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Why Hong Kong

Why Hong Kong Claudio Bucher Brandon Farnsworth Patrick Kull Michael Schindhelm

Connecting Spaces Hong Kong – Zurich


Why Hong Kong

Why Hong Kong Connecting Spaces Hong Kong – Zurich


Contents/Inhalt

Preface/Vorwort 5 by Michael Schindhelm Travelogue 9 by Claudio Bucher Stadt ohne Grund We need a Riot Disappearing Besuch bei Jaffa Connecting Space

13 19 27 31 35

41 Portraits by Patrick Kull

Jaffa Lam Chow Chun Fai Morgan Wong Ko Sin Tung Lai Cheuk Wah Sarah Kwan Sheung Chi Kong Chun Hei Lam Tung Pang Tang Kwok Hin

43 49 55 61 65 69 73 77 83

89 Interviews by Brandon Farnsworth 91 Kurt Chan 101 Connie Lam, Teresa Kwong, Ian Leung Tina Pang, Pi Li 107 115 Leung Po-足Shan Tobias Berger 121

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Preface/Vorwort Michel Foucault introduced the concept of heterotopia into the theory of space. Heterotopia is a counter-place, which both depicts and questions the real world. Foucault’s counter-places include cemeteries and theatres. Whereas today the real world appears to be vanishing behind its digital reproduction, whereas the utopias of modernity are now exhausted, whereas the future of the past seems to be more congenial than the lived present, whereas optimistic future prospects are suspected of neoliberalism, and whereas a yearning to return to the past is becoming overwhelming, heterotopia seems to be an experimental arrangement for understanding our times. It neither demands the unattainable (unlike utopia) nor relishes the apocalytic (unlike dystopia), but rather asks what is possible. Hong Kong is a heterotopia. The city mirrors and questions the paradigmatic phenomena of our times. Thus, Hong Kong is an almost unprecedented manifestation of urbanism. Whereas other cities are growing at breathtaking speed, Hong Kong’s population has been stagnating for twenty years. Whereas the city is an outstanding example of how the colonial past was successfully overcome, it is an unstable amalgamation of Anglo-Saxon and Asian cultures. And whereas reunification in 1997 returned Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China, the city nevertheless represents an attempt at social autonomy (and an alternative to Chinese society). Following Milton Friedman’s dictum, Hong Kong embodies an ideal form of capitalism. Its liberalist economy seems to prove Friedman right. Since 2009, we have been observing how the centres of the capitalist system – Wall Street, the City of London, etc. – are becoming global platforms of protest. OCCUPY is a heterotopia of present-day capitalism that not only reflects but also questions our world. OCCUPY discovered Hong Kong for itself at an early stage and through various movements. The occupation of Hong Kong’s financial district this autumn plainly reveals that the sheer number of demonstrators and law enforcement officers have turned the city into a centre of the worldwide movement for a politics of participation. Art is an intangible heterotopia of our times. Its most successful expressions both reflect and contradict the demon of an apodictic, unloved reality. Hong Kong is on the complex way to becoming an art metropolis. Its exceptional status, however, will ensure that also this development will unfold differently than in Shanghai, Tokyo, or Singapore, for example. From February to September 2014, Claudio Bucher, Patrick Kull, and Brandon Farnsworth, Master’s students at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), and I explored how Hong Kong’s cultural situation is changing under the influence of various large-scale projects, such as the development of the M+ Museum (West Kowloon Cultural District) and Art Basel’s taking over of Hong Kong’s art fair. This publication offers 5


readers insights into our research, which included a stay in Hong Kong during Art Basel | Hong Kong in May 2014. Those seeking to understand this city like ourselves (albeit only one of its many aspects) will soon realise that any such understanding has narrow bounds. They will also recognise, however, that there is something far more important than understanding, namely, experiencing the city as a counter-place to its environs, its history, its (decreed) future. For Hong Kong is a city without any certainties, in which nothing is determined, which is constantly devising counter-concepts to itself, and which is destroying, in a stirring manner, the (postmodern, Western) doubt that the future is (still) possible.

Michel Foucault hat den Begriff der Heterotopie in die Raumtheorie eingeführt. Die Heterotopie ist ein Gegenort, der die reale Welt zugleich abbildet als auch infrage stellt. Foucaultsche Gegenorte sind etwa Friedhöfe oder Theater. Während heute die reale Welt hinter ihrer digitalen Vervielfältigung zu verschwinden scheint, die Utopien der Moderne erschöpft sind, die Zukunft der Vergangenheit wohnlicher anmutet als die gelebte Gegenwart, optimistische Zukunftsaussichten unter dem Verdacht des Neoliberalismus stehen und die Sehnsucht nach Rückbesinnung übermächtig wird, scheint die Heterotopie eine Versuchsanordnung zu sein, unsere Zeit zu verstehen. Sie verlangt nicht nach dem Unerreichbaren (wie die Utopie), sie geniesst nicht die Apokalypse (wie die Dystopie), sie fragt vielmehr nach dem, was möglich ist. Hong Kong ist eine Heterotopie. Diese Stadt spiegelt paradigmatische Phänomene unserer Zeit und stellt sie infrage. So ist Hong Kong ein fast nirgendwo erreichter Ausdruck von Urbanität, aber während andere Städte atemberaubend schnell wachsen, stagniert die Bevölkerungsentwicklung von Hong Kong seit zwanzig Jahren. Die Stadt gilt als Paradebeispiel einer gelungen Überwindung kolonialer Vergangenheit und ist doch ein instabiles Amalgam angelsächsischer und asiatischer Kultur. Seit der Wiedervereinigung 1997 gehört Hong Kong zu VR China und stellt dennoch den Versuch einer gesellschaftlichen Autonomie (Alternative) dar. Milton Friedmans Diktum zufolge verkörpert Hong Kong eine Idealform des Kapitalismus. Die liberalistische Ökonomie der Stadt scheint ihm Recht zu geben. Seit 2009 beobachten wir, wie gerade die Zentren des Systems – Wallstreet, die City of London – zu globalen Plattformen des Protests werden. OCCUPY ist eine Heterotopie des heutigen Kapitalismus, die unsere Welt widerspiegelt und infrage stellt. OCCUPY hat Hong Kong frühzeitig und in verschiedenen Bewegungen für sich entdeckt. Mit der Besetzung des Finanzzentrums von Hong Kong im Herbst dieses Jahres wurde jedoch plötzlich evident, dass allein angesichts der Zahl der Demonstranten und Ordnungskräfte Hong Kong offenkundig ein Zentrum der weltweiten Bewegung für eine Politik der Partizipation geworden ist. Die Kunst ist eine immaterielle Heterotopie unserer Zeit. In ihren gelungensten Ausdrucksformen widerspiegelt sie den und widerspricht sie dem Dämon einer apodiktischen, ungeliebten Realität. Hong Kong ist auf einem unübersichtlichen Weg, eine Kunstmetropole zu werden. 6


Dank dem Ausnahmestatus der Stadt wird auch diese Entwicklung anders verlaufen als etwa in Schanghai, Tokio oder Singapur. Die Masterstudierenden der Zürcher Hochschule der Künste Claudio Bucher, Patrick Kull und Brandon Farnsworth haben gemeinsam mit mir im Zeitraum zwischen Februar und September 2014 eine Untersuchung darüber angestellt, wie sich die kulturelle Situation der Stadt Hong Kong unter dem Einfluss diverser Grossprojekte wie der Entwicklung des M+Museums (West Kowloon Cultural District) und der Übernahme der Kunstmesse Hong Kong durch die Art Basel verändert. Die vorliegende Publikation gibt Aufschluss über unsere Recherche, die u.a. einen Besuch in Hong Kong im Mai 2014 während der Art Basel umfasste. Wer wie wir (wenn auch auf einem Teilgebiet) diese Stadt zu verstehen versucht, wird rasch einsehen müssen, dass dieses Verstehen seine engen Grenzen hat. Er wird aber auch erkennen, dass es etwas gibt, das wichtiger ist, als das Verstehen selbst. Dies ist das Erfahren einer Stadt als Gegenort zu ihrer Umgebung, ihrer Geschichte, ihrer (verordneten) Zukunft. Einer Stadt, in der es keine Gewissheiten gibt, in der nichts feststeht, die unaufhörlich Alternativen zu sich selbst entwirft und auf ergreifende Weise den (postmodernen, westlichen) Zweifel daran zerstört, dass Zukunft (noch) möglich ist. Michael Schindhelm

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Travelogue by Claudio Bucher Stadt ohne Grund We need a Riot Disappearing Besuch bei Jaffa Connecting Space

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In his travelogue, Claudio Bucher investigates the precarious state of independent cultural production in Hong Kong, a megacity flooded by streams of immigrants and money, deforming the fast-changing metropolis already under a tightening political corset. During a five-day journey in the former British colony, the author unfolds a net of reflections oscillating between Hong Kong’s past history, present developments, and future projects, using capitalistic excesses as the backdrop. Between historical, economical, and political macro-perspectives, we are guided through Hong Kong’s streets, shopping malls, and finally land in art studios, exhibition halls, and cafés, where artists, neo-bohemians, journalists, and entrepreneurs speak on behalf of a community that is not willing to compromise its ideals. In his interactions with the city’s protagonists, the author intertwines his own experience as an artist, prompting heartfelt, sincere descriptions. The reflections and personal views on a decade as a composer and musicproducer enable the reader to follow the author’s version of stories, along with his changing perception of the city. Through this lens, a rather critical picture of the creative industry is constructed, where market forces and alignment with state-funded initiatives do not leave much room for autonomous development. The interviewees reveal a pessimistic and tough impression of life as an independent artist in the city. A tsunami of economico-political constraints dissolves ideals, strengthens the disconnection between art and the general population, and undermines the protagonists’ aspirations for the city. There is a sense of desperation and frustration in the air, but also glimpses of success and solidarity in a fight against the disappearance of Hong Kong core values that will peak several months later in the umbrella movement.

Asking about the societal value and function of art and culture in the beginning of the text, an answer is offered a few pages later. Where neoliberal capitalism and concentrated political power enforce conformism, autonomous art and culture can only be political, and can only be implicit or explicit resistance. “Art is a steel construction” when institutional foundations on which art should grow are repeatedly sabotaged by all-encompassing commercialization. But art is much more. It is respect, social inclusion, service to society, and it is beauty. However, independent art seems to walk on shaky legs, always stumbling along. Initiatives like the Zurich University of the Arts’ Connecting Space can support this kind of art, but also need to find their own pace in this vibrating city. In a final reflection on the simplified portrayal of Hong Kong in western media, the text advocates for a finegrained view that transgresses binary perspectives, suggesting that an in-depth analysis of Hong Kong as a future version of mainland China is inevitable; China will unavoidably find its way to the west. Until that time, the travelogue takes us directly into the 20-square-meter apartments, where culture is produced independently, against all odds. With a detailed and lively description, the travelogue can be seen as a contribution to a better understanding of the cultural scene in Hong Kong, and a reflection about the interplay between the roles of government and market forces in creating culture in this “borderline city”. Michael Etter

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Wären die neonerleuchteten Wolkenkratzer gefrorene Musik, dann Ravels Ondine aus Gaspard de la Nuit, polyrhythmisch verwobene Arpeggios, anorgisches, chromatisches Knacken in 30-MillisekundenAbständen. Erstarrte Glissandos auf schwarzen Tasten. Erstarrte Musik in einer entzauberten Welt. Ravels Ondine¹ ist eine Meerjungfrau, ein Zwischenwesen, halb Meer, halb Land. Ravels Vertonung ein Stück aus Zauber, Eleganz und Abscheu, basierend auf einem jahrtausendealten Mythos von Seenixen, die Geliebte ertränken, von Verführung, Loreley und in Meeresschaum Sterbenden. Im Oktober 1993 versammelten sich 2’000 Hong-Kong-Chinesen am Ufer von Aberdeen auf Hong Kong Island, nachdem sich das Gerücht verbreitet hatte, dass ein Fischer eine Meerjungfrau an Bord seines Boots gezogen hatte. Die Polizei musste für Ordnung sorgen, es war bereits die dritte Meerjungfrau-Sichtung in diesem Oktober.²

1 – Basierend auf dem Gedicht „Ondine“ aus Aloysius Bertrand, Gaspard de la Nuit, 1842 (Éditions Gallimard) 2 – South China Morning Post, 2,000 hooked by a classic mermaid tale. 13 October, 1993. Ein Augenzeuge: „Every time a fishing boat appeared at the entrance of the harbour gasps of anticipation and cries of ‚here she comes‘ and ‚this is it‘ echoed around the waterfront.“

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Stadt ohne Grund Tag 1


Am ersten Abend Red Rainstorm Warning, nördlich an der Grenze der schwerste Regenfall seit sechs Jahren. Shenzhen ist komplett unter Wasser, 150 Strassen sind überschwemmt. Wir rennen in Central durch Shopping Malls mit glattpolierten Marmorböden, um irgendwo auf einer Rooftop-Bar anzukommen in Asia’s World City. Die komplett leere Terrasse ist laut dem Kellner reserviert, No Access. Beim zweiten Mal nachfragen kriegen wir schliesslich doch einen Platz in der Lounge, Blick auf die LED-Wolkenkratzer inklusive. Die Symphony of the Lights der Hochhäuser, die grösste permanente Licht-Show der Welt, ist schon vorbei. Es blinkt trotzdem noch ein wenig. Rot. Weiss. Blau. Dazu Bier für acht Schweizer Franken. Hinter den Glasscheiben spielt eine Akustikgitarre für die leisen Gäste, auf den Membranen kleiner Lautsprecher vibriert anonym Musik, doch das hört man kaum. Der Regen hier fällt lauter als bei uns. Die verwinkelten, dicht gebauten Hochhäuser scheinen den Schall zu multiplizieren auf dem Weg zu unseren Ohren im 25. Stockwerk. Wir müssen lauter sprechen. Auf Hong Kong Island kann man weite Strecken gehen, ohne je einen Fuss auf Boden zu setzen. Fussgänger werden mit Brücken über Strassen geleitet, Shopping Malls sind durch klimatisierte Skyways miteinander verbunden. Die Stadt ist engmaschig vernetzt, die Hälfte aller Einwohner lebt weniger als 500 Meter von einer U-Bahnstation entfernt, meist in sternförmigen Housing Projects, die ganze Schweizer Kleinstädte beheimaten könnten. Zugang per Türcode, der Fahrstuhl als Dorfplatz. Man lebt mit drei Mal weniger Wohnraum als bei uns. Die Wohnung als Rückzugsort, die Isolation (im französischen Wortsinn gemeint: „zur Insel machen“) hat hier weniger Bedeutung. Eine Einschränkung, die auch ein Verhindern des Auseinanderlebens mit sich bringt. Einsamkeit ist hier eine andere als bei uns. Wir sind keine Wissenschaftler, wir sind von einer Kunsthochschule – hier, um die Stadt zu erforschen. Bekannte sprechen von einer Swiss Invasion in der letzten Zeit und fragen mich: Are you a kind of Ambassador for your School? Ich weiss es auch nicht so genau. Diese Reise ist eine erste Landung. Die Gespräche mit Künstlern und Kreativen in diesen fünf Tagen, teils in Ateliers, teils in Bars, dienen der ersten Annäherung, sind mehr Erzählungen am Rand als eine wissenschaftlich-disziplinierte Case Study. Warum Hong Kong? Betrachtet man die Anzahl Publikationen, die um eine Hong Kong Identity kreisen, sind peakartige Zunahmen nach 1984 und um 1997 festzustellen: nach der Unterzeichnung der Joint Declaration und nach der Terminierung der Rückgabe der britischen Kolonialstadt Hong Kongs an China auf den 30. Juni 1997. Der Hong Konger Kulturwissenschaftler Ackbar Abbas spricht von der Liebe auf den letzten Blick und greift auf die Interpretation eines Beaudelaire-Gedichts von Walter Benjamin zurück: Diese ertappt den Verliebten im Moment des Sich-Verliebens, als die langhaarige Schönheit bereits wieder um die Ecke verschwindet. „Die Entzückung des Städters ist eine Liebe nicht sowohl auf den ersten als auf den letzten Blick.“ Déjà disparu, fasziniert zuschauen, wie etwas durch die Finger gleitet, ein Wandel der Kultur, der auf dem unmittelbaren Bevorstehen des Verschwindens gründet. Das Erkennen von Identität, sobald deren Existenz bedroht ist. 14


Abbas’ Culture and the Politics of Disappearance erschien mitten in der Phase des Umbruchs 1997. Die bevorstehende Übergabe an China war mit Ängsten verbunden: Verlust von Freiheiten, von Meinungsund Pressevielfalt, Tiananmen 1989 noch tief im Nacken, als düstere Vorahnung und Warnung einer möglichen Zukunft, rekolonialisiert, eine Nation mit Ablaufdatum, 300’000 verliessen die Stadt. 2014, zwei Jahrzehnte später, schätzt die Bevölkerung laut Umfragen erstmals politische Probleme höher ein als wirtschaftliche. Das Vertrauen in die Presse ist erschüttert, der Journalistenverband spricht vom „dunkelsten Jahr seit Dekaden“. Die Beziehung zwischen Hong Kong und China kennzeichnet 2014 ein Verlangen nach Autonomie, ein Recht auf Mitgestaltung der eigenen Zukunft bei ökonomischer Abhängigkeit. Der Aufstieg von Shanghai oder auch Wuhan und Chonqcing zu Super-Cities in Mainland China ist verbunden mit der Angst Hong Kongs, den Status als Asia’s World City zu verlieren, ein Verschwinden in China als Stadt unter vielen. Doch Hong Kong ist nicht China. Hong Kong ist Borderline-China. Keine Stadt im Wandel, sondern im Sog, im Space of Flow, eine Migrantenstadt, global vernetzter Ort des Transits: 1996 waren 40% der Bevölkerung ausserhalb Hong Kongs geboren. Hong Kong ist kulturell Borderline-China: In den 60er Jahren brachten Satelliten amerikanische Filme in die Wohnzimmer, Jukeboxes westliche Popmusik in Cafés. Das Mutterland China war derweil bis 1978 hinter closed doors, Hong Kong ein Flickenteppich aus Seide, Neon und Dollars. Während ’69 in San Francisco der Summer of Love verliebt wurde, schwemmte die Kulturrevolution Leichen und die blutigsten Unruhen der Stadtgeschichte nach Hong Kong. Mal antikolonialistisch, mal bestimmt nicht China, mal in Kolonie-Nostalgie, aber immer kantonesisch-solidarisch verbunden. Hong Kong ist eine Erfolgsgeschichte, eine der grossen urbanen Sensationen des 20. Jahrhunderts: Vom Fischerdorf zur dynamischsten Stadt Chinas. Vor 150 Jahren waren hier ein paar Dörfer und meerjungfrauenfürchtende Bootsmenschen, in ein paar Jahren verbinden Hochgeschwindigkeitszüge die Stadt mit dem grössten Eisenbahnnetz der Welt. Hong Kong wird Denkfabrik, Front-Office und Front-End eines südostasiatischen Wirtschaftspolypen. Die Entwürfe dieser Pearl River Delta Megalopolis füllen jetzt schon PDFs westlicher Urbanistik-Institute. Die Grenzen verschwinden: Um 40’000 wandern pro Jahr aus Mainland China zu, ein paar Tausend weniger als Kinder in der Stadt geboren werden. Hong Kong hat eine tiefere Geburtenrate als China, obwohl keine One-Child-Policy angewendet wird (das Wall Street Journal schätzt 2014, dass ein Kind in Hong Kong bis zum College über 600’000 Schweizer Franken kostet.) Die Stadt hat an Englisch-Kenntnissen eingebüsst, spricht nun besser Mandarin. Schwein, Fisch und Gemüse werden fast zu hundert Prozent aus China eingeführt. Die Hälfte aller Universitätsstudierenden sind aus Mainland. Man vermischt sich selten: Streber, die keine Teepause machen. Hong Konger demonstrieren, weil Restaurants ihre Menukarten mit simplifizierten statt mit traditionellen Schriftzeichen bedrucken. Virale Videoclips zirkulieren, in denen Touristen aus China in der MTR beim Essen gefilmt und auf ihr unangepasstes Benehmen aufmerksam gemacht werden. Man ist stolz auf die eigene Kultur. Zwischen Xenophobie und Intrusionsangst: Bloss ein Medien-Bias, vergleichbar mit den „unbeliebten Deutschen“ in der Schweiz? 15


