Exerpts from an exklusive interview with the curator of the exhibition "Hong Kong, etc.", which took place on July 5th 1997 (that means, still during the preparation phase of the Biennale).
In a way the concept of the exhibition "Hong Kong, etc" is quite
simple. It has to do with the fact that today, all kind of events - whether
it be the power-transfer in Hong Kong, the fall of the Berlin Wall, or Tianamen
Square - become spectacular media events, but which seldom retain public attention
for more than fifteen minutes. All of these events have a long history preceding
them, and a long future ahead of them. Hong Kong is one of these events which
represents a very important transition in our time. Even though the transfer
of power happened five months ago, it is an event that should be reconsidered
and brought into discussion again. Of course, I consider the transition of
Hong Kong as a process of decolonization, but on the other hand, it is also
a result of current globalization. The event itself offers a lot of possibilities
to think about these two closely linked aspects, as well as the neocolonization
which is happening now. This is, stated in simplified form, like negotiations
between old and new powers.
At the same time, in terms of culture in visual arts, this process generates
a lot of new models and allows for new spaces for creative activity, especially
in relation to a restructuring of the urban space (for which Hong Kong is a
typical example). I think Johannesburg has a similar past to Hong Kong and
a similar future, because in this new South Africa, people want to reconstruct
a whole society. There is a similar desire regarding cultural and artistic
activities, and there are similar projects to redesign the urban environment.
There exists, therefore, a relevance between these two places, two situations,
two ends of the road. Again, this is not only a kind of regional event, but
is part of a globalizing process which doesn´t exclude Western roots.
Therefore, there will be coverage of nearly all continents in the exhibition.
When we talk about Hong Kong, and when we talk about globalization, there is a
new technology which plays an important role. It is not only a force which
accelerates the globalizing process, but is also a new language being created
through the new technology. This new language can probably open up a lot
of discussions, but we should view it critically. In the meantime, I do think
this new technology, the internet for example, changes our way of communication.
This is why I want to include web sites in our project, as kind of virtual
space in which people can use their imagination in a much, so to speak , "freer" way.
But it is also important to keep one foot on the ground. The exhibition will
have a second installation section in a gallery, as well as a sort-of video
network in the city. The goal is to build a kind of bridge between the real
and the virtual, so that people can perceive two aspects of the whole thing.
In fact the scale is very small and at the same time very big. In the gallery
space we are going to have ten or eleven artists working very closely to one
another. The idea is to rebuild a city, a tiny Hong Kong, in which the aspect
of density is very important. On the other hand, by using web sites, there
exists a kind of infinitive space.
Mostly there will be new projects. I want to emphasize, too, that it will
not only be artists, but also architects, urbanists, writers, and culture theorists
who are involved especially for the web sites, and who will be contributing
on an ongoing basis. There will also be a debate space for discussion groups,
in which a general audience can participate.