Mobile exhibition to hit the road

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 April, 2012, 12:00am


An exhibition featuring six items of installation art will be staged next month throughout Yau Ma Tei by the West Kowloon Cultural District's M+ Museum's curators - with rigid rules on Hong Kong's land use being overcome in the process.

It will be the first of a series of mobile exhibitions organised by the curators until the museum proper opens in about 2017. The Mobile M+: Yau Ma Tei exhibition will be a 'story of Hong Kong culture', featuring different art forms by Hong Kong artists at venues as varied as shops, offices and even beneath flyovers.

'The exhibition will merge art with everyday life,' said Stella Fong Wing-yan, one of the seven curators. 'Most people who pass by may not be aware that it is an art exhibition, and may be surprised when they find out.'

Five of the six pieces of art were commissioned for the exhibition. Searching for venues was part of the process in creating the art pieces, which include digital installations, performance and publications.

Lars Nittve, the museum's executive director, said mobile art exhibitions had been part of cultural life in Europe for decades but were seldom seen in Hong Kong.

'It's very different to curating in a defined art space. Here, you're in other people's domain, which makes it very interesting,' he said. 'You can't intrude, and have to respect the neighbourhood.'

A big difference Nittve found in staging mobile exhibitions here, compared with Europe, was Hong Kong's land use regulations. Places defined as shops or flats were not permitted to stage exhibitions, which were defined as entertainment, he said.

The initial idea was to stage the exhibition in a historical residential building in Jordan. But, land use regulations forced them to look for venues elsewhere, which resulted in the idea of scattered venues within a 15-minute walk of each other. The project was given a HK$3 million budget and will run from May 15 to June 10 - with an information centre on Portland Street - during the Hong Kong International Art Fair.

Yau Ma Tei was chosen for the exhibition, the curators said, because the district exudes a strong sense of Hong Kong identity, as well as being near the museum's future location in the West Kowloon arts hub.

'It's important to make a museum feel that it actually belongs to the area,' Nittve said. 'We're trying to put down these roots here.'

The museum would start acquiring artwork for its collection in late summer or autumn, Nittve said. It may decide to buy some pieces from this exhibition and may accept donations of works from the Bamboo Theatre exhibition held in January.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government yesterday signed a letter of intent with its Guangdong and Macau counterparts on the future promotion of Cantonese opera.

The three governments also pledged to share more library and museum resources at the 13th Greater Pearl River Delta Cultural Co-operation Meeting.

'Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau are capable of, and responsible for, building themselves as [China's] most culturally competent region,' said Ministry of Culture official Hou Xianghua, who oversees Hong Kong matters.

Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing attended the meeting but refused to comment on whether he would be part of the cabinet of incoming chief executive Leung Chun-ying.