„Hong Kong is disappearing“, wird mir der Hong Konger Künstler Kwan Sheung Chi in einem Gespräch an der Art Basel sagen, „ein Plan der Regierung in Peking“. Ich treffe mich diese Woche mit Künstlern, Jungunternehmern, Neo-Bohemiens, um eine Gesellschaftsdiagnose der ersten Landung zu entwerfen. In der Stadt, deren Neoliberalismus Milton Friedman als vorbildlich bezeichnet hat, in der laisser faire praktiziert und can do geglaubt wird, trifft Ökonomie diametral auf Kultur und Kunst. Der Wirtschaftssektor Creative Industries ist der meistgewachsene der letzten sieben Jahre. Die Stadt investiert in Bildung und Standortattraktivität als Cultural Metropolis, um gebildete, talentierte Kreative anzulocken und Brain Drain zu verhindern. Hong Kong ist eine Ökonomokratie, es herrscht ein Primat der Nützlichkeit und der Rendite: Wir können Hong Kong betrachten als geplante, Top-Down Creative City in Borderline-China. Die Stadt als Spiegel und Leinwand: Welche Auswirkungen haben die ökonomischen Bedingungen und Initiativen auf die lokalen Kreativen? Wo und wie entsteht hier Kultur unabhängig vom Markt? Zu guter Letzt und ganz zu Beginn ist Stadtforschung auch immer eine Forschung an sich selbst. Die erste Begegnung spiegelt eigene Wertvorstellungen, wird Träger von Sehnsuchts- und Angstfantasien. Ihre Untersuchung ist daher auch Selbstanalyse: Wir lernen unsere Wahrnehmungsmuster kennen. Deren Erkennen heisst auch, ein Bewusstsein zu entwickeln für das Entstehen kollektiver Selbst- und Fremdbilder. Die blinden Flecken der ersten Landung als Spiegel: das Verstehen des eigenen kulturellen, historischen und persönlichen Hintergrunds, des eigenen sozialen Kreises. Stadtforschung ist Arbeit an der entworfenen Fragestellung und Arbeit an der Identität des Forschenden zugleich. Wir stellen Fragen, wer wir nicht sind. Oder, wie bei Hans-Georg Gadamer: „Der Andere ist der Weg, wie man sich selbst erkennt.“ Wer bin ich in Hong Kong?

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Ich habe das Studium an einer Kunsthochschule begonnen, damit ich etwas habe, wenn ich 40 bin. Seit 2004 bin ich freischaffender Kreativwirtschaftler. Mein Handwerk habe ich alleine gelernt: Mein Instrument ist mein Computer. In den 1990er-Jahren waren Personal Computer für den Normalverbraucher erstmals in der Lage, eine Komposition mit über 30 Audio-Spuren wiederzugeben, zehn Jahre vorher war diese Infrastruktur nur für Studios mit KMU-Startkapital zugänglich. Die erste Generation von Bedroom-Producern, die Demokratisierung der Musikproduktion. Mein Einstieg in die Kreativwirtschaft passierte zufällig: Zeitgeist, ein Videoclip mit Massenwirkung in der Zeit vor Youtube und ein gutes Management. Das war mein Grundkapital. Die Jahre danach musste ich kein Struggling Artist sein, keiner Miete nachrennen oder Dinge tun, die nicht meiner Entwicklung oder Unterhaltung dienten. Ich hatte Glück. Zurücklehnen war selten, der Output hoch. Dazu Konzerte und DJ-Gigs, S-Chanf bis Chonqcing. Vor sieben Jahren bestimmte ich für mich, dass ich den Status Struggling Artist oder Neo-Bohemien nie für mich beanspruchen würde und legte Reserven an für eine Phase, in der der Wettbewerb und mein Können plus Netzwerk mittelfristig nicht mehr für den Lebensunterhalt sorgen können. Der Grossteil meines Einkommens ist erfolgsabhängig, skalierbar. Die Honorare und Gagen entsprechen 30–40%. Airplay, Tantiemen, Lizenzbeteiligungen variieren stark, je nach Zeitgeist, Nachfrage und Musikmarkt. Ich bin ein selbständiger, publikumsabhängiger Unternehmer. In der Schweiz gibt es immer wieder Musiker, die Überraschungserfolge erzielen, die kurz- bis mittelfristig finanziell mithalten können mit den Monatslöhnen erfolgreicher Kaderstellen der Privatwirtschaft. Im Grossen und Ganzen sind die Budgets und Verkaufszahlen in der Musikbranche in den letzten sieben Jahren kleiner geworden. Die Mediennutzung hat sich verändert, Tonträger verschwinden, aufgenommene Musik wird Allgemeingut, für 5 Dollar streambar von der Cloud. Ich bin der Letzte, der ein Strukturwandel-Lamento anstimmt, ob in der Musikindustrie oder dem Journalismus (quasi mein zweites, wenn auch sehr schwaches Standbein: Vor meiner Musikkarriere hatte ich ein Studium der Medienwissenschaften begonnen). Klar stelle ich mir das beruhigend vor, wenn ich wie in Belgien ein Grundeinkommen für Künstler beziehen könnte, immerhin um die 2’000 Schweizer Franken pro Monat. Um Weiterentwicklungsphasen zu überbrücken, um nicht komplett marktabhängig zu sein und gleichzeitig marktfähig zu bleiben. In einem Land, das bei Abstimmungen mehr Ferien für alle ablehnt, ist diese Vorstellung utopisch. Und ich verstehe das auch: Kreativer, Künstler, Musiker zu sein, die Passion zum Beruf machen – sich da hineinzudenken ist schwierig. Mehr arbeiten, halt früher aufstehen (obwohl auch nachts gearbeitet wird), dann wird das schon, und wenn nicht, dann einfach einen normalen Beruf erlernen und aufhören zu träumen. Idiotisch. Kein Raum für Leerläufe. Welche Kulturerzeugnisse dienen der Gesellschaft? Ob Werte festigend, hinterfragend, subversiv provozierend, Diskurse entfachend und belebend, ent- und zusammenspannend: Qualität in der Kultur braucht immer neue Kriterienkataloge, bessere Messbarkeit oder Gesellschaftsdiagnosen durch Handauflegen von respektierten Orientierungshelfern, die im rasend zirkulierenden Überangebot der mediatisierten Wissensgesellschaft Klarsicht bewahren. Blickt irgendwer noch durch und nach vorne? 17


Dass Kultur, Markt und Qualität sich nicht durch unsichtbare Hand magisch in Harmonie halten, ist klar. Der Markt ist – Marketing-Effekte abgezogen – zumindest demokratisch. Öffentliche Förderung liegt in den Händen weniger und ist so zufälliger als das dynamische Chaos des Marktes. Das funktioniert und funktioniert nicht. Für enthusiastische Kreativwirtschaftler mit Hang zur Selbstausbeutung zwischen 25 und 39 bedeutet es das Los und den Kick, als Basis für eine Familiengründung unter der Garantie der gleichen Freiheiten, Mobilität und Ausbildung für den Nachwuchs hingegen einen Lebensqualität raubenden Struggle. Ich würde gerne wieder arbeiten. Wenn ich momentan probiere, mir Langeweile vorzustellen, schaffe ich es nicht. Das ist zu lange her. Ich sehne mich nach Arbeit mit Langeweile-Potenzial und verdienten Feierabenden. Ich will meine Passion zum Hobby machen.

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We need a Riot Tag 2


Wir sitzen im Kreis auf gelben Plastikhockern mitten in der Strasse, es ist kurz nach 21:30 Uhr, die Strasse ist hell beleuchtet, eine Flutlichtlampe von einem anderen Restaurant blendet uns. Wir sind in der Tang Lung Street in Causeway Bay, einer schmalen Strasse direkt hinter der Hennessy Road, einer der meistbefahrenen auf Hong Kong Island. Seine Kolonialgeschichte erzählt Hong Kong mit Strassennamen: Governor John Pope Hennessy hatte um 1880 massgeblich Einfluss auf den Entwicklungsboom der jungen Stadt, er hob die Verbote für Chinesen auf, Land zu kaufen, Häuser zu bauen und überhaupt Geschäfte in der Stadt zu tätigen. Heute ist Hong Kongs Land zum grössten Teil in den Händen einer Handvoll einheimischer Tycoons, vier Grossfamilien, die ihr Grundkapital in den 1950er-Jahren erarbeiteten, damals mit Plastikblumen und dem Import von Reissverschlüssen, heute mit Lebensmittelläden- und Hotel-Ketten und Hong Kongs wertvollstem Gut: Boden. Dass der Wettbewerb um diesen nur von wenigen Big Players bestritten wird, liegt an den hohen Lease Premiums: Kapitalbeiträge, die – anders als in New York, London oder Paris – beim Erwerb einer Landesnutzungsgenehmigung anfallen. Die Stadt versteigert die Leases für einen Zeitraum von fünfzig Jahren, die Grundmiete für diese Dauer entspricht total nur 3%, die restlichen 97% (Beträge über 300 Millionen Schweizer Franken) sind beim Erwerb fällig. Eine Verlagerung der Hauptkosten auf eine Grundmiete würde den Wettbewerb vergrössern. Die Regierung hätte die Möglichkeit, non-monetäre Aspekte wie Stadtbild und Nachhaltigkeit mit zu beeinflussen, indem die Immobilienentwickler Gestaltungspläne vorlegen müssten. In den 1970er-Jahren war die Gegend um die Tang Lung Street ärmlich und schäbig, Triaden kontrollierten Bordelle, Spiel- und Opium-Höllen, auf der Strasse wurden Laternen verkauft und Bratpfannen geflickt. Seit der Errichtung des 16-stöckigen Times Square 1994, dem ersten vertikalen Shopping-Zentrum zwei Strassen weiter, ist das Quartier im Wandel: 24-Stunden Shopping, Dai Pai Dongs, traditionelle mobile Restaurant-Buden mit aufklappbaren Tischen und Plastikhockern auf der Strasse, die Nachtclubs der Armen, sind verschwunden. Dafür kocht Jamie Oliver in der Tang Lung Street italienisch und teuer. 2010 wurde in Causeway Bay die weltweit höchste Monatsmiete für ein Ladenlokal auf Strassenhöhe gezahlt (110’000 Schweizer Franken für 80 Quadratmeter). Gentrifizierung und Verdrängungsbewegungen verlaufen in der Schweiz vergleichsweise in Slow Motion. Hong Kong befindet sich im Dauerzustand der Erneuerung. “Each city is a beginning and a conclusion, only Hong Kong is forever a beginning”, sagt Regisseurin und Hong Kong-Film-Darling der Stunde, Flora Lau, in ihrem Dokumentarfilm Start from Zero (2013). Die Erneuerung von Industriegebieten nennt die Regierung Revitalisierung. Ursprünglich als erschwingliche Produktionsstätten für die Kreativindustrie gedacht, zum Beispiel für Film-Post-ProduktionsStudios und Musik-Studios in Kwun Tong und Künstlerateliers in Fo Tan, sind die wachsenden, unregulierten Mietkosten für einen Grossteil der Kleinbetriebe nicht mehr finanzierbar. Erst vor fünf Jahren hob die Regierung die teuren Gebühren für Lease Modifications auf, die Nutzungsänderungen von Immobilien. Dass die Umwandlung von Industriege20


bäuden in Apartments, Hotels und Büros momentan noch nicht dem gewohnten Tempo der radikalen Erneuerung in Hong Kong folgt, liegt auch an veralteten Regulierungen aus den 70er-Jahren: Weil mit Gas geheizt und gekocht wurde, muss auch heute noch jedes Badezimmer und jede Küche aus Sicherheitsgründen über ein Fenster verfügen. Viele Industriebetriebe verzichteten darauf. In der Tang Lung Street riecht es nach in Soya marinierten Gänsen und Austern-Omeletten. Auf unserem Plastiktisch stehen keine Blumen. Ein paar weisse Keramikschälchen, es gibt Broccoli, Frittiertes, frittiertes Huhn und Bier aus eiskalten Tsingtao-Flaschen (das bekannteste chinesische Bier ist deutsches Bier, erfahre ich später, erstmals gebraut 1903 in der „deutschen Musterkolonie“ Jiaozhou in SüdostChina). Unser Kellner spricht kein Englisch. Mehr als die Hälfte am Tisch spricht kantonesisch, der Rest ist aus Australien, Norwegen und der Schweiz. Man bestellt zusammen für alle. Essen ist hier immer kollektiv. Die Stadt hat gleich viele Restaurant-Sitzplätze wie Einwohner. Die Wohnungen sind klein, nur Reiche können sich eine Wohnung mit separatem Esszimmer leisten. Das Esszimmer verlegt sich auf die Strasse. Die Hälfte am Tisch hat Ackbar Abbas’ Culture and Politics of Disappearance gelesen. Mandy, Fotograf, Hong Konger, ist schlecht gelaunt: Heute wurde bekannt, dass im PMQ, einem ehemaligen Polizeiquartier, das zu einem Creative Hub umgebaut worden soll, Shops nun doch an etablierte Brands vermietet werden sollen, an Big Players wie den Modekonzern Giordano International mit jährlich 700 Millionen Schweizer Franken Umsatz. Angekündigt wurde das PMQ als Promotion für die lokale Kreativindustrie, mit 130 Shops für ausgewählte Hong Konger Talente aus den Bereichen Design, Mode und Kunst. Die Hollywood Road in Sheung Wan soll nach Regierungsplänen eine World Famous Creative Street werden. Nach der Eröffnung ein paar Monate später ergibt sich ein differenzierteres Bild: Die Shops der etablierten Brands im Parterre und im ersten Stock finanzieren die tiefen Mieten (20–30% des Marktwerts) der 100 Nachwuchs-Designer-Shops und Büros. Creative Economy ist Economy und kein öffentliches Kulturprogramm der Regierung. Die zentrale Lage in Sheung Wan erlaubt es den Jung-Unternehmern, von einer grossen Laufkundschaft zu profitieren und limitierte Nischenprodukte als Alternative, als edgy urban cool (Jute-Taschen mit Louis Vuitton just doesn’t look good on me) zu verkaufen und in einer Creative Mall neue Ideen zu entwickeln. Ein Ort des regen Austauschs mit Innovationspotenzial oder bloss ein weiterer Supermarkt? Ein grosses M, ohne Plus, markiert, wo dieser Abend später enden wird: Es gehört zur zukünftigen Luxus-Supermall Soundwill Midtown Plaza-II am anderen Ende der Tang Lung Street. Hier, im 17. Stock, wird heute die Absolut Art Bar eröffnet, exklusiv während der Art Basel. Eine Nacht vor dem Beginn der Kunstmesse, Einlass nur auf Einladung. Lange Warteschlangen, bis zu einer Stunde und bis über den roten Teppich hinaus in die Tang Lung Street, wird es erst in den nächsten Tagen geben. Heute Abend füllt sich der Raum spät, wenn DJs den auf den Raum geschriebenen Soundtrack, synthetische Flächen emulierter Klang21


erzeuger aus den siebziger Jahren bereits aufgelöst haben mit reduzierten Beats aus Los Angeles. Der Kreis, der irgendwo Berührungspunkte mit Kunst hat, Kreative, Künstler, vernetzte Neo-Bohemiens, ist übersichtlich. Man kennt sich. Nadim Abbas, der dieses Jahr das Raumkonzept entworfen hat, wurde von Adrian Wong empfohlen, dem Künstler des letzten Jahres. Die Absolut Art Bar wird in Hong Kong vom französisch-schwedischen Vodka-Hersteller Absolut Vodka finanziert. Bis zu einer halben Million Schweizer Franken soll sie dieses Jahr gekostet haben. Allein die Raummiete an dieser Adresse würde normalerweise bei 40’000 bis 60’000 Schweizer Franken liegen. Die Soundwill Holdings Limited, der Immobilienentwickler, will den Raum auch in Zukunft der lokalen Kunstund Kreativszene zur Verfügung stellen, in Zusammenarbeit mit Sponsoren aus der Privatwirtschaft, für Art and Creativity beyond boundaries. Die Joint Venture von Kunst und Werbung ist nichts Neues. Absolut Vodka selbst war es, die 1985 eine der ersten erfolgreichen Kampagnen mit Kunst realisierte, Warhols Portrait der Vodka-Flasche, eine Dekade nachdem der Medienkritiker McLuhan die Werbung zur „bedeutendsten Kunstform des 20. Jahrhunderts“ empor gehoben hatte. Nadim Abbas hat den jungfräulichen Raum in eine Bunkerlandschaft verwandelt, abgedunkelt und zugestellt mit Reissäcken. Man trinkt Granatapfel-Vodka-Cocktails aus Vakuumbeuteln. Blutbeutel, ein Hit. Apocalypse Postponed. Die Drinks gibt es à discrétion, wie beim Original in Basel. Bunkerstimmung nach einem atomaren Super-Gau kommt nicht auf. Bedrückend wirkt der Raum nicht. Der weite Blick auf das Neonmeer Causeway Bays hinter der Bartheke lässt wenig Endzeitvorstellungen zu. Wir sind in einem Luxusbunker. Es ist hier zwischen Reissäcken, wo ich in den nächsten Tagen die meisten Einblicke in Lebenswelten zwischen Kowloon und Chai Wan kriegen werde. Zum Beispiel Joyce, 28. Joyce lebt in North Point, in einer Alterssiedlung, auf der Türklingel steht der Name ihrer Grossmutter. Die lebt nicht hier. Eine Wohnung für Rentner, 100 Franken pro Monat. Ein Raum, vielleicht 20 Quadratmeter und eine Küche. Die Katze behält sie trotz Allergie. Sie atmet schwer, sie sagt, die Stadt mache sie krank. Ihr Lieblingsfrühstück sind weisse Toasts mit Spiegeleiern, im kleinen Restaurant am Hafen, gleich bei der Wohnung. Sie mag Björk und David Bowie – The Man who fell to Earth. Sie wollte nach Italien auswandern, dort lernen, Hüte zu machen. Ihr Freund aus Mailand hat sie verlassen, Italien ist nur noch Nebel, entleuchtet, nur noch verdrängte Erinnerung an Momente glücklicher Imaginationsspielerei, ein Traumrelikt zerstäubt in 20 Quadratmetern. Ihr Schlafzimmer ist Wohnzimmer und Atelier zugleich. Im Abschlussjahr ihres Fashion Design-Studiums gewann sie einen Award, seither arbeitet sie selbständig, Einzelanfertigungen für Werbeshootings, sie schlägt sich durch mit kleinen Styling-Jobs. Wenn eine Deadline naht, sourced sie Stoffe in Sham Shui Po in Kowloon, dort gibt es Strassen, in denen nur Manschetten verkauft werden, temporäre Zelte unter Autobahnübergängen, gefüllt mit Stoffen aus Indien, Bangladesh, China. Läden mit kleiner Auswahl an hochwertigen Stoffen aus Japan. Meist nimmt sie das Taxi zurück nachhause, mit zwei grossen Stoffrollen auf dem Sitz neben ihr. Durch den Unterwassertunnel zurück auf die Insel. Ihr indischer Schnei22


