Yau Ma Tei assumed a new identity yesterday, hosting the works of seven artists under the West Kowloon Cultural District as the city waits to see who will be its first culture minister.
Six artworks were displayed in Portland and Shanghai streets in the old district in an exhibition titled Mobile M+, which kicks off a mad week of art fairs, exhibition launches and auctions riding on the opening of the Hong Kong International Art Fair (Art HK) to the public on Thursday.
Yau Ma Tei was an area that Lars Nittve, executive director of the M+ museum of 20th and 21st century visual culture in the West Kowloon project, described as a neighbour of the arts hub. Participating artists said they were glad to see the hub authorities making an effort to bring art closer to the public.
Pak Sheung-chuen, who leads one of the projects, L, said the Mobile M+ series was a good idea before the M+ museum itself was ready.
'We are all exploring the possibilities between a museum and the community, and for this art project we have to work with ordinary residents,' said Pak, whose project examines issues of trust and faith.
Hong Kong-based Finnish artist Erkka Nissinen said: 'To foreigners, Yau Ma Tei is a very exotic and beautiful district, and having the first Mobile M+ there is a nice idea.' His installation, Silopolis, takes place in a shop in Shanghai Street.
Nittve said the establishment of a culture bureau was a 'splendid idea' and should facilitate arts and culture development in the city. However, he expressed concern that the city was an 'unusually regulated' place.
It was understood that the curatorial team had spent a great deal of time when applying for licences for exhibition venues from various departments instead of one centralised agency. The costs of setting up the Yau Ma Tei exhibition were not disclosed. The pop-up exhibition is at six locations - an empty office, street-level shops, a park and a marquee set up under a bridge.
Kwan Sheung-chi and Wong Wai-yin teamed up for their conceptual work To Defend The Core Values Is The Core of The Core Values. They created a 24-carat 6.4 ounce gold coin engraved with 'Hong Kong Core Values' and 'Millions For Freedom, Not One Cent for Slavery' on both sides. They want the public to vote on the fate of the coin, as a critique of worries about increasing corruption of Hong Kong's core values.
Visitors can vote from May 15 to May 30 at a Portland Street shop. The organisers will select a voter who will go on a boat trip in Victoria Harbour on June 4. Mobile M+: Yau Ma Tei is free and runs until June 10.