Eleven letters written in Chinese, which are written from August 2013 to May 2014 as curatorial statements delivering to participating artists each month.
Tam Wai Ping
Chung Nga Yan
Law Yuk Mui
Tang Kwok Hin
Ethnic hatred has polarized public opinion. There exists a conflict of lifestyle and culture between the North and South, mainland and island; apparent intervention from the mainland has deteriorated Hong Kong’s local public authorities, legal institutions and people’s ethic identity. The vested interest and political attitudes of Hong Kong residents drive three major political forces broadly described as pro-establishment, pan-democracy and radical. While these groups are subdivided into different parties and factions, it can be said that present agitating times have compelled citizens to utilise their, albeit competing, powers of speech.
Participants in periphery excluded, the core of this political energy represents the average Hong Konger who has begun to express their discontent with the realization that certain conventions held dear in “good old days” have vanished and daily patterns of life and principles of conduct are being challenged. Hong Kong has developed rapidly and continues to do so at a pace that makes it difficult for its citizens to pause and reflect upon what has been lost and gained and how and when this occurred. Perhaps there is a symbol that can help us to recall what was originally here and understand how the atmosphere has evolved? Is it an old bakery? The relationship between stores in a traditional market? Is it the British National (Overseas) passport? Before and after the Handover in 1997 and still today, Hong Kong people are in question about what it is that defines their collective identity. While things don’t appear to change before our eyes, we will discover that our identity has been distorted, possibly beyond recognition. The moment may pass before we truly recognise the intrinsic values that we are at risk of losing.
Contemporary society often refers to the most significant developments in Hong Kong’s constitutional reform, politics and social wellbeing as the years: 1989, 1997 and 2003. These three critical moments indicate times when Hong Kong felt the uncertainty of China’s communist government, thereby revealing a universal hesitation and resistance in Hong Kong people. The post-60s generation were adolescents in 1989 who reached their prime in 2003 while the post-80s generation were just youngsters in 1989 and only just coming into their own in 2003; one experienced history consciously and the other through books and online resources. The artists and curator represent both generations and the different values and perspectives each has and how these differences result in differing ideologies.
The fundamental Chinese writing lesson teaches how to fuse time, place and human/incident/object together. The total synthesis of these three elements creates pictures and forms characters. This exhibition uses this same practice to uncover the ideology that defines the social, political and cultural identity of a typical Hong Konger. Each artist has been asked to reinterpret, either abstractly or specifically, a time, place and human/incident/object and to compose scenarios, atmosphere, symbols, etc., in order to illustrate their own scenarios and stories within the context of the “scarlet bauhinia in full bloom”. This exhibition intends to capture the essence of the Hong Kong people’s complex, and too often concealed, identity.