der ist in Jordan, kurz vor Abgabe ist sie viel dort. Für ein Lifestyle-Magazin fliegt sie an die Fashion Weeks in Paris und Mailand. Ihre Grossmutter hat ihr geraten, immer zu lächeln, das sei wichtig. Sie macht sich Sorgen um ihre Zukunft, sie arbeitet viel, verdient wenig. Ihre Mutter redet laut am Telefon, es geht fast immer um die Arbeit. Den Vater sieht sie selten. Er lebt in Shanghai, Immobilien. Täglich raucht sie selbstgedrehte Joints aus dem Fenster, keine starken, sagt sie. Danach habe sie immer rote Augen. Sie tanzt wie ein Kind, unkontrolliert, vielleicht ein wenig ungestüm. Sie würde gerne auf eine Insel ziehen, auf eine der vierzig, die Hong Kong umgeben. Lantau oder die autofreie Lamma Island. Bryan, Ende 20, lebt mit seiner Mutter auf Lamma, ein Wasserfall hinter dem Haus. Die Fähren fahren täglich, bis drei Uhr morgens. Als ich ihn frage, ob er in den nächsten Tagen mal Zeit für mich hat, sagt er no, no, no. Er betrachtet meinen Kopf. Mein Haarschnitt sei doch ok. Ich sage ihm, dass es um meine Arbeit geht, um sein Hong Kong. Seine Augen leuchten, er erzählt. Von den Zwangsumsiedlungen wegen dem Rail Express Link, der China mit Hong Kong verbinden soll, Endstation West Kowloon Cultural District. Ganze Dörfer wurden zerstört, ein Teil der Bevölkerung hat sich mit den teils seit Generationen dort lebenden Familien solidarisiert, ein Grossteil der Bevölkerung spricht sich jedoch für die Opfer im Namen des wirtschaftlichen Wachtums aus. Prosperity ist der von den Planungsbüros berechnete Wohlstand. Alle werden profitieren, sagen Befürworter, die sozialen Ungleichheiten in der Stadt sind so gross wie nie zuvor. Der Gini-Index Hong Kongs nähert sich 0.6, ein Vorzeichen sozialer Unruhen. Obwohl ich mit der Absicht nach Hong Kong gekommen bin, mehr über den Wandel von Kultur und Kunst in der Stadt zu erfahren, die potentiellen Auswirkungen eines Multimilliarden-Kulturquartiers zu erahnen, sind mir seine vier Worte am meisten geblieben: „We need a riot.“ Und es scheint mir kein jugendlich-kurzsichtiger Wunsch nach Rebellion gegen ein dämonisiertes Establishment zu sein. Vielleicht ist es auch die Überzeugung, mit der er die Worte sagt. Ruhig und bestimmt. „We need a riot.“ Ein paar Monate später werden Tausende Studenten die Strassen Centrals und Mong Koks über Wochen blockieren. In Ikea-Betten übernachten, zwischen riesigen Panzern aus Karton und gelben Origami-Regenschirmen. Der Regenschirm ist das Symbol der Bewegung: Er bietet Schutz vor Typhoons, Sonne und Pfefferspray. Das Umbrella Movement protestiert ohne Gewalt, schafft es aus Hong Kongs Businesszentrum auf alle Titelseiten weltweit, China ausgenommen. Ein Protest in Hong Kong ist immer ein Protest gegen China: Der Pekinger Regierung wird nicht vertraut. Es geht um die Mitbestimmung der Wahl des Stadtobersten. Nach dem jetzigen System bestimmt ein 1200-köpfiges Komitee drei Peking-loyale Kandidaten, aus denen das Stimmvolk den Regierungschef wählen kann. Automobilhersteller Henry Ford wird deshalb öfters in Web-Kommentaren paraphrasiert: You can have any color as long as it’s black. Markus Ackeret spricht in der NZZ von einer „Volkswahl in engem Korsett“. Ein Teil der Bevölkerung schätzt die polite revolution schon vor Beginn als geschäftsschädigende Zeitverschwendung ein. Gegner sorgen sich um Hong Kongs Image. Occupy, die Global Edition, in Zürich oder New York, wird seit viralen Videos, in denen Protestierende den Grund ihres Protests nicht benennen können, eher belächelt. Im Westen herrscht Hippie-Verdacht, die 99%, 23


die von den 1% regiert werden, identifizieren sich nicht mit den Kartonschild-Rebellen vor den Grossbanken. Kein drohendes Verschwinden, keine kollektive Identität. Die Umbrella Revolution ist nicht Occupy Wall Street. In Hong Kong haben sich die Wochen der Regenschirme ins kollektive Bewusstsein eingeschrieben, vor allem bei der jüngeren Generation und ihren rasend zirkulierenden elektronischen Bild-Multiplikatoren mit Kommentar-Funktion. FUCK 689 (689 steht für die 689 Stimmen, mit denen der aktuelle Regierungschef gewählt wurde), FUCK 689, auf einem Autoschild in Mong Kok, wo mehr Pfefferspray zum Einsatz kam als in Central. Mong Kok, Kowloon, eine Station nördlich von Yau Ma Tei.

Michael Leung lebt in Yau Ma Tei, dem „wahren Hong Kong“, wie der Schweizer Dokumentarfilmer Luc Schaedler in Made in Hong Kong (1997) feststellte. In Mittelwest-Kowloon glänzt nichts wie in Central. Wer schon in China war, wird sagen, dass hier (und im nördlichen Sham Shui Po) Hong Kong am ehesten China ist. Yau Ma Tei ist ein permanenter Jahrmarkt für Alltagsgegenstände, Holzlöffel, verbotene Laserpointer und Dampf-Körbe aus Bambus. Yau Ma Tei ist gritty, war mal Opium- und Salzschmuggel-Epizentrum zwischen Hong Kong und Mainland. Triaden agieren hier heute nur noch versteckt, verkaufen obscene discs unter Ladentheken in der Temple Street. Yau Ma Tei wird bei westlichen Touristen immer beliebter. Diese Tendenz werde sich noch verstärken, meint Michael. Mit dem Entstehen des angrenzenden West Kowloon Cultural District 24


wird auch Yau Ma Tei einen Auftrieb erleben, sowohl bezüglich Besuchern als auch Mietpreisen. Dass das Multimilliarden-Kulturviertel bloss eine grosse Show für den Westen sei, ist die Meinung vieler, doch nicht diejenige von Michael. Er sieht Potenzial in den Räumlichkeiten. Was die Nutzung und die Wirkungsweise angeht, sei es jedoch zu früh, um Aussagen zu machen. Die städtische Diskussion um den WKCD verläuft seit 1998 zwischen Euphorie und Skepsis. Es wird spekuliert, gestritten, angepriesen, versprochen und ignoriert. Die Verunsicherung ist gross. Der WKCD hat viele Personalwechsel erlebt: Michael Lynch, aktueller CEO des WKCD und ehemaliger Direktor der Oper in Sydney, hat bereits angekündigt, dass er bei der Eröffnung des Museum for Visual Culture M+, des Kernstücks, nicht mehr an Bord sein werde. Doch Unsicherheit und Proteste gab es vor Regierungs-Grossprojekten schon immer. Fertig gestellt werden soll das Kulturviertel 2030. Bis dahin bleibt viel Zeit und Raum für Spekulation. Derweil kümmert sich Michael um Community Building in Yau Ma Tei, zusammen mit dem Künstlerkollektiv Wooferten in deren Space in der Shanghai Street. Kwan Sheung Chi, den ich am nächsten Tag an der Art Basel treffen werde, ist ein Gründungsmitglied von Wooferten. Deren Space ist kein neutraler White Cube, sondern hat sich zu einem multifunktionalen neighbourhood drop-in centre entwickelt, einer Begegnungsstätte unter dem Dach der Kunst, im Geist der sozialen Plastik. Jeder Mensch ist ein Künstler, Anwohner werden eingeladen, Workshops zu halten. Michael ist eine Stadtbekanntheit. Eloquent vor der Kamera, telegen, britisches Englisch mit Schalk. Sein Urban-Farming-Projekt HK Farm, das er zusammen mit Glenn Ellingsen und Matt Edmondson auf Dächern Kwun Tongs betreibt, zeigt ein alternatives Bild Hong Kongs auf BBC oder in Publikationen der ZHdK. Michael Leung ist eine Anlaufstelle, ein Vernetzungskünstler. Doziert Design, züchtet Honig, ist Yau Ma Teis Kurator für creativecity.hk. Im August diesen Jahres wird er im Kulturzentrum Oi! seine Dokumentation über den „Mango King“ präsentieren, einem obdachlosen Guerilla-Farmer in Yau Ma Tei, der auf dem Boden des zukünftigen WKCD halblegal Mangos, Süsskartoffeln und Lychees zur Selbstversorgung kultiviert.

25


Disappearing

Tag 3


„Ich hasse die Kunstmesse. Es ist hier furchtbar für einen Künstler.“ Wir treffen Kwan Sheung Chi an der Art Basel, unmittelbar nach dem VIP Brunch am Tag der Eröffnung. Es ist Private Preview, das Publikum international und ausgewählt. Ein Blogger im Lederrock, geschminkte Schönheiten in durchsichtigen Blusen und jede Menge Ü45er vom Typus Kantonalbank Global. Überraschend jung wird das Publikum der Art Basel Hong Kong in den nächsten Tagen sein. Für die vermehrt an Kultur und Kunst interessierte, urbane Post-80er-Jugend Chinas gibt es eine Bezeichnung: 文藝青年, wenyi qingnian, chinesische Hipster, die nach Individualismus streben. Wie im Westen bezeichnen sich auch chinesische Hipster nicht als solche. Das ist Teil der Distinktion.

Wir verabreden uns in der UBS Collector’s Lounge. Der Käufer ist König im deep pocket market. Man sitzt an Smartphones in Sesseln von Herman Miller oder schart sich stehend in kleinen Grüppchen geballter Einkaufskraft. Audemars Pigue bewirbt mit replizierten Jurafelsbrocken 30’000 Franken teure Uhren. Der aufwändigen Auftrags-Videoinstallation links wird kaum Aufmerksamkeit geschenkt, man begutachtet die ausgestellten Armbanduhren in beleuchteten Vitrinen rechts. Chis Werk doing it with Mrs Kwan… making Pepper Spray wird dieses Jahr an der Art Basel in der neuen Video-Sektion gezeigt: Eine lockere Kochsendung, in der seine Frau vorführt, wie man Pfefferspray herstellt. In einem anderen Teil dieser Serie steht Chi selber vor der Kamera und stellt den Exit-Bag vor: eine Erstickungstüte als günstige Methode des un-assistierten Selbstmords. Am Ende seiner nächsten Ausstellung wird der 34-Jährige sein Blut versteigern. Nachdem er eine Woche keine feste Nahrung zu sich genommen, nachts auf Schlaf verzichtet, keine Zigaretten geraucht und keinen Alkohol konsumiert hat. Die Galerie ist 24 Stunden geöffnet und Chis Zuhause in der Zeit. Ein Plädoyer an die ökonomische Nutzlosig28


keit, eine Kulturproduktion ohne materielles Produkt, das verkauft werden kann. Einziger Geldtransfer: Die Blutversteigerung am letzten Tag. Der Struggling Artist, der sich der Marktlogik nicht unterwirft. Die Front der Galerie wurde für diese Ausstellung herausgerissen: All Access, das Publikum soll aktiv teilnehmen. Der Künstler führt durch Diskussionsrunden und Film Screenings, die Galerie wird umfunktioniert zur interaktiven Begegnungsstätte. Chi will aufmerksam machen auf die Funktionen des Künstlers als nicht-unternehmerischer Produzent von Gedankengut, als unabhängige Stimme im öffentlichen Diskurs. ART ist in Hong Kong in Caps Lock geschrieben, gemeint sind damit in der öffentlichen Wahrnehmung meistens Erscheinungen des internationalen Kunstmarktes, des drittgrössten nach London und New York. Chi beklagt sich, dass Kunst in Hong Kong noch immer nur einen kleinen Teil der Bevölkerung erreicht. „Als Künstler fühle ich eine Distanz zwischen den Künstlern und der ärmeren Bevölkerung Hong Kongs.“ Von den geplanten Mammutprojekten wie dem West Kowloon Cultural District werden aus seiner Sicht nur Wenige profitieren. Ein Fünftel der Hong Konger lebt unter der Armutsgrenze, Arbeitszeiten sind nicht geregelt, Gewerkschaften schwach, Freizeit rar. Doch Chi ist pragmatisch, sieht langfristig Potential für solche Kultur-Grossprojekte. Er sieht vor allem dann Nutzen, wenn die Institutionen den direkten Kontakt zur Bevölkerung suchen. Für eine TeaserAktion des entstehenden M+-Museums, M+ Mobile, liess er 2012 vom Produktionsbudget eine Hong Kong Core Values-Goldmünze pressen. Auf den Strassen Yau Ma Teis in Kowloon fragte er Passanten nach ihren Vorstellungen der Grundwerte Hong Kongs. Wer am Ende per Los gezogen wurde, durfte entscheiden zwischen der Goldmünze oder dem Wahrwerden der notierten Grundwerte. Auf dem Gewinnerzettel stand Long Hair. Leung Kwok-hung Long Hair ist ein Che Guevara-T-Shirt tragendes Urgestein der Hong Konger Pan-Demokraten, das im Kongress mit Bananen auf Abgeordnete wirft oder mit Hell Money, dem Papiergeld, das für Verstorbene verbrannt wird. Ein Protest gegen die fehlende staatliche Fürsorge für die ältere Bevölkerung Hong Kongs. Er ist eine Symbolfigur, ein Volksheld, vielleicht eine Art Blocher der Hong Konger Demokratie. Long Hair behielt die Münze für sich, konkreter: für seine Partei. Er versteht seine Skandal-Aktionen im Parlament als Promotion für die Anliegen seiner Partei, in erster Linie für ein allgemeines Wahlrecht und mehr soziale Gerechtigkeit. Im Sommer dieses Jahres wurden Mails geleaked, aus denen hervorgeht, dass er vom Medienmogul Jimmy Lai, Verleger des grössten Nicht-Pro-Beijing-Mediums Apple Daily grössere Spenden erhielt, die er nicht deklarierte. Ein rentables Austauschgeschäft im Namen der Demokratie: Virale Videos gegen Parteispenden. Eine Untersuchung läuft gegen beide. Chi sitzt mit grossem schwarzen Rucksack auf dem grauen Sofa vor uns. Er hat Foto-Equipment dabei für einen kleinen Auftrag eines Magazins. Letztes Jahr gewann er den gut dotierten Hugo Boss Asia Art Award. Zuvor arbeitete er auch schon mal ein halbes Jahr bei McDonalds, um seinen Künstlerberuf zu finanzieren. Lehrer werden wie viele seiner Kollegen könne er sich nicht vorstellen. Ich frage ihn, wie er Hong Kongs Zukunft sehe. „Schlecht. Auch das Essen wird schlechter.“ 29


Und privat? „Ich bin pessimistisch, was Hong Kongs Zukunft unter dem Einfluss der Pekinger Regierung angeht.“ Ob er mir zum Abschluss ein paar positive Veränderungen seit dem Handover nennen kann? Er macht eine lange Pause. „Ein paar sehen welche. Ich nicht.“

30


Besuch bei Jaffa Tag 4


Jaffa Lams Werke sind grösser als sie, genug gross, um sich hinter ihnen zu verstecken, von ihnen umarmt zu werden. Riesige Kugeln, bemalt mit Bleistiftbällen, ein gebogenes Schwimmsprungbrett aus Holz, Papierflugzeuge aus weissem Blech. Sie arbeitet mit Gras und Ziegelstein aus West Kowloon, statt Leim benutzt sie Wachs, geschmolzen im Reiskocher.

