you have someone to talk to because every day 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. 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 it's about dreams, sometimes its when things that are extra good. I feel so honoured 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 firecracker 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. 


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