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Hidden cityscape unveiled

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“CUT & SEA” exhibition offers new perspective on city’s urban landscape

Installation art at Oi!(Oil Street Art Space) brings audience on a journey through space and time.

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 January, 2018, 12:04am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 January, 2018, 12:03am

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The "CUT & SEA" exhibition currently held at Oi! showcases an installation artwork made of lawn and fence to reveal the hidden characteristics of the city, allowing visitors to learn about the relationships among humans, nature and the city. 

Created by artist Tobias Klein,"CUT & SEA" opens up a 2.5-metre circular cut on the lawn of Oi! and another on the fence that separates Oi! and the neighbouring construction site. Both can be opened or closed by visitors themselves, revealing things and presenting different scenarios that give thoughts to the historic and environmental elements of Oi! and the community.

An architect by training, Klein taught at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, London and is currently an assistant professor at the School of Creative Media of the City University of Hong Kong.

A hundred years ago, the site of Oi!, sandwiched between the sea and the mountains, was for recreational use. Today, it has been transformed into an art and cultural hub. In this urban space, the mountains and sea are no longer immediately adjacent. The city landscape is constantly changing.

With this in mind, Klein created “CUT & SEA” that playfully reveals the historical and environmental characteristics and the making of the city. Two giant discs, one vertical and one horizontal, can be closed and opened by the viewer and thus be seen in four constellations. The opening of the ground soil and wall fence reveals hidden history and human activities that together give this community its unique identity.

According to Ivy Lin, the Curator (Community Art) of the Art Promotion Office, Oi! serves as a community art space that brings art to everyday life. The green lawn, which has hosted many exhibitions in the past, is also meant to be a place for relaxation amidst the concrete jungle.

She said: “At Oi! we want to exhibit works that bring attention to issues and pique people’s imagination for this space, and Tobias is an excellent fit since he specialises in works that explore the relationship between space and people.”

There are two layers to the installation–the vertical and horizontal–referring to the big steel disc on a fence and another on the lawn. Both discs are exactly the same size and can be easily moved back and forth. The one on the ground documents the soil, the earth. The other, depending on when, where and how you look, shows people, fragments of buildings, a rest meadow, a moment of sky, a slice of heaven.

Klein said: “The vertical gives you the feeling that you are watching a 24-hour live movie because you are watching how the construction site works. But in contrast to that, the horizontal moves a bit but not too much. You can predict what you can find. It is an engineered ground that is also static. It is one of few places in Hong Kong where you can enjoy a moment of calmness in nature with large trees and roots.”

“So I thought maybe it was not good to disturb this calmness too much. So we dug a hole to see what was there. Now you have to decide for yourself whether you are disappointed, or find it interesting, whether it is worth the effort to open it up, and whether to stay for longer. In essence, one of the things here is to stand as a human between the horizontal ground and the vertical wall and make decisions on how to open, what to see and what to expect. This should open up a lot of information.”

“In a way, it’s like opening a window or door to an old closet at home. It connects you to your neighbours and reveals forgotten history. This is how we hope to make art blend into life,” noted Lin.

Presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and organised by Oi!, the exhibition is now open to the general public until April 22, 2018. For more details, please visit www.facebook.com/CUTandSEA or call (852) 2512 3000.

Oi! is located at 12 Oil Street, North Point.