Wir besuchen die Künstlerin in ihrem Atelier in Fo Tan, Sha Tin, New Territories. In den Strassen riecht es nach Fish Balls, die man in Hot Pots kocht. Seltsam gummige Konsistenz, kein Ding für Touristen. Äusserlich bildet die grösste Künstlergemeinschaft Hong Kongs einen Inkognito-Art-Cluster: keine White Cube Galleries auf Strassenhöhe, keine Cafés, um sich via Wifi im Fo Tan Art Village zu taggen. Einmal im Jahr öffnen die Ateliers die Türen für das Publikum, 6’000 bis 10’000 Besucher in zwei Wochen. Wirklich vorstellen kann man sich diesen Menschenauflauf hier nicht: Die 70 bis 100 Ateliers sind verteilt auf ein paar einzelne Warehouses, die Gänge dazwischen eng und zugestellt. Über 200 Künstler haben in FoTan ihre Ateliers. Jaffa Lam hat sich ihres vor ein paar Jahren gekauft, bevor sich die Preise aufgrund der Revitalisierung vervierfachten. Ein Austausch untereinander findet statt, wenn auch nur vereinzelt. Trotzdem ein Gefühl der Solidarität: Nachts zu wissen, dass noch andere ein paar Wände weiter auch nachdenken, verwerfen, verzweifeln, feiern. Arbeiten. Egal, ob um an die Spitze zu gelangen, zum Durchbruch und an internationale Ausstellungen, oder einfach, weil es getan werden muss, weil man sonst keine Rolle im Gefüge der Stadt finden kann oder will. 70 Prozent der Künstler sind zwischen 20 und 40, über die Hälfte verdient umgerechnet weniger als 1’800 Schweizer Franken im Monat. Der grösste Teil ist doppel-beruflich Künstler: Shop-Angestellte, Eisverkäufer oder, wie in Jaffa Lams Fall: Teilzeit-Lehrerin, ein bis zwei Tage pro Woche. 32


Jaffa Lam will unabhängig bleiben, will Vorbild sein für ihre Studierenden, vorleben, dass man in Hong Kong auch Künstler sein kann, ohne in der Logik des Markts funktionieren zu müssen. Sie mag weder Wettbewerbssituationen noch Networking zum Selbstzweck. „Ich weiss nicht, wie ich mich an grossen Dinners verhalten soll.“ Ihre Arbeitsweise nennt sie Micro Economy. Arbeitet sie mit Stahl, dann mit den Werkstätten im Parterre statt mit den billigeren Alternativen in Mainland China. Für ihre Parachute-Serie stellte sie arbeitslose Näherinnen der Hong Kong Women Worker’s Association ein. Fallschirme ermöglichen eine sanfte Landung: Für die Low Skilled Arbeiterinnen wie für andere Verlierer des Arbeitsmarkts in Hong Kong spannt die Stadt wenig Netze. Die Industriejobs haben sich nach Mainland China oder Bangladesch verlagert, für die älteren Low Skilled Workers gibt es wenig Möglichkeiten, in der kompetitiven, wissensbasierten Wirtschaft und ihrer jungen, gut ausgebildeten Arbeiterschaft einen Platz zu finden. In der freiesten Wirtschaft der Welt erfolgt auch der freie Fall dem Prinzip der positiven Nicht-Intervention. Die riesigen Fallschirme Jaffa Lams sind Flickenteppiche aus gefundenen Regenschirmen, die durch Typhoons zerstört wurden. Regenschirme, die keinen Schutz mehr geben können. Die Care Orientation zieht sich durch Jaffa Lams Werk. In Bangladesh stellte sie Portraits von lokalen Arbeitern in staubigen Jacken aus. Hommagen an Anonyme, mit Gold umrahmt. Es geht ihr um sozialen Selbstwert und Menschenwürde, es sind kleine Bewegungen in kleinen Gemeinschaften, Schulungen der Achtsamkeit und des gegenseitigen Respekts, Plädoyers für soziale Inklusion, urbanes Miteinander: Kunst als Dienst an der Gesellschaft. Mit Vielen hat sie es sich verspielt in der Stadt, meint Jaffa Lam. Sie spricht von Entscheidungsträgern, Leuten mit Einfluss, wie dem Direktoren des zukünftigen Vorzeigemuseums M+, Lars Nittve. Oder Organisatoren ihrer Holz-Workshops, die ihr raten, mehr davon zu veranstalten. Sie findet das jedoch konträr zur Absicht ihrer Recycling-Arbeit mit Holz und kritisiert ihren Arbeitgeber öffentlich: Mehr Workshops bedeutet mehr Abfall. Wenn Nachhaltigkeit gelehrt werden soll, seien solche Workshops widersprüchlich, bei allen guten Absichten der Kunstvermittlung. Die Vierzigjährige spricht viel und schnell, hört aber auch aufmerksam zu. Wird laut, wenn sie auf einzelne Galeristen der Stadt angesprochen wird: „This guy, I hate him!“ Ihre Mutter habe ihr immer wieder gesagt, sie solle sich den Hong Kongern anpassen, den Leuten keine hard feelings geben. Be smooth. Jaffa Lam kam mit zwölf aus Fujian, Südostchina, nach Hong Kong, mit Schwester und Mutter. Letztere arbeitet hart, drei Jobs gleichzeitig. Nachmittags in der Textilfabrik, nachts als Krankenschwester, danach Lebensmittel einkaufen und in den zwölften Stock schleppen und der Schwester zum Kochen übergeben. Für den Kunstpreis in der Sekundarschule lobt die Mutter die junge Jaffa. Den Wunsch, Künstlerin zu werden, redet sie ihr nicht aus. Der Arbeitswille, das Aufopfern ihrer Mutter hat Jaffa Lam geprägt. Sie arbeitet, soviel sie kann. Bereits jetzt stehen für Mai 2015 schon fünf Ausstellungen in ihrer Agenda, dazu organisiert sie Austauschprogramme, trifft sich wöchentlich mit der Hong Kong Women Worker’s Association. „Niemand will Fehler machen, wenn man gesehen 33


hat, wie hart jemand für einen gearbeitet hat. Ich will für meine Familie sorgen können.“ Sie sagt: Ein Kind grosszuziehen sei ein Kunstwerk. Für die Kunst verzichte sie darauf. Immer wieder laden sie westliche Institutionen ein. Die Kunst hat Jaffa Lam durch die ganze Welt geführt, New York, Kenya, Toronto, Hamburg. Auf die Frage nach der prägendsten Erfahrung erzählt sie von den zehn Tagen in Bangladesch: Da sei der Kontrast zur Lebenssituation in Hong Kong am grössten gewesen. Transkultureller Austausch zur Legitimation der eigenen Umstände. Zehn Tage Meditation zur Demut. Sie schwärmt vom Zufallsmoment beim Aufeinandertreffen in internationalen Austauschprojekten, den Dynamiken, die ungedacht Neues zum Vorschein bringen. Chaos. Wir wollen sie einladen an den Public Talk am nächsten Tag im Connecting Space der ZHdK in North Point, Hong Kong Island. Unseren Ort des Austauschs. Sie bedankt sich und lädt uns im Gegenzug zu ihrem Treffen mit der Hong Kong Women Worker’s Association ein. Die Termine kreuzen sich. Bevor wir uns verabschieden, zeigt sie uns ihr Stammrestaurant in einem Shopping Center, neben einem Spielwarenladen. Curry-Nudeln für zwei Franken. Wir sind die einzigen hier, es ist ruhig. Ich stelle mir das künftige Toni-Areal der ZHdK vor, die Bibliothek mit gepolsterten Sesseln und weitem Ausblick, Kantinen mit Avocado-Sandwiches, Cafés, eine Bar mit Basilikum-Cocktails und global-urbaner Musik mit leichter Schwermut. Sehr gemütlich. Kunst ist Arbeit, ein Struggle, ein Aufopfern. Stahl schweissen.

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Connecting Space Tag 5


Die Stadtforschung endet am anderen Ende des Tunnels: Im Connecting Space der ZHdK in North Point, Hong Kong Island, an der 18–20 Fort Street.

Die Fort Street gibt es seit der frühesten Kolonialzeit. Um 1880 war hier die Küstenbefestigungsanlage der Briten, am nördlichsten Punkt von Hong Kong Island: Vier Kanonen und ein Munitionslager, um die junge Victoria City vor Angriffen Chinas zu schützen. Der Connecting Space liegt auf dem Grund des jahrhundertealten Dorfes Tsat Tsz Mui, gebaut auf sieben Felsen, die der Volkserzählung nach entstanden sind, nachdem sich hier sieben Schwestern Hand in Hand ins Meer stürzten. Die sieben Felsen und das Land zwischen dem Connecting Space und dem Meer wurden in den 1920er Jahren aufgeschüttet, reclaimed, um Raum zu schaffen für eine wachsende Industrie: eine Glasfabrik, eine Druckerei, ein Kerosin-Öl-Depot. North Point als Ort der Rekreation, mit Bambuspavillons und Yacht Club an der Küste, wandelte sich in den 1950er-Jahren zum dicht besiedelten Handelsviertel. Flüchtlinge des chinesischen Bürgerkrieges brachten Kapital wie Geschick, aus North Point wurde Little Shanghai. Heute sind nach mehreren Episoden des Urban Renewals, der Public Housing Programs, um die explosionsartig wachsende Bevölkerung unterzubringen, von den Old Shops Little Shanghais nicht mehr viele zu sehen. Steigende Mietzinse erhöhen zusätzlich den Druck auf Kleinbetriebe. 15’000 Schweizer Franken kostet in der Fort Street die Monatsmiete für einen Shop mit 5.8 Meter-Strassenfront auf Street Level. Das können sich nur wenige leisten: In der Stadt mit dem geringsten Anteil an Autobesitzern aller Industrieländer bauen Garagen hier Luxuskarosserien um, ein vegetarisches Restaurant serviert Crevetten mit Pampelmuse in grossen Metalllöffeln, und eine Schweizer Kunsthochschule bietet einen weiten Raum für 36


Kunst, eine Insel der Anonymität, ganz in weiss. Ganz in weiss, ein noch unbeschriebenes Blatt. Der Connecting Space der ZHdK in Hong Kong ist ein offener Raum. Durch die Rolltore lässt er sich mit dem Aussenbereich verbinden. Der innen wie aussen verwendete rohe Asphalt oder Beton unterstützt die Verbindung von neutralem Kunstraum und belebter Strasse. Mädchen in türkisen Schuluniformen spähen beim Vorbeigehen kurz hinein, eine Frau mit vier weissen Einkaufssäcken bleibt stehen. Der Raum ist noch nicht angeschrieben. Sie fragt uns nicht, was hier ist, wir gehen nicht auf sie zu. Besonders viele Locals sind nicht gekommen: Es ist Donnerstag, 18:00 Uhr, das Zielpublikum ist noch am Arbeiten. Die Hong Kong-Chinesen arbeiten täglich durchschnittlich 1.5 Stunden länger als die Schweizer, jeder Zehnte über 60 Stunden pro Woche. (Eine Änderung der Arbeitszeitenregelung ist in Public Consulting, erste Ergebnisse werden 2016 erwartet.) Für den Grossteil der Bevölkerung bleibt wenig Zeit für Podiumsdiskussionen über Kunst. Nach dem Public Talk versammeln sich die Anwesenden auf dem Vorplatz. Der Raum ist noch nicht klimatisiert, zu heiss. Zu kalt, wenn man vor den kurzfristig gemieteten Ventilatoren sitzt. Hong Kong wird permanent unterkühlt. 冷氣機, Kaltluftmaschinen, beanspruchen im Sommer bis zu 60% de s städtischen Stromverbrauchs. Vor dem Space ist es angenehm warm, wie die gesamte Woche schon. 25 Grad bei 60% Luftfeuchtigkeit. Der stellvertretende Schweizer Generalkonsul Erwin mit Schnauz und Fotoapparat um den Hals, ein Kumpeltyp (ein Kollege: he looks like a typical Swiss tourist), hat für Wein gesorgt. Erwin kenne ich bereits: Im März hat er noch auf der ChinaTour meiner Band auf der Bühne fotografiert und geklatscht, in der Academy for Performing Arts in Wan Chai. Danach im Keller des Hotels eine Party geschmissen für alle, mit Tacos und Gin Tonic. Für rhythmische Livemusik ist der geöffnete Innenraum des Connecting Space nicht gemacht. Die vom Konsul geladene Band Europa. Neue Leichtigkeit spielt ihren Rumba der Dekadenz ohne Publikum. Der White Cube verschmiert akzentuierte Schläge, die Message der neuen Leichtigkeit, der Wortwitz kommt nicht an. Der Raum ist lauter als der Sender. Die Stimmung vor dem Space ist heiter. Hier treffe ich den lokalen Künstler Lee Kit (36), mit Zigarette und bis zum Rand gefülltem Rotweinglas. 2013 hat er alleine Hong Kong an der Biennale in Venedig vertreten. Im Mittelpunkt seiner Ausstellung standen zwei traditionelle Hong Konger Security Booths, die er einschiffen liess. Einen davon mit Sonnenschirm auf dem Dach: Ein Motiv, das er lange schon realisieren wollte. Medial war es die erfolgreichste Hong Konger Präsenz an der Biennale. Der Summary of the Evaluation Report on the Venice Art Biennale 2013 des Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC) zählte 109 Media Reports, so viele wie noch nie. Es war die erste Kollaboration des HKADC mit einer externen Institution, in diesem Fall mit dem M+. Zur Eröffnung organisierte Chefkurator und Museumsdirektor Lars Nittve ein Gala-Dinner zu Ehren Lee Kits im Fischmarkt Venedigs, mit über 200 Gästen aus Nittves erweitertem Netzwerk: Kuratoren, Kunstkritiker, Museumsdirektoren und internationale Kunstsammler wie Uli Sigg. Die Ausstellung und deren mediale Strahlkraft diente beiden 37


Institutionen: Zum einen repräsentierte Lee Kits Ausstellung die Hong Konger Kunstszene in der internationalen Kunstwelt, zum anderen fungierte sie als internationales Debüt des gemäss aktuellem Planungsstand 2018 eröffnenden M+, mit der weltweit grössten Sammlung an chinesischer Gegenwartskunst. Die Kosten, 10 Millionen HK$, ein historisches Rekord-Budget der Hong Konger Repräsentation an der Biennale, wurden geteilt. Schlecht aufgenommen wurde die HKADC/M+-Biennale in der Hong Konger Kunstszene. Nicht wegen dem respektierten Lee Kit, sondern wegen des Entscheides des HKADC, auf eine öffentliche Ausschreibung zu verzichten. Zuvor wurden die Kuratoren aufgrund eingesandter Vorschläge gewählt. Bei einer Podiumsdiskussion im gefüllten Fringe Club stellten sich die Verantwortlichen des ADC und des M+ den Fragen und Vorwürfen. Zu einer Verständigung kam es nicht, zu gross ist die Unsicherheit und das Misstrauen in der lokalen Kunstszene. Nittve kommentierte in der South China Morning Post: „We shouldn’t confuse our longing for political democracy with artistic democracy.“ Ein Zitat, das zu noch mehr Kontroversen führte. Lee Kit hielt sich aus der Diskussion heraus, bedauerte jedoch, dass das M+ beschuldigt wurde, handelte es sich doch um einen internen Entscheid des HKADC. Seiner internationalen Karriere hat die Konstellation auf jeden Fall zu mehr Aufmerksamkeit verholfen. Darüber sprechen wir nicht vor dem Space. Er erzählt von sprachlichen Unterschieden, die er in Beijing erfahren hat. Kantonesisch „ein Taxi erwischen“ heisst in Mandarin rauh: „hit a cab.“ Er mag die Mehrdeutigkeiten fremder Sprachen, bis vor ein paar Jahren habe er ausschliesslich in Englisch gedacht. Die chinesische Regierung ist kein Freund von Mehrdeutigkeiten: Seit den Guangdong National Language Regulations aus dem Jahr 2012 werden staatliche Sender, der Unterricht und Konferenzen in der an Hong Kong grenzenden Provinz ent-kantonisiert. Hong Kong selbst ist von der Regelung nicht betroffen, ein Land, zwei Systeme. Hong Kong als Standort des Connecting Space und des auf Herbst 2015 geplanten Study Centers war an der ZHdK umstritten. Hong Kong sei zu teuer und vor allem zu westlich, zu wenig China. Die Kritik ist verständlich. Hong Kong passt nicht in die Vorstellungen des Westens, wie China auszusehen hat, entspricht nicht dem in stillen Dokumentarfilmen dargestellten bettelarmen Reisbauern, nicht dem wanderarbeitenden Reisbauern, der in den neuen urbanen Zentren in den Mittelstand aufzurücken versucht, um die Ausbildung der Tochter und deren Aufstieg in den wissensbasierten Arbeitsmarkt der Zukunft zu finanzieren. In den südlichen Sonderwirtschaftszonen, die in den 80ern geschaffen wurden (Deng Xiaoping: „build more Hong Kongs“), hat der kapitalistische Wandel bereits kurz nach der Öffnung Einzug gehalten. Hong Kong hat die Stufe der Industriegesellschaft schon längst überschritten. In Hong Kong sehen wir jetzt, wie China morgen aussehen kann. Hong Kong als Schmelztiegel zwischen Ost und West zu benennen ist Reisebroschüren-Jargon. Binäre Zuordnungen scheitern schon auf den zweiten Blick, bei jedem weiteren verfranst, wuchert das Bild, werden neue Verflechtungen offenbar. Eine Stadt im Space of Flow. Mediatisierten Bildern ist schwer zu entkommen: Diese Arbeit beginnt mit Wolkenkratzern, gipfelt in Protesten. Wieviel hat Wong Kar-Wai mein 38


Hong Kong für immer geprägt, Jahre vor der ersten Landung? Wie meinte doch Oscar Wilde bereits 1889: „Die Dinge sind, weil wir sie sehen, und was wir sehen und wie wir sehen, hängt von den Künsten ab, die uns beeinflusst haben.“ Die Welt sieht anders aus durch die Kunst. Das massenmediale Narrativ Hong Kongs im Westen ist meist reduziert auf das Verhältnis zu China, David gegen Goliath, Gut gegen Böse, Demokratie gegen Nobelpreisträger-inhaftierende Diktatur. Es ist die Zensur in China, das Verbot von Filmaufführungen, die es in unsere Schlagzeilen schaffen, nicht die Vorführungen hinter verschlossenen Türen, von Polizisten geduldet. Die durchaus nötige mediale Reduktion von Komplexität nimmt bei einem Land, das mehr Einwohner hat als die USA und Europa zusammen, den Charakter von Comic-Strips aus Kaugummiverpackungen an. Doch die Vielfalt Chinas wird in den nächsten Jahren zu uns dringen, hochqualitative Kulturgüter. China wird urbane Geschichten erzählen, fern von Orientalismen oder Gangnam Styles. Die lokale Lage unseres Spaces in North Point scheint auf den ersten Blick ein wenig abseits, weder im hypen Sheung Wan, noch in Chai Wan mit seinen Kollektivbüros und Ateliers. Konsultiert man die Stadtgeschichte, sind wir hier jedoch genau richtig: Zu Fuss nur fünf Minuten entfernt vom Connecting Space entstand um 2000 der erste organisch gewachsene Creative Cluster Hong Kongs, das Oil Street Artist Village. Symbolisch in einer Phase der restriktiven Wirtschaftspolitik: Um den überhitzten Immobilienmarkt in der Asien-Krise um 1997 zu beruhigen, stoppte die Regierung den Verkauf von Immobilien und vermietete die unbenutzten Gebäude an der Oil Street für Tiefstmieten (2 HK$ pro Quadratfuss) kurzfristig an Künstler, Kunstorganisationen und Photographen. Nach der Zwangsräumung des Gebiets entstanden Ballungen von Künstlerateliers in Industriezonen an der Peripherie, zum Beispiel in Fo Tan. Die Regierung versucht das Gebiet um die Oil Street nun wieder zu beleben: Seit 2013 funktioniert der ehemalige Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (1869) als Kunstzentrum Oi!. Eine Institution, dem lokal-lokal als Connecting Space eine besondere Bedeutung für unseren Connecting Space zukommen könnte: zum einen wegen der unmittelbaren Nähe, zum anderen wegen Oi!s unmittelbarer Nähe zur lokalen Bevölkerung. Lee Kit betrachtet Hong Kong lieber aus der Distanz. Seit er vor zwei Jahren aus dem Inkognito-Art-Cluster Fo Tan nach Taipeh gezogen ist, sei sein Blick auf die Stadt klarer geworden. Ein nahes Exil, nahe genug, um jederzeit zurückfliegen zu können zu Familie und Freunden. Das M+ zeigte seine Biennale-Ausstellung dieses Jahr dem Hong Konger Publikum. Lee Kit ergänzte die Installation um eine Videoarbeit, die er auf Hong Kongs Zeitgeist 2014 entwarf: Nahaufnahmen von berstenden Würsten auf einem Grill. Bevor Lee Kit aufbricht, frage ich ihn, welchen Sound Hong Kongs er am meisten vermisst in Taipeh. Er sagt: I miss the noise. Und zeigt auf die Baustelle vis-à-vis des Connecting Space.

