How To “Insert” Culture into Hong Kong

For one of the most “modernised” cities in the world, Hong Kong has long been criticised for its local culture scene. In a city where people are crammed into shoe boxes, stuffed into sardine cans and faced with the impossibly cruel ultimatum of  ‘get rich or die’, it seems that there is very little time to think about art, culture and what not.

DRE_5862

The late 80’s to early 90’s was a golden age for both the economy and culture in this sub-tropical hub: when film directors like Wong Kar-Wai and rock bands like Beyond swept the culture scene, Hong Kong had the privilege to think, to discuss, to enjoy, and to progress its art and culture. However, as the economy tightened and those at the lower stratum of the social structure began to suffocate due to the termination of class movement, Hong Kong quickly turned into a desert where even the most basic forms of art struggled to find its place.

Chungking-Express

Faye Wong in Chungking Express by Wong Kar-Wai

I do not believe that Hong Kong is a cultural desert. For me, Hong Kong has significant political, social, traditional and even sports cultures that have been very well preserved. When it comes to film, the concentration of movies made about this city is no less than ones made about New York or Paris. However, it is the prevailing consumption culture that continues to overshadow any other forms of culture, casting a permanent stormy cloud above this city. Even for masters like Wong Kar-Wai, the struggle to combine entertainment and art has never stopped when it comes to their relationship with Hong Kong, as even he found great difficulty in securing financial backing for his films.

in_the_mood_for_love

In the Mood for Love by Wong Kar-Wai

This idea can be seen in the occupy movement that took place last year, when the young felt that there was longer any space for them to breathe, to create, or even to live, as every other sector had been so heavily dominated by the rich and powerful.

I have met many local photographers, painters, illustrators, singers and DJs in Hong Kong, of which there are two very distinct types.
1. Those that are born with a silver spoon, who always had the privilege to enjoy, travel and indulge in fine art, who has the right connaissance in high society to build up their fame easily through this powerful network. 2. Those that are usually from a middle to middle-lower class background who have always been interested in doing something creative, but eventually finds it very difficult to progress anywhere as the demand for edgier, younger creative artists is extremely low. Those with a specific aesthetic vision, or to put it more straightforwardly, a vision that generates no profit, finds no place for themselves in the city as too few have either the courage or financial support to break out.

Even the head of the Cultural Department in Taiwan once said, “in a city where there is not even an official cultural institution, how can we expect the prosperity of culture?”

In a society where people believe in rationality, practicality, and realist economy more than anywhere else, it is not difficult to understand why art and culture is put at the bottom. Sure, there is Art Basel, there is Affordable Art Fair, there are extravagant galleries in SOHO,  and there are also abandoned-warehouse-transformed creative spaces hidden in Aberdeen. But how many of these are doing the art for the art itself? The pretentions to be recognised, to be talked-about, to be highly regarded, is a daunting fact to the creation of art in Hong Kong. If this has become the foundation on which people build or create, it should only be called a creative business. If we look at PMQ, the developers have successfully turned another heritage site into a giant shopping mall, in the name of supporting youth creativity. But in the end, how many of us have really paid the effort to walk through all the commercial oriented “artsy shops” that never ends? To me, this is a capitalistic scheme hidden behind a socialist appearance.

kitmindotcom-1539

Clockenflap has been a great attempt to reinject life into the culture and arts scene in Hong Kong. Since 2008, the city has been privileged to have created an urban space in the heart of the city, where unlike hidden bars and independent film screenings that only culture insiders would know of, people from all ages, all ethnicities and all cultural backgrounds are able to gather and join in on the celebration. Versatility is one of the keys to a successful music festival business. Even though Clockenflap initially wore the “indie” label, it has slowly grown out of a niche group of musicians and music lovers into a increasingly diverse and unique festival with big international and local participants.

