Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Hong Kong Art and general craziness

Ahead of the Hong Kong Arts Festival starting this month, Nick & I decided to go and do something 'cultural' last weekend. We got a copy of the HK Magazine and went to the Arts page. There were several things of interest and we looked them up on the internet. One of the exhibitions looked to be, judging by the address, in someone's flat. Addresses can be deceiving in HK, so we decided to take a look on Google Earth. Low and behold it was in someone's front room. Clearly not feeling cultural and adventurous, we decided to give that one a miss!

The other two addresses looked fine, so we tore out the page and off we went to Central. The first was in The Pedder Building, adjacent to the exit d2 in Central. Easy. The front of the building was completely covered in scaffolding and the only small opening led down a long, poorly-lit corridor with a lone security guard sitting behind a desk at the end of it. We stood hesitantly for a few seconds and then ventured in. The security guard immediately sprung out of her chair and I thought she was going to shoo us out for trespassing. No, she was merely being helpful and pressed the lift button for us. A promising sign. We stepped into an old rickety lift which jerked and juddered as we ascended to the 5th floor. Out we stepped into an illuminated corridor with small glass-fronted shops. Hmm, not what we were expecting. Looking to the right the corridor seemed to stretch on endlessly and to the left we spotted what we were looking for.

The hand and the baby's head

Still somewhat unsure, we pushed open the glass door and stepped into what felt like the inside of a concrete box with three isolated statues inside, a bench and a screen. The statues were a white clay hand holding a branch, a black baby's head and a silver head on the floor which seemed to somewhat resemble a sphinx head. Shortly after we entered the screen sprung into life. We watched a short film, also made by the artist, of no more than a couple of minutes. As we got up to leave we saw a little man sitting at the back of the box, tucked away behind a bookshelf. He must have started the projector when we came in. We left feeling more than just a little confused.

An umbrella 'King of Kowloon' style

Back out into rare spring sunshine of HK, we concluded that we hadn't yet had our fill of exhibitions and ploughed on to the next one. Within walking distance of where we were we found another narrow entrance which looked like it was rarely used. We took the lift to the top floor and were greeted by whitewashed walls and frosted glass doors. There were names by the doors and none of them were remotely close to what we were looking for. I peered through the crack of one door and all I could see was an umbrella. I didn't think this could possibly be the place we were looking for, but Nick thought it was worth a try. The door opened and the umbrella was covered in Chinese script. Ah, we were in the right place. We had gone to see an exhibition of the 'King Of Kowloon' - a graffiti artist, active in the late 20th century, who had marked territory with endless scripts of a political nature, including walls, electrical boxes (they had one at the exhibition) and even a car (shame they didn't have that!). A very friendly girl came out and explained a couple of things to us, including where his name was in the texts.

This is worth HK$240,000

It would appear that exhibiting art is very different in Hong Kong. The places are smaller (could be due to lack of space) and often high up in a building (could be due to lack of space). It could also be due to a different attitude towards art; that I'm not sure about.


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