39


Portraits by Patrick Kull Jaffa Lam Chow Chun Fai Morgan Wong Ko Sin Tung Lai Cheuk Wah Sarah Kwan Sheung Chi Kong Chun Hei Lam Tung Pang Tang Kwok Hin

41


In early 2014, I was asked if I would be interested in participating in a project looking at the developments in the Hong Kong arts scene taking place in the context of the of the M+ Museum, a part of the future West Kowloon Cultural District project. Upon immersing myself in the material, I soon realized that my interests lay in discovering the positions and opinions of Hong Kong artists on these developments. Through researching, I built up a list of Hong Kong-based artists who I then contacted to ask if I could visit them in person in early May in Hong Kong. In the end, I managed to get a list of nine artists who I would meet during the week I was there. I tried as much as possible to visit them in their studios, so as also to get a feeling for how they work and under what sorts of conditions. The short conversations I then conducted are an attempt to paint a picture of the working situations, ideas, current works, and thoughts on the future that the artists have. In the following pages, I have included pictures from both myself (distinguishable by the square white frame around each of them), as well as the artists themselves, who were generous enough to send me photos of their works and ateliers. The different sources produce a heterogeneous mix of both my and the artists’ view of their works and studios. These short interviews should not be seen as representative of the extensive creative output of any of the artists featured. If the reader wishes to have more information about any given artist, I recommend they consult the artist’s website, listed in the short biographies, for more about their works and their contact details. Lastly, I would like to thank all the artists I met with for their warm welcome, their patience, and their pictures. Patrick Kull 42


Jaffa Lam


Jaffa Lam Laam Born in Fujian (China) in 1973 Artistic Medium(s) mixed-media sculptures, objects and installations Studio Fo Tan, Sha Tin, New Territories, Hong Kong Education Master of Fine Arts, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1999. Postgraduate Diploma in Education, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2000. www.jaffalam.net

What are some typical problems of a Hong Kong artist? As in other cities in Asia, people typically don’t understand what an artist actually does. They often think that being an artist means that you can’t make a living. Personally, I solve that problem by teaching at the university; I also see it as a responsibility of the artist to give something back to society. The cost of renting space here is extremely high, it’s a luxury for a Hong Kong artist to be able to rent a space. We always need to consider how to store stuff after the shows are over. This is especially true for me, as I’m not a commercial artist and the work won’t be sold. I therefore often have to think about mobility and foldability without affecting the scale I have in mind.

Hong Kong is a place packed with exhibitions. We have to choose which shows we will participate in and which not, so as to avoid getting too sidetracked or loosing focus on our own research. As an artist, what institutions are most important to you? In my opinion, professional researchers, art writers, critics, art administrators, and good dealers are all very important to artists. They can help to spread artists’ ideas throughout the public, as well as to link them with other professions, such as artists working in other mediums, or even social workers, local craftsmen, activists, educators, etc. I think that NGOs, archives, universities, alternative exhibition spaces, museums, art foundations, and residency programs are also very important. In short, there should be a wide diversity of institutions helping artists that are linked into and help one another. What would you say to a young artist just starting arts school in Hong Kong? That’s a difficult question to answer. I’d prefer to be a role model and show them with my actions. I would probably tell them to control and practice their artistic technique, as this is basic to development. Keep your eyes as well as your mind open, learn new things on your own or by listening to different people, have a sense of social responsibility. Everyone is equal, no matter if they are rich or poor. Keep reminding yourself what your first urge was to become an artist, no matter if you’re doing very well or very badly. To be a good human being is more important than just being a good artist, art is just a medium to help you cultivate the meaning of life. Also, don’t get depressed if you have to work in a field that isn’t art or art related; art is supposed to be a tattoo which follows you around even if it goes unnoticed. 44


← Jaffa Lam’s studio, Fo Tan, Hong Kong. JL

Jaffa Lam with part of her Pencil Ball series from 2002­–2010. PK → Parachute in Melbourne

at School of Art Gallery, RMIT Building, Australia, 2011. JL

45


Hong Kong inVisible – My Chairlady II, 2012. PK

48


Chow Chun Fai


Chow Chun Fai Born in Hong Kong in 1980 Artistic Medium(s) painting, photography, video Studio Fo Tan, Sha Tin, New Territories, Hong Kong Education Master in Fine Arts, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2006. www.chowchunfai.com

What is your favorite film? A Chinese Odyssey – Part 1 Pandora’s Box and Part 2 Cinderella. If people of Hong Kong were to elect you as Chief Executive of Hong Kong, what would be the first thing you would change? Hong Kong deserves to have a Bureau for Culture. It wouldn’t just be about having a better cultural policy with a wider vision; I think that with something like the Bureau for Culture, the whole government structure could learn something from the arts. Are you positive about what the future holds for Hong Kong in the coming years? Yes. Even though there are more challenges to come, there are also more changes. What are you working on right now? I am working with a new material. Specifically, I’m trying to paint with water-based enamel paint. How would you describe the political situation in Hong Kong? All of a sudden, many locals have woken up to the political situation here. At the same time, someone who pretends to be asleep can never be awoken.

50


← Chow Chun Fai’s open

studio event. CCF

Chow Chun Fai at his studio, Fo Tan, Hong Kong. PK → Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, enamel paint on canvas. CCF

51


Chow Chun Fai’s paint brushes. PK

54


Morgan Wong


Morgan Wong Born in Hong Kong in 1984 Artistic Medium(s) performance, video, installation Studio Kwai Hing, Hong Kong / Tai O, Hong Kong Education Bachelor in Creative Media, School of Creative Media, The City University of Hong Kong. Master of Fine Arts, Slade School of Fine Art, University College London. www.morgan.wongwingfat.com

Why did you move from Hong Kong to an island near Hong Kong? I am now sometimes on the island and sometimes in town. When I moved back to Hong Kong after four years in Beijing and London, I wanted to get away from the city and have more time to focus on my own projects. My whole family comes from that fishing village, Tai O, so it makes a lot of sense for me to move back there, as it’s very quiet and has a much slower pace than life in Hong Kong itself. My studio is in a industrial area of Hong Kong and I enjoy to seek for peace on Tai O. Does Hong Kong need the M+, or is it just another arts institution? M+ has already shown its multidisciplinary strength and focus in their Mobile M+ projects such as the Neon Signs exhibition and Inflation! Personally, I think M+ is taking a different path towards building its audience than other museums in Hong Kong. It’s also helping the public feel a sense of belonging towards not just contemporary art, but also design, architecture, and their other focuses as well. How do you imagine the life of an artist living in Switzerland or Europe? I have different degrees of understanding of Swiss artists: those I know personally, artists I like and research, and artists whose work can be seen all over the world. My first personal encounter with a Swiss artist was when I took part in an artistic residency program in Sapporo, Japan in 2010. A fellow artist in the program, Isamu Krieger, is from Switzerland. I got a chance to visit his exhibition in Geneva after my show during “Liste Art Fair” in Basel in 2012. Roman Signer is one of my favourite artists, and also from Switzerland. My stay in London enriched my knowledge of European artists, and I have definitely been influenced by that. 56


← View from Morgan Wong’s studio on Tai O Island, Hong Kong. MW

Demolishing Rumor, video still, 21'03", Video, 2010. MW → The Remnant of My Volition (Force Majeure), 2.4 × 7.5 × 9 m, 2014, at Art Basel Hong Kong. MW

57


Tai O Island, near Lantau Island, Hong Kong. MW

60


Ko Sin Tung


Ko Sin Tung Born in Hong Kong in 1987 Artistic Medium(s) painting, video and digital print Studio Fo Tan, Sha Tin, New Territories, Hong Kong (Together with Lai Cheuk Wah Sarah & Kong Chun Hei) Education Bachelor of Fine Arts, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2009. www.kosintung.com

What does an average day look like for you? Sitting in front of the computer, browsing different websites. Recently, I have been working with prints, so I have to find images, decide what images I am going to use, and do some editing. This is all computer-based work. After finishing the prints, I usually set up a table and start painting. Working with different kinds of media, what comes first, the idea or the media you’d like to work with? Basically the idea comes first, or sometimes the idea and the media come up together. I think though that the media is also a part of the idea or concept. What are you working on right now? I am preparing a set of works about houses in Taiwan based around the concept of collecting light for a show in Taipei. What I do is select and print images of windows. In the work, light becomes a non-functional symbol that represents the desire for this essential element of a living space. Does sharing a studio with two other artists make for much collaboration? So far there hasn’t been much collaboration. However we do visit exhibitions and discuss different artworks together.

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← Preparing inkjet prints enti-

tled Modern Home Collection for upcoming exhibition, Never odd or even in Taipei Artist Village, Taiwan. KST Ko Sin Tung at her work space. PK → As white as you can 3, Acrylic

on archival inkjet print with wooden frame, 75 × 121 cm, 2014. KST

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Lai Cheuk Wah Sarah


Lai Cheuk Wah Sarah Born in Hong Kong in 1983 Artistic Medium(s) painting Studio Fo Tan, Sha Tin, New Territories, Hong Kong (Together with Ko Sin Tung & Kong Chun Hei) Education Bachelor in Fine Arts, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2007. www.laicheukwah.com

What does an average day look like for you? I usually wake up late because I’m more concentrated and work better late at night. I have a coffee to start my day. If I have any deadlines, I can work straight through the day, sometimes for up to a month or even longer. When I have time though, I just go through my day as if it was a slow holiday. I read or go on the Internet. I make some visual notes if I get a thought or an idea. I’m capable of staying at the studio all day for several days, but this makes me feel uncomfortable after a while. When this happens, I go downstairs and take a long walk alone. During these walks, I often have some good ideas. What is missing for young artists in Hong Kong? It is not too difficult for young artists to find somewhere in Hong Kong to feature their work. One thing though is that there is almost no funding for young artists to apply for if they want to further their studies abroad. What are you working on right now? I’m working on a painting of a picture of a tattoo. It’s from a musician I feel very connected to. It says “Rave On”, which is a pretty big contrast to my personality. The painting is going in my private collection. I will never sell it because I love the idea that it will always hang on my wall. Where would be the most interesting place to exhibit your work? I have been always interested in street art.

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← Sarah Lai Cheuk Wah’s Studio in Fo Tan, Hong Kong. SLCW

Sarah Lai Cheuk Wah at her studio. PK

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Spotting the light onto a light, Oil on canvas, 122 Ă— 183 cm, 2012. SLCW

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Kwan Sheung Chi


Kwan Sheung Chi Born in Hong Kong in 1980 Artistic Medium(s) conceptual works, photography, prints, performance, installation, video Studio Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong Education Third Honour Bachelors in Fine Arts, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2003. www.kwansheungchi.com

Would you call yourself a political artist? No, my work reflects what concerns me. Politics is only one thing among many that is important to me, but it’s something that concerns everyone. If you could change one thing in Hong Kong, what would it be? I would change the political system in order to make it a true democratic government free of Chinese intervention. If you could travel anywhere for free, where would you go and why? I would go to New York City. My wife and I have lots of precious memories of New York from our time doing an artistic residency there in 2009–2010. Are you afraid of what the future political situation in Hong Kong will be? No, I’m not afraid. Though I don’t have much hope for the future, I think the most important thing is figuring out what we should do in the present.

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← The studio of Kwan Sheung. KSC

Meeting Kwan Sheung Chi at the Art Basel Hong Kong VIP-Lounge. PK → To defend the core values is

the core of the core values, Kwan Sheung Chi and Wong Wai Yin, 2012, for Mobile M+. KSC

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Kong Chun Hei


Kong Chun Hei Born in Hong Kong in 1987 Artistic Medium(s) drawing Studio Fo Tan, Sha Tin, New Territories, Hong Kong (Together with Lai Cheuk Wah Sarah & Ko Sin Tung) Education Bachelor in Fine Arts, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2009. www.kongchunhei.com

How do you imagine the lives of young artists in Switzerland? I imagine that they can manage their time very well and cannot take baths after 10pm. Does Hong Kong need M+? Yes. How would you describe your work? What interests you? Object-making interests me, because it becomes independent from me when it’s done. Do you have a favorite place in Hong Kong? Yes, a coffee shop in Tai Hang with a bench that only does take-away coffee.

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← The studio of Kong Chun Hei, Fo Tan, Hong Kong. KCH

Kong Chun Hei shows Stuff III, mounted on stainless steel. PK → Stuff III, ink on paper, 16.9 × 22.2 × 28.2 cm, 2013. KCH

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Lam Tung Pang


Lam Tung Pang Born in Hong Kong in 1978 Artistic Medium(s) painting and drawing Studio Fo Tan, Sha Tin, New Territories, Hong Kong Education Master in Fine Arts, Central Saint Martins College of Art, London, 2004. www.lamtungpang.com

Who has influenced your work the most? Kurt Chan Yuk-Keung, he was my professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in the Department of Fine Arts and also my mentor. He opened up my sensitivity to materials. In some of your pieces you work with your daughter’s toys. Is there any agreement as to which toys you can use and which you cannot? I buy the toys, so it’s not me taking her toys; it’s her taking mine. She will often come up to my studio and steal my toys. Toys represent play as well as a process of recognition. My daughter helps me by making me aware of this cognitive process. In some of your works you confront skyscrapers with idyllic landscapes. Can this be read as an environmentalist critique? I don’t really critique, I present phenomenon that I have observed. Will Hong Kong have free elections in 2017? I worry how people are influenced by politics right now.

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← Lam Tung Pang’s studio in Fo Tan, Hong Kong. LTP

Lam Tung Pang. PK → The Sinking World (detail), exhibited at Espace Louis Vuitton, 2014. LTP

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Stickers for use in Lam Tung Pang’s paintings. PK

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Tang Kwok Hin


Tang Kwok Hin Born in Hong Kong in 1983 Artistic Medium(s) mixed media, paintings, photography, sculpture, and prints Studio Kam Tin, Yuen Long, New Territories, Hong Kong Education Master in Fine Arts, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2008. www.tangkwokhin.com

What does an average day look like for you? Recently, I normally spend at least an hour a day on housework. I sleep in in the morning until I don’t feel tired any more, which usually means getting up between 10 am and noon. Sometimes I nap from 10 pm to 12 am. My lunch is always bread, jam, and cheese heated in the oven. I eat with my mom, dad, or girlfriend at home, or sometimes out. When out, I enjoy watching a film and shopping (but only observing people shopping). Other than that, I always think about what I can actually do; writing, reading, making art, daydreaming, conceiving new ideas, and so on… Do you have any favorite place in Hong Kong? I always like to discover new places. I like the discovery itself more than an actual place. If I really need to say where I like, I like Kam Tin Main Road, cafés, restaurants, supermarkets, art spaces, streets, stores… Do you imagine the life of a Swiss artist being much different to that of a Hong Kong artist? I imagine that we gradually become more similar under globalization, and begin facing similar problems in life. I haven’t ever been to Switzerland before. Is there more space to live? Are the roads wider? Are the buildings lower in general? More museums? Larger studios and artworks? Slower rhythm of life? I think Hong Kong shapes artists because we are struggling between development and nature, identity, mainstream, independence and politics... Do Swiss artists also face similar social problems and life issues? Does Switzerland shape artists to become more focused on so-called “fine arts”?

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� Tang Kwok Hins studio in

New York City (temporary residence, October 2014). TKH

Meeting Tang Kwok Hin at Art Basel Hong Kong. PK

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← Reminiscences of the East-

ern Capital, video still, 18-channel video, 6'15", 2014.

Snail Occipital, drawing on paper, wood, drawer, door lock, chair, glass, mirror, newspaper, color paper, cloth, key box, glass bottle, stamp, and receipt, 100 × 100 × 95 cm, 2014, exhibited at Art Basel Hong Kong. PK

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Interviews by Brandon Farnsworth Kurt Chan Connie Lam Ian Leung Teresa Kwong Tina Pang Pi Li Leung Po-Shan Tobias Berger

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These interviews are the result of several months of intensive research, as well as a trip to Hong Kong in May 2014 with my two research colleagues, Claudio Bucher and Patrick Kull, under the direction of Michael Schindhelm. Our goal was to learn about the city’s burgeoning arts scene, as well as to explore how this scene will change and develop in the coming four to five years. The timeline is significant, as it reflects the number of years until the opening of the first phase of the West Kowloon Cultural District, a cultural mega-project encompassing an impressive array of cultural facilities, – among them theaters and an opera house. One of the most noteworthy buildings in this new development, and the focus of my interviews, is the so-called M+ Museum for Visual Culture, which will house the recently-donated Sigg Collection of Chinese contemporary art, as well as major works of Chinese contemporary, Hong Kong contemporary, and Asian art. The Hong Kong art world is currently undergoing a significant paradigm shift. Over the past several years, the city has seen a veritable explosion of galleries, both foreign and domestic, along with substantial increases in government expenditure on arts and culture. In light of this transformation, I saw it fitting to interview those on the front lines of enacting change, as well as those who have watched the field develop over the past several decades. The arts scene needs the development of some sort of standardized discourse on its actions. There are many very respectable efforts going on right now in the city to establish such a discourse, the work of the Asia Art Archive being a major one, but often the pace of change seems to make the task of writing and reflecting on Hong Kong somewhat Sisyphean. Several interviewees mentioned that there was relatively little in the

way of scholarly reflection on topics such as the Sigg Collection, or the relationship between the West Kowloon project and the “creative city” debate. This lack is a testament to how quickly matters have developed in the city’s arts scene in the last several years; the pace of development has outstripped the pace of scholarly research and reflection on those developments. With this collection of interviews with a cross-section of influential voices in the Hong Kong arts scene, I hope that I can play my own small part in codifying and formalizing what people are thinking and doing on the ground. It is my hope that this volume will serve to promote greater public understanding and awareness of the rapid and historic changes going on in the city right before our eyes. Brandon Farnsworth

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Kurt Chan

Kurt Chan is Professor and Director of the MA program in Fine Arts at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.