Rocky 1

A$AP Rocky, who is one of the lineup highlights at this year’s Clockenflap

It is a rare sight to see new-era rapper A$AP Rocky dropping west-coast slangs in the same festival as British electro-punk legends New Order. Over on the other stage, the much-talked about golden child—Leah Dou, the 19-year-old daughter of two 90s Chinese legends: Faye Wong and Dou Wei. Leah’s effortlessly cool and short-hair-don’t-care unisex appeal, with her impeccable moody-bohemian vibe resembling but extending from her two parents’ youth, have attracted even Gucci’s Alessandro Michele to have her perform at the “No Longer, Not Yet” exhibition opening in Shanghai last month.

NewOrder_Photograph_CreditNickWilson (2)

New Order: Another cult highlight that will drive all the fans crazy this Sunday night

Leah Dou-EDIT

Leah Dou

The diversity of the line up goes on. One of England’s most important punk bands, The Libertines, was in attendance, as was Irish soul-healer Damien Rice, who was followed by Taiwanese indie rocker Crowd Lu. Whether you are a 15 year-old international school kid wearing an “underage” wristband getting drunk on beer, or an English Teacher from abroad wearing a shirt that says “I WAS IN MIAMI BITCH”, or even if you have always hid yourself in that underground dungeon in Sheung Wan dancing to French House all night long with French people constantly asking if you got an extra cigarette for them (Oui. C’est moi), I am sure you would find something that makes you happy here. Clockenflap has proved to both the Chinese and the international audience that this is a festival that tries to remove Hong Kong’s “cultural desert” sticker.

The Libertines 4

The Libertines

The road is long. Hong Kong is definitely a freer environment compared to other Asian cities for a big international music festival, with well-rounded infrastructure and money that supports the festival business. But how much of this cultural impact can really filter into ‘ordinary’ people’s lives, the local folk living in a compressed neighbourhood, struggling to pay rent and bills? Among the people to attend this festival, how many are actually from Hong Kong? These are questions to bare in mind.

Clean Bandit 3

Clean Bandit

The reason why I used the word “Insert” in the title of this article is that there is, indeed, a bunch of new era youth who are trying to reintroduce (while at the same time compromising many things) the cultural label in the city, and bringing in abruptly things they see as “correct and fun” in here, hoping the public would understand and participate.

But for now, Elsewhere is very excited about what is happening this weekend at West Kowloon Cultural Park.

Stay tuned.

Text Bohan Qiu
Edited by David Yang

Published on  

———————————————-———————————————-

如何将文化”插入”香港

作为地球上最摩登的城市之一,香港的文化艺术产业却不断的在被批判。当一个极端自由主义经济横行的社会将人们塞进一个个鞋盒和沙丁鱼罐头中,并且不断向他们灌输“要么富要么死”的理念时,我们要如何为艺术和文化找到它们生存的空间?

80年代末期到90年代初期香港经济文化的黄金时代,诞生了不少名门宗师。当王家卫和王家驹的影响力上升到了全亚洲,甚至是全世界的时候,人们在经济宽裕的时代有足够的空间去思考,探讨和前进。但当自由经济走到末路,而阶级上升的空间越发紧缩的时候,香港艺术文化在短短几年间迅速被发展的进程榨干,被商业元素逼迫得走投无路。只能自寻私密的空间苦中作乐。

我不完全认同香港是“文化沙漠”得言论。最起码香港的政治文化,社会文化,保留相对完好的传统文化,甚至是体育文化都一直在相对自由的社会环境下健全发展。就那电影来说,以香港为背景拍摄的电影,绝对不少于纽约、巴黎。

然而,横行霸道的消费文化才是盖过一切其他文化声音的罪魁祸首。即便是王家卫,在90年代寻求拍摄投资的时候,以及平衡艺术价值与商业价值之时,也遭受过社会结构的许多挑战。于是,香港逐渐将娱乐和艺术分开,直到现今已然难以再相遇的境地。

