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City Weekend

Art and design festival Detour 2017 aims to bring ‘Harmonious Chaos’ to Hong Kong

Curator hopes visitors experience messy, liberating chaos of artist’s creative process that eventually results in beautiful product

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 November, 2017, 3:33pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 November, 2017, 10:37am

Hong Kong’s annual government-funded art and design extravaganza, Detour 2017, will return to PMQ in Central for 10 days in December, offering free public exhibitions, workshops and talks aimed at showcasing the best of the city’s creative scene alongside international artists.

The sheer variety of what’s on offer – ranging from art and design installations to architecture, crafts and film – is precisely what makes Detour unique for a festival of its scale and size, according to seasoned curator Shin Wong.

The festival’s competitive selection process was further enhanced by the introduction of open call submissions last year, allowing newcomers to make their mark on the festival’s huge platform.

“We got to see a lot more interesting ideas from emerging artists we’ve never met,” Wong said. “Above all, we want to provide equal opportunities for people in the creative industry – originality is what we’re looking for.”

Detour’s chosen theme this year is “Harmonious Chaos”, which Wong hoped would allow visitors to experience the messy, liberating chaos of the artist’s creative process that eventually results in a beautiful product.

The festival is a mainstay of the city’s cultural calendar since many installations are highly interactive and accessible to the public.

Highlights recommended by Wong included a giant hanging LED wall installation by design collective Bloom that responds to movement, Pauline Yau’s immersive paper seed pod sculptures, and Keith Lam’s immersive audiovisual piece that reflects the movement of the planets.

“We’re hoping that these works, workshops and creative dialogues will massively inspire Hongkongers, perhaps letting them join us and offer their ideas in future,” Wong said.

Architecture and design group Bloom were chosen to create Detour 2017’s stand-out piece – Confluence, the giant tent-like sculpture will act as a gateway to the festival as well as a major talking point for audiences, creating a “wow” moment, according to designer Ben Gough.

As for the inspiration behind its enigmatic name, Gough relates it back to the festival’s theme of “Harmonious Chaos”.

“We talked about bringing two disparate things together to make one harmonious whole, creating something larger than the sum of its parts,” Gough said.

Fellow spatial designer Richard Wood emphasised that interactivity was important to Bloom.

“It really helps people engage with our work, which is sometimes difficult with art,” Wood said. Gough adds that they aim to lure busy Hongkongers away from their phone screens and encourage them to interact with real-life spaces with the help of technology.

Above all, the UK-born designers are inspired by Hong Kong as a highly dynamic and cosmopolitan city.

“Space is a big challenge, but the way we can use it is a lot freer in Hong Kong than in the UK,” Wood said. “It’s somehow liberating, because you have to constantly reinvent ways of doing things.”

“When you don’t have space, you go vertical,” Gough said. “The festival site is large for Hong Kong but gets easily congested with visitors, so that’s the only way. That’s one of the good connections between our sculpture and the city around it.”

Gough and Wood are grateful to Detour 2017 for giving their work such a big platform and hope their sculpture can bring creative dialogues between artists and the public.

“What we’re trying to highlight is that people have a connection to their city,” Wood said. “If everything’s not too commercialised, then you feel like you can be a part of the city. It’s your city, so it has to work for you.”

Detour 2017 will take place between December 1 to 10 at PMQ in Sheung Wan, with an opening ceremony on November 30.