BF: How has the arts scene changed since the 80’s, when you first started out? KC: At that time I was still a student. I didn’t feel that there was any future for art in Hong Kong. One of the reasons is that the infrastructure was not well built up. There was only one arts school, seriously speaking; Chinese University was the only place for tertiary education in the fine arts. In the 90’s, Arts Center played an important role because it was a big institution with a large variety of arts activities, one with the freedom to invite different international exhibitions. I would say that there were three very important figures in the city at that time; one is the curator Oscar Ho from Arts Center, two is Johnson Zhang from Hanart Gallery, who was very important in opening up the window for Chinese artists in the international arena, and three would be the manager of the Fringe club, Benny Chia. Fringe Club is actually a place that combines bar, performance space, and exhibition space, which was a very important in the 90’s. He also founded an important festival, called the Fringe Festival, which he then renamed the City Festival, which was aimed at putting art in neighborhoods such as the Soho District. These three key figures each did different kinds of things. One worked for the Arts Center to bring in international connections, one brought Chinese and Hong Kong artists to the international arts scene, and the third tried to bring art into the city. This is basically what happened in the 90’s. In the 80’s, there was not much going on in Hong Kong. Back then, there was increasing demand for a more formal arts school. Chinese University is not really considered as an arts school. We only have a small department that we call the Department of Fine Arts, which comprises classes in every genre of art. We train artists, curators, art educators, etc., but all in one place. This was because the arts scene in the eighties was not quite so popular, and a little bit marooned. The arts scene has only become prosperous since 2000, as the Hong Kong Arts School was founded in that year and the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC) was founded in 1995, with its impact being witnessed around the millennium. In 2005, the Baptist University Academy of Visual Arts started many art programs in new genres, such as media art and comic art. City University was more on the practical side at first, only interested in training animators and website designers, but now the curriculum has been changed to become more fine art oriented in the School of Creative Media. All these developments changed the scenario of art in Hong Kong. There were not even many NGOs at that time in the city. One of the first to pop up in the arts scene in the early 90’s was Para Site, which still plays a very active role. BF: That leads well into my next question, which is how does the Chinese University fit into the Hong Kong arts scene? KC: We are the oldest tertiary arts education institution in Hong Kong; we started our school in the 50’s. In the coming year, we are celebrating our 60th anniversary. If there is something called Hong Kong art history, the Chinese University plays a very important part, because many of the important artists have been teachers here, like Liu Guosong, the pioneer of contemporary ink art. He actually came from 92


Taiwan, and spent more than 30 years here, from his thirties to his sixties; basically his whole career was spent in Hong Kong, although many still saw him as a Taiwanese artist. There have actually been many museum advisors as well as prominent artists who have taught here, probably because Chinese University was the only university-level arts institution around. If you wanted to make a living, your only choice was either to teach or to sell. At that time though, there were very few local galleries selling Hong Kong art. They basically sold decorative art from Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, rather than selling works by artists from Hong Kong. The problem remains the same even today; you can’t really make a living by selling artwork because of the increase in the number of Chinese artists. As far as I remember, only a few people in Hong Kong can live from selling artwork in such a harsh and competitive environment. However, a new generation joined the game in the eighties. It consisted of those people who graduated from the Chinese University, as well as of people whose parents were willing and able to send them overseas for their schooling. It is this generation that began to have international vision, and who, upon coming back to Hong Kong, found or created opportunities for art making. Oscar Ho, who I mentioned earlier, is one of them, Benny Chia another. There were many interesting artists who returned to the city during that time, like the sculptor Antonio Mak, or Yank Wong, a painter and also a musician. It was an interesting era, the conditions were just right for the growth of the arts scene. It turned into a great opportunity for people to find ways to contribute, to make something happen, to activate the arts circle here.

If there is something called Hong Kong art history, the Chinese University plays a very important part.

BF: Going back to the present, what do you see as being the status of art in Hong Kong now? What does art mean in a Hong Kong context? KC: It’s a very complicated issue. Hong Kong was a colony, and the British, in the process of governing the people here, tried to eliminate the sense of belonging to a local culture, especially to a Chinese culture. Elite culture was never a priority in the eyes of the colonists, which was the case when my parents came as immigrants from mainland China in the early 50’s. There were many war refugees fleeing the mainland and coming down to Hong Kong to try and make a living. Survival was the first priority; things like getting enough food and shelter were the 93


most important. The sense of insecurity that was prevalent really could not allow something called art and culture to exist at that time. The first generations, those of the fifties, sixties, and seventies, were mostly just concerned with boosting the economy, productivity, and making Hong Kong cosmopolitan. Everything was very pragmatic, very materialistic. Spiritual life happened only in religion, but not in art. Because of the hard work of our parents, there was the possibility for my generation to start to look forward to the growth of art and culture. BF: How much is M+ about creative industry? KC: It is definitely heavily influenced by the creative industry discourse, specifically by the UK in the nineties. Because of the threat of China becoming the world’s factory, the government asked themselves what they could do with Hong Kong. Competing with Chinese industry wasn’t possible, but we have a good fiscal and legal system, as well as a solid infrastructure, which sustains a healthy economy. We need more than that though, because of the high salaries. The government wanted to find a way to maintain economic strength for the next generation. Creative Industry immediately came to the mind of the Chief Executive as a solution. One thing, design – not art – came to be the focus, and they’re getting a lot of resources from the government to develop just that. Projects like the M+ are another major area where the Chief Executive is interested in development. It amounts to a shift of the Hong Kong economy from more materialistic to more culture-based. M+, even the whole West Kowloon project, is perhaps the vision that the city has for its future.

The government wanted to find a way to maintain economic strength for the next generation; creative industry immediately came to mind.

BF: How do you think the museum is going to fit in or affect the city’s current art institutional landscape? KC: That’s a very good question. Nowadays, the most active players in our scene are basically self-supporting. They get their money from different groups in different sectors, and have each developed their own unique way of surviving. For example, if Para Site wants grant money, 94


they can apply for it through the HKADC, but if they don’t get enough to cover expenses, they have to resort to doing their own fundraising, like selling the works of eminent artists. Asia Art Archive does the same thing. They’re very active and healthy because of this self-sustainability. They have a program that is year-round, and have more and more people who are willing to donate resources. To go back to your question, which was if M+ became really well established what would change, I think it’s very dialectic. We only have our imagination of M+; we know M but we don’t know plus. We don’t know what this plus means yet. I foresee there being many interactions between the local institutions, such as NGOs and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), but how they will interact with each other, as well as the strategy behind the interactions will change from time to time because of the competition. If M+ wants to draw more audience, attention, or resources, then they have to compete with each other in order to get what they want, otherwise they’ll be outplayed by the others. The thing is though, that from the governmental side there probably should be some funding for M+, but they should also strengthen the resources for the HKADC because it’s the only organization that distributes resources with a bottom-up approach. So NGOs can apply for money, but yet still maintain a very close connection to the neighborhood that cannot be directly replaced by governmental bodies. If the government can balance the resources between the two, the problem should be settled, and we can have a healthy ecosystem in different areas. In regards to the development of the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD), even if the project has yet to be built, it has already aroused a certain amount of attention in the education sector. People think that WKCD will need lots of arts administrators, so Arts Management courses have been founded in almost of the arts educational institutions here. The other effect so far is in Visual Culture, because the market suspects that there should be more and more institutions willing to employ people with arts skills in a broader sense. They don’t think artists are important, they think art sense and management skill are important. BF: Would you say that to an extent, the M+ has already done its job? That it has raised the profile of Hong Kong internationally? KC: Yes, that’s certainly true to an extent. There have already been budget cuts to the original plan. The useable exhibition space of the museum seems now to be a little bigger than the size of the new Hong Kong Museum of Art. The section for Popular Culture has for instance already been cut. As you mentioned, M+ has already done their job in terms of creating expectations; many initiatives have already been created in response to these expectations. If they do a good job or not now, it doesn’t really matter. BF: One of the M+’s stated goals is to promote Hong Kong art and artists internationally. Do you think they will be successful in doing this? What do you think they would need to do in order for this to happen? KC: The last Venice Biennale, curated by the M+ team, was actually quite successful. They definitely do have some tricks to promote 95


so-called “lesser known” artists to the international arts scene. I think they did a very good job. Before that, there has been around six or seven times that Hong Kong has participated in the Biennale, but none of them got the same kind of feedback from the international scene. One of the reasons is that HKADC and M+ joined forces and doubled the amount of money they spent compared to previous Biennales. This time they have more money, as well as professional strategies for promoting artists. One big reason for their success was Lars Nittve, the director of M+. He is well connected in the contemporary art scene; he knows how and where to spend money. The threat of M+, even if it’s not established yet, has already been acknowledged by the LCSD. They are strong competitors in the art field, even if they are both funded by public money. The curators and the people upstairs are already aware of the threat and they are trying very hard to polish their program because of the competition. For instance, LCSD is renovating the entire Hong Kong Arts Museum, as well as ‘Oil’ (a branch of the Art Promotion Office). These initiatives were only planned after the announcement of M+. It’s clear that there is some healthy competition now. It’s no longer the case that they can monopolize the government-run art program. They have to face their competition and stay relevant, and I think this is a very good thing for Hong Kong.

Hong Kong still has a very important role to play by bringing Chinese artists to the eyes of the western world. BF: The relationship between global and local influences has its unique configuration in Hong Kong, whatever it may be. How will this balance, particularly in regards to the arts scene, change in the coming years? KC: Though many international galleries are operating successfully now in Beijing and Shanghai, Hong Kong still has a very important role to play by bringing Chinese artists to the eyes of the western world. This is partly due to the fact that China, no matter how open it is, is still restricted by political ideologies. Some “sensitive” shows are still prohibited in China. Hong Kong tends to be more of a free place, more of an international city, not in the least because more people here speak English. Because of these factors, Hong Kong still has an inevitable advantage in regards to cultural exchange. Because M+ is basically run by foreign expertise, they’re inevitably going to have more international experience. Their background will definitely have an impact on what they present, on what kind of pro96


jects they take on. I find that the methodology is actually quite similar all over the place when it comes to trends like community art, relational art, and concerns of public space. What makes the difference is the cultural context, which varies from city to city.

We will begin to attract audience from all over the world, not only to see the art of China and Hong Kong, but also of all of Southeast Asia. Hong Kong is now at the cusp of a very important era of change, where we can have a significant impact on the future of both Hong Kong and China. If the city integrates more closely with China in the future, then it could change Hong Kong. A reverse-influence could take place as well, in other words, it would not just be China influencing Hong Kong, but also Hong Kong influencing China. The other important aspect is that many important artists still want to show in Hong Kong. This is because though there are many important galleries that go to Shanghai or Beijing, many still would rather stay here. Hong Kong has a different agenda, a different political system, even a different tax system, which all make for favorable conditions for investing here. If you want to show or buy a painting, you don’t want it to get caught up in unknown factors such as political issues, so the city is somehow still a gateway for China to reach the rest of the world. Asia is a much bigger topic; many international players are now interested in Asia. China has, in a way, become very mature as an art market. They can do their own business through different local or international agencies. Asia seems to have become the world’s focus now. I don’t know if you’re aware, but there are conflicts in the region between Japan and China. The US is trying to lay a hand here. All these political struggles become hidden strings that put Asia, especially Southeast Asia, under the limelight of the so-called international arts scene. Hong Kong can serve as a showcase for those countries, especially those in Southeast Asia. But East Asian countries, like Korea or Japan, are already very mature; they have their own platforms to communicate with the international art scene. Talking about M+, if the museum is able to serve as a platform for Southeast Asia, it is my expectation that we will begin to attract audience from all over the world, not only to see the art of China and Hong Kong, but also of all of Southeast Asia. 97


BF: So it’s a key to Southeast Asia as well, not just to China? KC: Yes, I think it will be like that. Not just M+ but other institutions as well will become gateways. For instance, the Hong Kong-based Osage Gallery is an expert in Southeast Asia. They now have some of the best connections in the region, and it’s an institution based in Hong Kong. Tokyo and Seoul are other things, they have their own platforms, they don’t need us, but I think it’s possible for Southeast Asia. BF: Talking about a gateway to China, what do you think about the Sigg collection being brought from China to be shown here in Hong Kong? KC: Some people say that the collection does not contain the most important works; others say that they’re very good. In my opinion, they are part of early Chinese contemporary art history. The collection mostly consists of early works by artists who are now very famous. It’s sort of strange because the picture of development of contemporary Chinese art is incomplete if you are only able to see the early works of the artists and not the later developments. I would rather that the Sigg Collection goes back to China, because the rest of the works are still there. Otherwise, history is being split in different sections and located in different places. BF: Some would say though that the collection wouldn’t get the chance to be exhibited in China, because of censorship issues, and Hong Kong is the only place where it can be shown. KC: If Hong Kong agrees with that view, then the city should start collecting Chinese art and completing the collection. Otherwise, the earlier collection doesn’t really make sense. Collecting contemporary Chinese art would be very expensive, whether or not the government is ready to do that is the main question. The other thing is whether there are any art historians in Hong Kong ready to do research on the collection. BF: It’s interesting that you mention research, because I see it often as a problem of discovering what is legitimate Chinese contemporary art and what is not. Do you think that the museum will affect Hong Kong’s art in a way that will push it more towards the same style as that of China? KC: From the perspective of Hong Kong artists, modern art actually has a longer history of development here. It’s at about the same pace as Japanese or Korean art, but because of the pragmatic nature of Hong Kong people, we are under-developed. In China, there’s only a twenty-year history of modern art. The reason China has become so powerful is because they have so many art schools, so many art students, and a government and society which is much more supportive of art and culture in general. From that large amount of arts students, they will obviously have a few stars who are extremely talented.

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It would not just be China influencing Hong Kong, but also Hong Kong influencing China. BF: I don’t mean to say that Hong Kong would be more influenced by the west through China, I also see the Hong Kong arts scene as being extremely modern, hybridized, and international. What I’m asking is how much China will influence Hong Kong art? KC: Of course China is affecting Hong Kong. First of all, most manufacturing industries are now located in China, which are capable of producing all sorts of physical products. Many of the sculptors in Hong Kong need to go back there to produce their works. Another effect is that some students, if they cannot get into an arts school here, still have the possibility of going to China to look for opportunities to study. It’s important to remember that the painting technique in China is still the best. Many artists train for over ten years, whereas here we only do about three years before leaving school and producing a body of work. In terms of art practice, the drawback is that here we are lacking space and time to improve our skills after graduation. When artists finish their studies here, if they are not determined enough to set up a studio and polish their skill and ideas, then it is very difficult to improve their work, which often fails because of harsh competition. Many of the artists now working in Hong Kong are working part-time in some other job, and part-time on their artistic practice. Only a few survive. Because of the above-mentioned limitations, the works of Hong Kong artists tend to be very conceptual. You don’t need to put much effort into the technical competence, which is good if you can make use of these limitations on time and space. As you can see, Hong Kong art actually stems from our limitations and our weaknesses. Up until now, I haven’t seen many big changes in how Hong Kong art is influenced by the mainland. Even if we envy them and try to be like them, they have very closed communities, so it’s not easy for an outsider to join in. Even in mainland China itself, artists from Beijing can barely survive in Shanghai, and artists in different cities compete with each other. They are different circles, all of which are quite exclusive. We also don’t have the resources to become like them, even if we want to imitate them. What’s important though is that, talking about global or contemporary art, Hong Kong people still have the most advanced tools to understand so-called international art or global art in-depth. This has to do with free access to information, and services like YouTube, Facebook, or social media, through which they can access all kinds of up-to-date information. When we talk about international art, it’s a very significant difference between the mainland and here. Ten 99


years ago, how they learnt about international art normally came from translated books, second-hand accounts, or merely personal interpretation of visual images. Therefore, the impact that they will have on the art of Hong Kong, as the two places begin to interact with each other more frequently, will be very interesting. BF: I know you’re very busy, so I’ll leave it there. Thank you so much for your insightful answers! KC: My Pleasure!

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Connie Lam, Teresa Kwong, Ian Leung

Connie Lam is Executive Director of the Hong Kong Arts Center. Teresa Kwong is Assistant Programme Director at the Hong Kong Arts Center. Ian Leung is Programme Manager at the Hong Kong Arts Center.


Brandon Farnsworth: Could you talk a little about the institutional history of the Hong Kong Arts Center (HKAC)? Connie Lam: The Hong Kong arts scene for me began to develop in the sixties; during this time, the first civic center in Hong Kong, the City Hall, was built. The Arts Center is a very significant milestone in this development. It was established in 1977, and is the first art space that is not run by the government. The government just gave a piece of land and then it was up to us to raise funds and make the center happen. We have all the freedom we want, since we do not receive recurrent funding from the government.

We have all the freedom we want, since we do not receive recurrent funding from the government. BF: How would you describe the daily operations of Arts Center? CL: We have become a platform for young talent in Hong Kong, and in the meantime, in Asia as well. Apart from that we are also a platform for big names that come and work with Hong Kong artists, so we’re a space for high-end exhibitions, too. Because of our nature, having galleries, a cinema, as well as a black box theater, we can promote a wide variety of different art forms at the same time. We are also always doing interdisciplinary projects that make use of this wide variety of resources. For example, before we started our street music program in 2009, there was no regular outdoor space that featured independent music, but now even LegCo (Hong Kong Legislative Council) has come to us to ask how many shows we are performing annually, and endorsed our contribution to promoting music in public space. Another thing that is very difficult to do in Hong Kong is to have a regular platform for promoting sound arts. We have such a platform, where we work with Samson Young, a Hong Kong sound artist, to promote sound art. We have also recently founded a place called Comix Home Base. With it, we’ve been promoting comics and animation as an art form since 2006. Because of us, more people think this is an art form, and more people are talking about it.

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BF: What is the biggest factor driving change in the arts scene here? CL: I think it’s the government. Without the government policy stating that we will have a West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) development, we wouldn’t have the amount of change we are seeing. Chow Chun Fai has done a painting where he paints a shot of our previous Chief Executive, Donald Tsang, saying that the WKCD will help Hong Kong to achieve better economic growth. The government is not talking about the growth of the Hong Kong arts scene, but rather about the growth of Hong Kong economy. You can see that the government is trying to drive the economy with the arts. This is their direction. The West Kowloon project will be a very important networking point for the Perl River Delta area. BF: Where does the Hong Kong Arts Center position itself in the arts landscape of the city? Teresa Kwong: I think the Arts Center, though there are so many other arts organizations compared to thirty or forty years ago, still plays a unique role in Hong Kong, and even in the region. We often see ourselves as an art hub. When we talk about our building, we often compare it to a vertical artists village! Other than us, we also have the office of the Hong Kong Arts Festival, the Goethe Institute, and the architecture firm CL3. We work independently, but we often work on projects together as well. At the same time, we have our own venue, and we have a network. We have both tangible and intangible resources, as well as a history stretching back 30 plus years. We see ourselves as a platform or an incubator with a mission of promoting contemporary art and artists. CL: This is something important. I don’t want to say that we are schizophrenics, but the Arts Center is very diverse. The overall picture of the Arts Center is to promote arts through art exhibitions and art education. Whenever we do a project, we always incorporate both elements in it. What we are is an incubator, but we do benchmarking as well. We are trying our very best to change the landscape and make an impact on the society. I think this is something that is possible only because of our scale. Our board entrusts us with great deal of freedom, which is why we can do so many things. For example, Teresa and I are co-producers of feature films and documentaries. I don’t think many art organizations can do so many things at one time. This is an area in which we are very unique, because we keep evolving. We keep evolving because we respond to the society and its needs. BF: The WKCD has been doing a lot of audience-building programs already, for instance with the Mobile M+ exhibition series, or even the Bamboo Theater. Could you talk about the differences in audience-building strategy between the Arts Center and WKCD? Ian Leung: We are building audience not only to enrich their art experience via our programs, but also to create the momentum for them to explore on their own. On another level, for example with street music, we aim to promote a certain vibe and culture across different districts in Hong Kong. In parallel, we also conduct music appreciation 103


workshops and demonstration classes for youth, empowering them to pursue their interests. In contrast, the recent endeavors of the WKCD have suggested that they are focusing mainly on cultivating awareness in adjacent districts such as Yau Ma Tei, Tsim Sha Tsui, Jordan, and Mong Kok, while also keeping the project relevant to the arts community. Our vision is more about promoting the arts as a certain lifestyle. It should be very approachable for a wide range of people. Our mission is to educate the community about the arts, to the point where if our younger generation says to their parents that they would like to study art, they won’t be immediately dissuaded from doing so. We want to show them that there are many ways of making art happen and turning it into a profession, we offer that level of education as well. CL: Our position towards the WKCD is that we are rooted in Hong Kong, and know it very well, and are thus able to respond to the city’s needs. We really want to the WKCD to succeed, because we think that they will become a platform for Hong Kong artists to shine on a larger stage. This is an area where I think we can complement each other. It’s just like in New York where you have MoMA and lots of big museums, but you still have the New Museum, which is only six stories of space, but is very energetic. This is maybe something like Arts Center. Another thing that will set us apart, even after the WKCD opens, is our size. We always work within our limitations, i.e. not receiving recurrent funding from the government. Because we do our best to survive, we can understand that which is at stake in the art scene. That’s why we commit ourselves to creating excellent and cutting edge content, which in turn changes the cultural landscape of the city.