这和去年发生的占领运动十分吻合。当年轻人再也找不到能够呼吸、创作甚至生存的空间时,艺术就变得无比稀有和罕见,而大多数艺术人做艺术的目的也仅仅是为了商业动机儿敷衍了事。

我在香港遇见过很多土生土长的摄影师、画家、插画师、歌手或DJ。而这其中有两种非常明显的人群划分。一种是含着金钥匙出生,从小得以享受艺术熏陶和国际理念,并同时在上流社会有着良好关系的艺术家。他们靠着一同长大的小圈子自娱自乐,活在港岛的山顶与外面的世界相隔绝。而另外一种艺术家,大多来自中至中下层阶级的家庭背景。抱着对艺术虔诚的理想,却往往在金钱和势力面前显得软弱无力,或者实则并无太多深度。两种人大多都一知半懂,总让人感觉背后的动机感极强。也许正是因为在个社会,没有经济价值的艺术文化并不受关注,也没有人愿意关注吧。

连前港大新闻系教授,现代作家和现任中华民国文化部部长龙应台都说过“当一个连文化部都没有的地方,我们怎么能对其文化艺术发展有任何期望呢?”

香港人是理性动物。狮子山精神相信的,就是“只要每个人拥有同等的经济机遇,剩下的全靠你自己的拼搏和奋斗”。试想在这样的社会心态中,文化艺术自然是被排挤在最下层的话题了。这里的人也许认不得三皇五帝,但却都精通炒股炒楼。好的,香港每年有Art Basel, Affordable Art Fair, 有中环奢华的画廊,也有鸭脷洲潜藏在工厂大厦的艺术空间。但这其中有多少是真正为了艺术本身,为了成就永恒的艺术价值而在创作的?这只能算是一个让富人买卖艺术、顺便逃个税的天堂罢了。看看PMQ,还不是成功地被发展商成功地打着创意和本土艺术的旗号,卖卖贵到没天理的一切你不需要的东西的大商场。不知道有没有人真的走过每一个看起来完全一样的旧已婚警察宿舍改造的“精品商店”,这又是一个披着社会主义的资本狼。

这周即将开幕的Clockenflap,的确是试图振奋香港音乐文化的强大力量之一。在城市中间为大家征求一个文化空间,让平时躲在地下小酒吧里自娱自乐的小众文化人们能够“重见天日”。虽然最初Clockenflap给自己贴上了“独立厂牌”的标签,但随着其不断的壮大,也渐渐变得日益多元,并且吸引更多国内外最佳的音乐文化人前来参与。

Clockenflap的多元性实则在全球范围都是罕见的。当新一代嘻哈说唱神童A$AP ROCKY被安排在英伦后朋克电子殿堂级乐队New Order之前演出;抑或是王菲窦唯年仅17岁的女儿窦靖童那毫不费力的中性酷劲和忧郁的波西米亚声线,配上英国当今最重要的朋克摇滚乐队The Libertines的野性甩头,就连绿茶文艺清新婊爱的卢广仲和Damien Rice也来献唱,这个周末还真是好不热闹。不管你是国际学校的00后青少年,还是穿着“I WAS IN MIAMI BITCH”等“文化衫”的白人外籍教师,又或是永远躲在上环地下听着French House不停被法国人问有没有烟的非主流青年(好吧就是我本人),你都能在这里找到一些让你白眼又让你开心的事情。

路漫漫。相比其他亚洲城市,香港的确有他基础设施和地理位置的优势。但是这样的节日到底在什么程度上能真正对文化产业期待影响和推动,而去参加这类文化活动的人又有多少是真正的香港人,我们会继续为你探讨。

本文标题,之所以用到“插入”,正是因为原本看似空虚的文化产业,正在被一帮新时代世界青年试图在妥协中重塑,并将自己认为“正确”的文化活生生地搬过来,祈祷人们的理解和参与。

但现在,Elsewhere对这周末在西九龙文化公园即将发生的事感到十分期待。

敬请留意。

Bohan Qiu 的文字

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s