What we’re seeing now is that the key players are expats again. It’s because we have yet to acquire the skills.

BF: Do you see the Arts Center as targeting Hong Kong “locals” more than new immigrants from for instance Singapore or Taiwan? Or do you not make that distinction? TK: From my own perspective, I don’t think we really make a boundary. If we believe in the project, we just do it. Our motto is to make art available for all. There is however one particular area that we have been exploring for the past few years, which is looking at how to bring art to different groups, including minorities. CL: What we don’t do is focus on “superficial” audience building. We try to focus on several different types of groups, such as teenagers, 104


ethnic minority groups, or the hearing impaired. The next group we’re going to be working with is actually what we call the “young old”, or people who go into early retirement. The reason we want so many different groups is so we can really try to do something in depth. I don’t want to say that we’re trying to empower them with art; rather we just want to share knowledge with them. For example, in our visual arts group, some of our graduates are housewives, who after studying have become full time artists, and discover a second life. We want to transform people’s lives through art. This is our very simple vision. We understand too that from a general art audience to artists, there is a very wide spectrum of people. We just want to let people taste art, and give them the freedom to choose their way, and to find out more if they are interested. We also respect those who don’t like arts, but before they come to that conclusion, we want to make art accessible by bringing art to the community and the community to art.

Hong Kong in the coming five years will increasingly pay more attention to Asia. BF: How do you see Hong Kong in five years? IL: Well, in terms of performing arts, my personal wish is that this initiative in West Kowloon will spin off a lot more attention on art and hence forth, funding initiatives from different sectors of the society. I also hope to see the scene grow in prominence as well as capacity to achieve sustainability. At the same time, I hope the audience spectrum would grow in size and depth as well. CL: We are now facing a vey interesting transition period in Hong Kong history. When you ask about five years from now, I have to first go back to the city’s history. In the past, the leaders of most Hong Kong institutions were British, but over time they were gradually replaced with people from Hong Kong. What we’re seeing now is that the key players are expats again. It’s because we have yet to acquire the skills. We’re managing big projects that are very international, it’s almost as if we have returned to a certain part of our history again. Talking though about the future, I envision that we will have a transition period where the locals, regardless of their ages, have to adopt to the new system. It’s not only about survival, it’s also about how to govern things, what are the best policies, and also what makes the best environment. Right now, Hong Kong is – I don’t want to say it but – protective. Most of the funding tends to go to the local artists. What we’re seeing though is that lots of expat administrators, but also artists are coming to Hong Kong. There are lots of Europeans who are coming, particularly from France. 105


I don’t think it’s bad, I think it’s going back to the very beginning of Hong Kong’s development in the seventies, where a big pool of British and Europeans came and got positions in commerce, in the arts scene, etc., because there was no Hong Kong talent at that time who could compete with them. We are repeating this history in some sense, but this time we have a more active role to play. The question now for arts practitioners in Hong Kong becomes that of dealing with the situation during this transition period. How can we think of a new system? How can we envisage the fact that yes, we might lack a certain amount of international experience, but we could transform our own experience in our local context. We are very open to absorb new things, new knowledge from expats who are contributing to Hong Kong. From what I’ve learned from the history of Hong Kong, the people are very adaptable. They take things from all over and internalize it until it becomes their own. I think that after five years, or perhaps a longer time, Hong Kong arts practitioners will adopt the new challenges and develop a new system in the Hong Kong arts scene. I see it as something repeating in the history of the city. If this situation is similar to what happened last time, I think that we will see the rise of a new class of Hong Kong arts practitioners in the future who are empowered by the knowledge they have gained. One more thing is that Hong Kong in the coming five years will increasingly pay more attention to Asia, rather than just focusing on Europe and the United States. This is something that will also change the arts scene. In the past, Hong Kong has been heavily influenced by the United States and Europe, but in the future, Asia’s influence will be as important too. BF: Thank you everyone for your responses.

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Tina Pang, Pi Li Tina Pang is curator for Hong Kong Art and Culture at the M+ Museum for Visual Culture. Pi Li is senior curator at the M+ Museum for Visual Culture.


Brandon Farnsworth: Having worked for quite some time now in museums and galleries in China, you decided to come to Hong Kong. What sort of differences have you noticed between the two experiences? Pi Li: Hong Kong is the place where the West and China combine. You have a relatively complete infrastructure, which tends to make the institutions very stable. The management, the board, everything has its own place, and isn’t constantly shifting. Once you know the system, then you know how to drive the machine. They often take a while to make a decision, but once it’s made, it doesn’t change so easily. In China, things work in another way. They don’t have this stable machine. They don’t have the complete infrastructure. The system of power is constantly shifting. For instance, you can be a curator, but also run a gallery. A gallery could then simply turn into a museum! Collectors also sometimes deal the work. You can interpret this in a negative way, but there are also some advantages to this. It’s quite flexible, they tend to make decisions quickly, but they can also change their decision quickly. You can still see a kind of energy, or a kind of fresh feeling there. I don’t see this as so negative at all, actually. There are so many models for this so-called “creative industry”, it really just comes down to how you do it. Art Basel moving to Hong Kong is really a challenge for them, because they need to understand a new type of collector, a new way of dealing and trading art. We have reached a certain level of globalization in the art world, but sometimes it can be very local. This is the second year that Art Basel has been here, so they’re only starting to get an idea of how the system works. BF: So it’s easier to establish a steady institution here, whereas it is much easier for artists to set up a studio, etc., somewhere in China. PL: Yes. In terms of China, the whole management model is quite rough. At the same time though, they can develop things much easier. For example, in Hong Kong, young artists have a very hard time getting their first exhibition in a gallery because the rent is so high. In Beijing on the other hand, the rent isn’t so expensive, and there are so many galleries that there are therefore much more possibilities to create crazy new works. So in Beijing there are much more opportunities for young artists, and in Hong Kong there are less. When you ask me to compare working in the two cities, it’s actually not so clear which one is better. They’re just different. The other thing is if you go to cities like Beijing, Shanghai, or even Zurich or Berlin, they have had an arts and culture education infrastructure for many years. That includes professors, teachers, critics, etc. Looking at Beijing for instance, the style of artists coming from schools like the Central Academy of Fine Arts is totally different than that coming from Hangzhou. Say then a young artist comes to me, I can compare his work to that of others in his location in order to see whether or not there is merit to his work. Hong Kong doesn’t really have this same strong arts institutional tradition. Lots of people study abroad and bring their own style here. It’s also very difficult then for people to make judgments about the art. 108


This is probably the most challenging aspect for Hong Kong. On the other hand though, the people here have a very international view, and can speak excellent English. They are really taking part in this globalized lifestyle.

Say a young artist comes to me, I can compare his work to that of others in his location in order to see whether or not there is merit to his work. BF: What are the challenges of building an audience for the upcoming museum? PL: Hong Kong is a very diverse place, with lots of foreigners, bankers, and also this kind of middle class. Somehow though, from a contemporary art point of view, Hong Kong is quite a conservative place. They don’t have a very open mind, especially compared with other places in China or Taiwan. They have very much preserved the traditional social system quite well. Hong Kong is also a place for transfer. People come here, they work or study, and then they go, they emigrate. Therefore, figuring out who our audience actually consists of is a big challenge for us. Michael Schindhelm: Speaking about Hong Kong as becoming an international city, as well as about how the city will change in the next several years, how do people, especially artists, who have lived here for a long time view the changes that are taking place? Tina Pang: I think it’s a very complex picture. There are certain people who travel very easily between various worlds, who see a lot of international exhibitions and artists. For them, it’s going to be a very welcome development. For others, I think it’s going to be a much more challenging development. Unfortunately, at this moment in time there is a very specific political climate which can be said to have nothing to do with the development of cultural institutions or West Kowloon. It is a prism though through which West Kowloon and M+ will be viewed. There is a lot of sensitivity about the protection of freedom of expression, about universal suffrage, about the big changes in the political landscape here, and Hong Kong’s unique cultural identity. We are meant to get universal suffrage in 2017, but it remains that nominees of the Central Government will appoint the candidates for Chief Executive. 109


West Kowloon coming at this time means that it’s getting caught up in some of these discussions. There is also sensitivity to the fact that as the cultural infrastructure develops, there are more jobs, many of which require very substantial experience and specific skills that are hard to find in Hong Kong. Therefore a lot of experienced people with different backgrounds have been appointed to quite high positions. It has certainly created a kind of tension. At the end of the day though, the jump in capacity, in skills, in experience, will kind of filter down, and have a positive impact on everyone. We are three years into the project and we’ve already begun to see this happen. Where before there was some caution and reservation, we are now slowly seeing that gradually beginning to change.

M+’s growth has been uncomfortable for some people, and incited anger in very small quarters. BF: Could you talk about the role of M+ in art education? PL: Yes! From the point of view of M+, our initiatives such as Mobile M+ or M+ Matters are all attempts to build up the audience here. We are trying to change the public into an art-going public. I think that in four to five years, we can definitely effect some change in the city. Even now, we are trying to approach young students in schools, to start educating them at an early age. Every project we do, we try and think about it mostly from the perspective of involvement with the public, as well as art education. We don’t just design education programs to promote our exhibitions; rather the art exhibitions themselves are the art education. The second aspect is our planned digital M+ program. We will probably be the first museum in the world to have an online program before the actual museum exists. Digital M+ is an education platform that can be used to reach a broad audience in Hong Kong but also internationally. Usually, a museum’s online presence is a mirror of what they are doing in the physical space, but we are trying to do something different. We still have our physical shows, but we also have a part that is only online. We are also exploring types of exhibitions that are only possible to do online. The Neon Signs exhibition is an example of this. People use Google Maps to explore the city’s disappearing neon signs, which are being slowly replaced by LEDs. People use their phones to take pictures of the neon signs, and upload them to the website, which then puts it, in a way, into the city’s cultural memory. 110


Another project we are doing is the Right is Wrong show in Umeå, Sweden, which shows selections from the museum’s M+ Sigg collection. We are trying to develop a website project alongside it that can show the connections between each of the works. We’re developing a sort of timeline that shows how each of the artists is linked to the others. This is something that can only really be done on the Internet. There’s also a project with art magazines from the 60’s to the 80’s. In the modern museum space, you can only really show a book in a bookcase, and can’t really touch it. If it’s a PDF though, you can view the magazine, and examine how the artists worked together with the writers, etc. People can really view the magazines page by page, and have a chance to zoom up on a certain work or drawing, for instance those made by Ai Weiwei. We’ve made our whole collection accessible in this way. TP: In my opinion, an important factor for the museum in terms of art education is our strong learning and interpretation team. Of course we have a strong curatorial team that is working on one level, but the learning and interpretation team – which is growing – is working much more with less art-savvy or art-comfortable audiences. They are doing very important work reaching out to these audiences, trying to diminish people’s fears and this feeling that art is not for them, while at the same time building our future audience. I think it’s a gradual process. For general audiences, the growth in foreign and more established galleries arriving in Hong Kong has offered them an opportunity outside of art fairs and outside of the auctions to see a lot more art, which is positive for everyone. M+’s growth has certainly been uncomfortable for some people, and incited some anger in very small quarters. But these are people who have felt frustrated by the existing institutions, or even marginalized previously, before M+, before foreign galleries. That may continue, but in general what we’re experiencing is that within the arts and writing communities, the development of the museum is certainly being taken very positively. The museum will also have an effect on teaching institutions as well. There will be a need for very well trained and experienced people, but whether having schools train people (as many now intend) in Arts Administration, or Venue Management, or even Art History in order to fit the needs of the West Kowloon is the best way or not remains in question. Certainly, somewhere down the line there will be opportunities for these graduates, but at this stage, experience is probably more important than any qualification. On the other hand, there are a large number of other cultural institutions in China that are being built that will need to be staffed. That is a very real need and represents a very strong demand for universities that offer the kind of training and professional skills that institutions here are not yet able to offer. MS: A lot of Chinese cities are getting comparably expensive to Hong Kong in terms of cost of living, but here there are still the advantages of freedom of expression, free trade, higher competency to deal with globalization than in other parts of Asia, as well as strong institutions like the upcoming M+. Do you think that in the long run, Hong Kong will become attractive for established artists because of these advantages? 111


PL: At this moment, yes, free expression is very important, but for most Chinese artists, there is another problem here, namely the misunderstandings between Hong Kong and the mainland. It takes place even on the level of daily life, and can sometimes lead to an unpleasant experience for the artists living here. As for freedom of expression, it can change the art language quite a lot, but freedom of speech still doesn’t change the political situation. Chinese artists already learn how to express themselves without necessarily being explicit.

BF: How do you see the museum fitting into the cultural landscape of Hong Kong? TP: We are in this extraordinary position of being able to draw on what has already been done by our colleagues in the museums here, on their foundation and the groundwork which they have set out, and build a museum that’s much more international in scope, and that’s much more about thinking what Hong Kong will need in ten or twenty years’ time if it’s really going to be a truly international city in Asia. It’s a very ambitious project, but it’s also very exciting. The goal is eventually to have a museum that is really forward thinking, and that incorporates a lot of the museological and institutional developments that are happening elsewhere in the world that would not otherwise be able to be implemented in Hong Kong. This is due to the city’s often rigid and somewhat intransigent structure, which is now changing slightly, partly in response to the M+ and the West Kowloon Cultural District. In that sense, I think that the District has been a very positive thing. MS: There are still four years to go before the museum opens. What is going to happen with the collection during this time? PL: We will start to tour the collection. We have plans to exhibit the Right is Wrong exhibition at the Whitworth Museum, the new museum of the University of Manchester, next March until May. The exhibition will then travel to Hong Kong in August of 2015. We are now planning after that to tour the collection around Britain, Japan, and possibly China, but we first need to see how we handle the censorship issue. After that, the collection will return to Hong Kong early 2017, and by that time, our storage facilities here will be completed, so we don’t need to ship the collection back to Switzerland any more. We will also have a new Arts Pavilion, a 400m² space where we will will be able to show other areas of the collection. MS: So by touring the collection, as well as showing it in Hong Kong, you are already starting to pull back the curtain before the museum is finished. Are you not afraid that by showing these works before the opening, you are spoiling the big reveal in 2017? PL: Well, talking about Chinese art and the M+ Sigg Collection, you first need to give people the whole picture. Our idea was that doing this show before the opening would give people the storyline of the collection, so that when the museum opens we can show specific parts of it without losing oversight. 112


The other serious project in the next two years is going to be that of writing and researching the collection. MS: Storyline is a great word. Are you actually developing something like a narrative around the collection? PL: I wrote actually a very long article which will be published next month, which is entitled Four Decades of Chinese Art from the M+ Sigg Collection. Basically I will be talking about how this kind of collection of Chinese contemporary art stepped out of the box starting in the 1970’s. The developments in art during this time are something we try and analyze through the collection. We are not talking about what Chinese contemporary art is, or who Uli Sigg is, rather we are trying to illustrate history through the works. The other serious project in the next two years is going to be that of writing and researching the collection. When we talk about Chinese contemporary art, we always talk about the big names like Ai Weiwei, but there are still so many things that have not really been explored yet. We are well set up here because on the one hand we have the works now, and on the other we have the Asia Art Archive here. We are inviting art historians to come study the archives and the works, and are encouraging them to write about their research. In this way we hope to deepen our understanding of the collection. Lastly, it’s important to remember that one collection cannot possibly represent the complexity of the whole of Chinese contemporary art. We are still trying to add works to the core collection, in order to fill in the gaps and broaden our reach. MS: What are your plans for the next four years, leading up to the opening of the museum? TP: My position is slightly different from my colleagues because I’m focusing more closely on Hong Kong, doing things such as communicating with the government museums in order to understand their collecting strategies. For instance, the Hong Kong Museum of Art recently received a 50 million HKD (6 million CHF) grant to collect specifically Hong Kong art. This has somewhat crystalized their role, as well as help us to think more clearly about how our collection of Hong Kong visual culture will work. We use the term loosely, but M+ will eventually be a kind of panAsian museum that will also look at diasporic art as well as of course the movements that influences those artists. What is going to be really 113


exciting will be to see Asian art from the post-war period up to the present, placing Hong Kong art within a broader and much more international context – it’s unrealistic and a simplification to see it only within the context of Hong Kong. The art will be placed within exhibitions and collections that reference and reflect other parts of the world and other traditions. BF: On behalf of Mr. Schindhelm and I, I would like to thank both of you for taking the time to talk to us today.

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Leung Po-Shan

Leung Po-Shan is a researcher at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and has also served as the General Manager of Para Site.


Brandon Farnsworth: How do you see the art world in Hong Kong changing in the next five years? Leung Po-Shan: Since the sixties, since colonial times, the art world here has revolved mainly around public institutions. We have libraries, museums, the City Hall, all very much the British systems. They were all first established as public institutions where everybody could go. There wasn’t really any kind of elitist or commercial art world that existed. This continued until 1997, more or less. After that, it wasn’t so much the political changes that made things different so much as globalization and the influx of money, which really shifted the focus of the art world. Hong Kong of course was always an extremely capitalistic city, but that never really affected the art world until after the reunification. What happened was that the government wanted to make culture useful. It was similar to other city regeneration projects like you see in London and a lot of northern English cities.

We set up the West Kowloon Cultural District on reclaimed land in the harbor. There’s no history at all there. BF: So it’s the creative city strategy. LP: Yes. Richard Florida, that way of thinking. The situation is a little bit different, though. In Europe and in North America, this phenomenon happened because of the shift to post-industrialism, because of the need to change the economic structures, to change the city. I always disagree with interpreting Hong Kong in this same way. All the industry is moving to China, but Hong Kong is a hub for design and exhibition industries already, so we haven’t experienced mass-scale depopulation or loss of investment. It’s quite the opposite, actually. All the money coming to Asia comes to Hong Kong as well. The context is therefore very different, however the way that they deal with culture here is very similar. Lots of these “creative cities” set up their creative quarters in old areas that they want to regenerate. Here however, we set up the West Kowloon Cultural District on reclaimed land in the harbor. There’s no history at all there. Another dimension then comes up, which is the fact that this project is something that is totally foreign to here. It is therefore very reasonable that M+ doesn’t have any relationship with the cultural life of the city. 116


BF Here in Hong Kong, I’ve heard a lot about the Police Married Quarter (PMQ) project in Central. Do you see this project connected to this same phenomenon as well? LP: It’s a little bit of a different context, so yes and no. Do you know about the preservation movement in Hong Kong, like the Queen’s Pier and the Star Pier? The movement was started in 2006. Before that, heritage didn’t have a place in Hong Kong. It existed, but mostly in corporate and regenerative projects. The city regeneration strategy in Hong Kong is usually just to uproot everything and build something new. The public began to put a large pressure – I was involved in this – on the government because they wanted to preserve their history through preservation of the urban landscape. In response to this, the government set up the Development Bureau. Since then, projects like the PMQ, and several others as well, have benefitted from big investments from the government. Somehow, this new interest in art and the preservation movement became a perfect match. Heritage is difficult to use, there are a lot of regulations as to what you can do and not do. Using it for commercial purposes is not always the easiest thing then to do. It became however a very good and fitting façade for art and art activities. The PMQ is a product of this movement. BF: So it helps legitimatize the project, just like the historicization process seen in other creative city strategies. LP: Yes. Well originally, they just wanted to uproot everything. But after several waves of protests and resistance movements from the local community, specifically from the Central and Western Concern Group, they relented. The protesters actually overlapped a bit with the arts circle, particularly a man named John Batten. He’s a gallerist as well as an activist, whose first gallery started in the area. He’s the one that organized the concern group with other people in the neighbourhood. They demanded not just to preserve this or that particular building, but also to preserve the livelihood of the local neighbourhoods, specifically the wet market nearby.

Well originally, they just wanted to uproot everything. But after protests and resistance movements, they relented. 117


BF: Talking about preservation, it’s clear the city is changing rapidly. How do you see M+ fitting into this shifting landscape? LP: M+ is the flagship for the whole creativity discourse in Hong Kong. The government wants to have this big flagship establishment, but this also attracts all the capital. Because of Hong Kong’s specific context, this means that the real-estate companies become involved. These companies then start to take culture as their instrument as well. For instance, there is the K-11 and their art mall, which is a project of the Urban Renewal Authority (URA). This union between the real-estate companies and the URA is a direct result of not just M+, but of the whole dynamic that the West Kowloon project will bring to Hong Kong.

M+ is the flagship for the whole creativity discourse in Hong Kong. BF: What are your thoughts on the M+ Sigg Collection? LP: Actually I’m quite positive about the effect it will have. A lot of people from the art world here are quite negative, but personally I see it from a wider perspective. The collection is actually very important for Chinese contemporary art, but in China itself, there is no institution that can store and show this collection properly. This is because the government does not see it as officially sanctioned art. Even so-called civil society is not able to manage the collection, as they are very much reliant on the government for economic success. This is why the Sigg Collection cannot find a proper place in China. Hong Kong could play a very important role in this regard because here we have the protocols already in place that are needed to properly manage the collection, as well as the steady funding required to maintain it. BF: What about the argument that the museum’s collection might not be a fair representation of Chinese contemporary art? LP: It’s important to remember that each collection naturally carries the collector’s point of view. After a couple years of acquisitions though, it should be possible to balance out this point of view with others. What I’m looking forward to is the M+ rounding out their collection, and establishing their own point of view in regards to the rest of the art ecosystem. This will of course take some time though. What people don’t understand is that a museum cannot be built in a day. It’s an accumulation of years and years of effort, of exhibitions, of strategic acquisitions, of academic research, etc. BF: In my interview with Professor Kurt Chan, we talked about the possibility that Mobile M+ has in a way already done the job of raising the status of art in Hong Kong internationally, bringing in big galleries etc. What would you say about that? 118


LP: Like I said, the museum is not just about the physical buildings. They’ve already set up quite a good, diverse team. They come from many different nationalities and represent many different points of view, and that’s perhaps more important than the actual physical museum itself. I won’t agree that international standards are higher than the local ones, though. I tend to think more in terms of systems of overlapping circles. I actually really dislike the perception that the international standards are higher than the local ones. In fact, I tend to think it’s the other way around! Put it this way, this whole initiative is more about bringing in different methods and attitudes towards doing things instead of different standards.

The collection is actually very important for Chinese contemporary art, but in China itself, there is no institution that can store and show this collection properly. BF: Is the museum going to drive more people to go to museums and look at art, or is it going to take its audience from other museums that already exist in Hong Kong? LP: They’re building a very different audience. Not just that, they’re also building a new Hong Kong culture or cultural identity. It’s similar to what happened in the sixties with the City Hall, which is for me the beginning of a modern, local identity in Hong Kong. The City Hall is the first time that the people living here started to have a different identity from that of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Chinese, which was a very Cold War concept. We were slowly taught that we were different from the PRC, although we are all Chinese. As I see it, the job of M+ is very similar, but with some key differences. The identity they are building is somehow cosmopolitan, but at the same time integrated into China. Especially given the tensions between Hong Kong and the mainland in recent years, this has become quite important. 119


The audience building programs that they have done so far are very clearly something different from the way it used to be. For example, I went to a concert last year where they had a mix of singers from Taiwan, mainland China, and local Hong Kong singers. Significantly, this was also reflected in the audience. Standing in the crowd, I heard much more Mandarin than Cantonese. They are building up a different audience through these programs. BF: Thank you so much for your insights! LP: Thank you!

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Tobias Berger

Tobias Berger is a curator at the M+ Museum for Visual Culture, and has previously worked as Managing Director and Curator at Para Site.


Brandon Farnsworth: What has been your role at the ­ museum so far? Tobias Berger: In the beginning, there was only Lars Nittve and I, and now we have about seventeen curators, so I did curate at the begin­ning, as well as the Mobile M+ exhibitions, all of them up till now I think, but it’s not my main job at the moment. I also curated the booth here (at Art Basel Hong Kong), but my main job at the moment is actually building the physical building together with Herzog & De Meuron, as well as doing acquisitions and things like that. M+, for the first three years, was really more like a start-up, we had two people, three people, four people; it was just a very fast start-up with a very exact timeline. We constantly change the way we operate, especially me, I did a little bit of everything at the beginning and now I’m more concentrated. Michael Schindhelm: It seems your role is getting a little bit more structured. What will be your core subject for the next years during the preparation for the museum? TB: I personally think I will stay with the building, I think that will be the major subject. It’s actually very interesting how important an institutional history is. For instance, knowing why that door is there and why you thought about this or that. Things develop, and sometimes you need to go back into that history to understand why certain things are the way they are, especially in the case of a building. Since I’ve been on the project the longest, except Lars of course, who has an overview of the details, I’m perhaps in the best position to understand what’s going on. This project has the amazing luxury of being able to be built from the inside out and from a curatorial point of view, which is very unusual. Most museums or galleries, if they are new, have been built by politicians, and then hire a museum director, maybe a year before completion. That’s why we have all these galleries that look great in the city landscape but are impossible to work with. I think the beauty of this museum project is exactly that: it is completely built in a very flexible way, so it can grow with a collection whose final shape and form we don’t yet know. MS: How is this building process being organized? TB: M+ is only one department within the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority. There is a project delivery department, and this department is the one responsible for building. They are the architects, the en­gineers, and so on. They are responsible for building, but they subcontract out to a management firm. There are then engineers and architects on the board of the museum, the Museum Joint Venture, who actually build it. We found out that we needed an architect on our M+ team too, who we hired half a year ago now. It’s just somebody on our side who understands what’s going on. Building is a game; it’s about money, it’s about time, it’s about responsibilities, so you need somebody on your side that understands that game, otherwise you are lost. One of my friends is working at a museum in Germany that just got a big addition, which turned out to be no good because the city development team took over, and they don’t understand things like why you don’t want a door in the middle of a long wall. That’s why we need­ed to balance it out from our side, that’s why the architect, an excellent consultant, and I are here. 122


The museum is not the same as a building, ­ the museum is actually the relationship between content and audience. BF: Each of these Mobile M+ exhibitions that you’ve done so far seems to target a different audience, a different space. Can you talk about the strategy and the planning of these exhibitions? TB: There was this one mantra which we had, which was “the museum is not the same as a building, the museum is actually the relationship between content and audience.” The building is a beautiful tool, and one that we need, but actually we can have a “museum”, or exhibitions, before we open, which is what we did with Mobile M+. The concept of Mobile M+ was threefold: it was a chance to build audience for the museum, it was also a chance for us to learn about Hong Kong, and finally it was a chance to build up our team. The very first Mobile M+ project was the Bamboo Theater, where we worked together with the performing arts team, building things around this amazing theater. It was however more of an add-on to an already-existing project. It was also testing out how we could work with the performing arts team, which has common goals, but at the same time is very different. We all learned how difficult it is. A performing-arts production is run completely differently than a contemporary art production. It’s amazing how different it actually works! We didn’t do it again. They still do the Bamboo Theater, but we’re not project partners anymore because of these huge differences. A lot of these smaller exhibitions were more about the local arts community, for instance Aric Chan’s Building M+ exhibition, which targeted the design and architectural community. It was trying to tell them that we have a collection and to show them what amazing treasure you have here in regards to urbanism, as well as Hong Kong as a space. The Yau Ma Tei project, the first “real” Mobile M+, was really research into this neighbourhood of Yau Ma Tei, which is the neighbourhood that we’re going to be located next to. It’s one of the most fascinating neigbourhoods in Hong Kong because it is still in the city, but its still very rough, and there’s a lot of drugs, prostitution, and night-markets. It’s probably the most typically “Hong Kong” space in the city center. With these first few projects, we learned a lot about audience, and about what we are about. We also got the chance to give Hong Kong 123


artists, designers, and filmmakers bigger projects. In Hong Kong, not having a decent museum or Kunsthalle or anything, these people never got the opportunity to do certain things. Some of it was not even big in size, for instance one artist couple (Kwan Sheung-chi and Wong Wai-yin] just produced a gold coin for a lot of money that they then wanted to throw in the harbour. It’s a totally crazy project, and it’s one that you can do only if you have these resources. Inflation! was more about researching the site where the future M+ will be. It was also about checking out what will happen if you put something super spectacular on this site, like the future museum. Will people come? We had 150’000 in a month, which was an amazing amount. This changes a lot, because in Hong Kong there’s always this assumption that you won’t get audience, which is totally ridiculous. I mean look at how many people Art Basel draws in, come on! The Neon Signs project, which was also a Mobile M+ project, was a fantastic one, because it was about Hong Kong, but at the same time it was connecting the city into a global landscape. It also produced such a great amount of new works, of films, of research, of articles. We basically made an exhibition, a catalogue, and a web project all in one. We’re getting great support with this project, with people shooting pictures of neon signs in Hong Kong, so there’s this crowd-sourcing element as well. It’s been a huge success. So, that’s the aim of these Mobile M+ exhibitions, audience building, but also staff building, and showing to Hong Kong what we are all about!

We are building a worldclass facility that will look at Asia as well as the world from a Hong Kong point of view. BF: How will the M+ Museum affect the current Hong Kong arts landscape? TB: It will be a process, but basically, we are building the museum that Asia does not have. We are building a world-class facility that will look at Asia, as well as the world, from a Hong Kong point of view. How much did Tate Modern change London? A lot! I think it will hopefully be even more extreme because London had a thriving arts scene already. To a certain extent though, it has already changed things here. We have seven senior curators here now, which means that even gallery openings are completely different now. If there is a gallery opening now, there are several of us who go, which changes already a lot of dynamics in the scene. 124


What we’ve basically done is take the best people from Asia and gather them in Hong Kong, even just that changes the Asia network, because a lot of important people are here now. BF: Do you think that the museum will create an audience, or take it away from other institutions? TB: No museum has ever taken away audience. They create audience. We have a huge education program, which will be better than the other museums because of all these resources we have. People then move on to other museums, too. They go to other places, they get interested. This fair (Art Basel Hong Kong) for example created audiences for the museum. This is, per day, the most-visited art fair in the world, it’s amazing! MS: How do you plan to keep the ball rolling during the lead-up to the museum’s opening? TB: 4 year is unfortunately faster than one thinks. We will calm down a bit, because we also realize – talking about Mobile M+ for instance – it is so difficult to do these projects in Hong Kong, where space is so limited, and bureaucracy is so outrageous. We’ve realized that we need to concentrate our resources more on the collection and the building. I don’t think we will do another big Mobile M+ exhibition, for instance. We will get the Arts Pavilion next year, or end of next year, where we will be focusing our energy during the lead-up to opening. Right now, we have to concentrate on preparing the first years of the new museum. I think these mobile exhibitions were very important to do. We made our mark, but right now we have to focus more on the museum itself.

Whatever building or team you have, you need a collection. Uli Sigg gave us an amazing foundation and we’re going from there.

BF: Can you talk about the M+’s acquisition project? TB: The acquisition project is huge. Whatever building or team you have, you need a collection. Uli Sigg gave us an amazing foundation and we’re going from there. We’ve always said “a global point of view from a Hong Kong perspective”, with Hong Kong in the center, and expanding out. Of course, starting off then with a large number of works from mainland China made the whole thing a little off-balance. The first two years were about creating a balance, so we did a lot of buying of Hong Kong art, 125


design, and architecture, and really got that going. With the arrival of Doryun Chong as chief curator, we entered a new phase where we now go more for classical Asian art from the fifties and sixties, as well as becoming much more international. Now we collect like we should collect, but that only started a few months ago. Certainly, we still collect Hong Kong art, but we also collect more Asian international. BF: So China is only one branch? It’s often perceived as a museum for contemporary Chinese art. TB: Yes, but it’s actually not! That’s a problem of perception, but having the Sigg Collection, that’s what you get. BF: Do you see yourself balancing out the Sigg collection with later works by the same artists? TB: Yes, or earlier works. The Sigg collection is very good, but there are gaps that we are now filling in, while also balancing it out with other artists. It’s a great foundation, but we still buy quite actively in China, and are also getting donations. We just got another important donation from the collector Guan Yi, who gave us, among others, Canton Express, which was the first presentation of Guangzhou artists at the Venice Biennial. It is in an area in which Uli Sigg wasn’t so strong, but it’s fantastic work! Every collection has gaps, so you just have to add on, it’s also what Uli Sigg wanted.

It’s a museum for visual culture, but which will have a certain Hong Kong identity.

MS: What is then the museum’s mission? Does it have something like a specific geographical focus? TB: It’s a museum for visual culture, but which will have a certain Hong Kong identity. It is an open society, a place of crossroads, a very dense place. We will have as much Western art as there is Asian art in Tate or MoMA. It will be there, but it’s not our focus. Somebody offered to donate us a work by Tino Segal, and we happily accepted. Yesterday, we had a talk with European artist who worked in Beijing for a long time who has certain pieces I would like to buy but I couldn’t afford, and he was happy to donate it. We bought Asian Fields yesterday, which is an Anthony Gomley piece, but was done in China. But do I go out and buy a Polke now for five hundred thousand or a million? No! Would I go and buy a Rauschenberg? Yes, because he was quite influential during his travels to China. It’s about telling stories. We’re not going to reinvent the wheel, but we’re going to shift the perspective from a more Western one to a more Asian focus. We build a new narrative, a new story. 126


MS: In terms of numbers, can you elaborate? TB: The problem with numbers is how you count. Yesterday, we got a collection from Red A that was like five hundred pieces, but I’m not saying we collected five hundred pieces, so it’s very difficult. I would say we have about three thousand pieces now in the collection, which is very little for a museum. Of that, about 1 500 is from Uli Sigg, then 700–800 from Hong Kong, and the rest are from China and Taiwan. There are only a few at the moment from America, however there are quite a few from Asian diaspora artists. BF: Thank you very much for your responses. TB: Nice to talk to you!

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Biographies

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Claudio Bucher was born in St. Gallen, Switzerland, in 1980. He studied Media Science, Journalism, and Modern German Literature in Fribourg, Switzerland, from 2001 until 2004. He is currently working as a music producer and sound designer, and is in his last year of Masters of Arts in Art Education at the Zurich University of the Arts. Patrick Kull was born in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1987. He graduated from his Bachelors in Media Arts at the Zurich University of the Arts in 2008. Currently, he is in his last year of Masters of Arts in Fine Arts at the Zurich University of the Arts. Brandon Farnsworth was born in Montreal, Canada, in 1991. He completed his Bachelors of Arts in Music in 2013, and he is currently finishing up his Masters of Arts in Transdiciplinary Studies at the Zurich University of the Arts in Switzerland. Michael Schindhelm was born in 1960 in East Germany. He studied Quantum Chemistry in the USSR and became a director of theatre and opera in both Basel and Berlin. He is a writer, filmmaker, and advisor to the Zurich University of the Arts, and was also involved in the master planning of the West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong.

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Photo Credits Cover (from left to right and from top to bottom) Patrick Kull (2, 4, 6, 7, 9) Marc Latzel (3, 5, 11, 13) Michael Schindhelm (12) Studio photos (1, 8, 10, 14): see Portraits by Patrick Kull for credits Travelogue by Claudio Bucher Mandy Yeung (p. 11, p. 24) Parasol Solutions (p. 16) Claudio Bucher (p. 28, p. 32) ng:studio, Nigel Gregory (p. 36)

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Acknowledgments Daniela Bär, Silvia Berchtold, Tobias Berger, Kurt Chan Yuk-Keung, Kwan Sheung Chi, Connecting Spaces Hong Kong–Zurich, Glenn Ellingsen, Michael Etter, Chow Chun Fai, Niklaus Gysi, Kong Chun Hei, Tang Kwok Hin, Y-Loft Youth Hostel, Nathalie Kull, Nuria Krämer, Teresa Kwong, Connie Lam, Marc Latzel, Ian Leung, Michael Leung, Jaffa Lam Laam, Pi Li, Quinyi Lim, Patrick Müller, Jonas Niedermann, Lam Tung Pang, Tina Yee-Wan Pang, Leung Po-Shan, Michael Schindhelm, Annette Schönholzer, Uli Sigg, Daniel Späti, Marc Spiegler, Frank Tang, Ami Tsz Hei Tsang, Ko Sin Tung, Lai Cheuk Wah Sarah, Christoph Weckerle, Ruedi Widmer, Alice Wong, Morgan Wong, Mandy Yeung, MA Fine Arts (ZHdK), MA Kulturpublizistik (ZHdK), MA Transdisciplinary Studies (ZHdK), Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK)


Connecting Spaces Documents # 1 Edited by Connecting Spaces Hong Kong – Zurich Zurich University of the Arts Authors Claudio Bucher, Michael Etter, Brandon Farnsworth, Patrick Kull, Michael Schindhelm Translation Mark Kyburz (Michael Schindhelm) Editing Daniela Bär, Brandon Farnsworth, Patrick Müller Supervision Michael Schindhelm, Patrick Müller Concept/Design Studio Niedermann Typeface Founders Grotesk Text Paper Munken Print White 1.5 Prepress and Printing Niedermann Druck Binding Buchbinderei Grollimund All rights reserved © 2014 the authors for pictures and texts © 2014 for this edition Connecting Spaces Hong Kong – Zurich Zurich University of the Arts

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Profile for Connecting Spaces Hong Kong - Zurich

Why Hong Kong (English/German version)  

From February to September 2014, Claudio Bucher, Patrick Kull, and Brandon Farnsworth, Master’s students at Zurich University of the Arts (Z...

Why Hong Kong (English/German version)  

From February to September 2014, Claudio Bucher, Patrick Kull, and Brandon Farnsworth, Master’s students at Zurich University of the Arts (Z...

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