Art Container, 2008 – Beautiful Journey, Beautiful World

Art Exhibition

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Venue Design for “Beautiful Journey.Beautiful World”
The idea of utilizing containers as a medium of exhibition is not new in the world, but when it is put in the urban context of the West Kowloon reclamation site, another layer of meaning emerges. In Hong Kong, it is not hard to identify pieces of vacant land scattered around the territory. Some of them are reclaimed lands for new urban revival while some others are temporarily left empty after a demolition of the buildings previously there, waiting for their respective golden moments for redevelopment. These pieces of emptiness become the voids of our city fabrics, a discontinuity of human interaction. West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD), a reclaimed land originally planned by the government to build a state-of-art cultural and commercial development, was being under review for reaching a consensus of views among the politicians, estate developers, art organisations and artists, art lovers, scholars, the media, and the general public. Up to this moment of writing (March 2008), the future direction of art or culture-related infrastructure on this site is yet to be clear. Though still vacant, the site possesses a physical presence that you can choose to acknowledge it, or to ignore it, but it exists nevertheless.

The working team has made a clear determination to pursue the WKCD site at the very beginning of this project, and therefore, given us a chance to ponder the double-fold meanings of this exhibition project. Firstly, using containers to export our local art works to overseas is an interesting activity in that the journey of each container is different from the other. It is totally contrasting to the attitude of importing foreign art works to the territory. “Beautiful Journey, Beautiful World” depicts the exploratory yet unknown journey, and perhaps it is this not-yet-know situation makes our lives exciting and beautiful. Secondly, our cultural context in West Kowloon is also exploring its journey. It is still not clear to us to where it would go. As an architect, I would like to share with you a few words from the master architect, Louis Kahn. Kahn once tried to write about Order in architecture. Finally, he simply wrote, “Order is.” Having been stimulated, when I think about the planning design for this container exhibition, I would rather develop the concept by rethinking the title as “Beautiful Journey is.” It implies an opening end with numerous possibilities, awaiting us to explore.

The site roughly measures 400m in length times 85m in width. It is a big site that gives us an opportunity to do more than an ordinary exhibition venue for visitors to stroll around. Referring to the curatorial statement by Stella FONG, she has carefully put the art works into five categories. Apart from purely planning the containers into different categories on the ground level, I take the chance to arrange them as two big Chinese words when viewed from the air, and have them written on the canvas site. The Chinese words 何去 means “where to go?” It is meant to be a question for both the art containers and the fate of the West Kowloon site.

At the site, I can see the metropolitan view in the distance over the harbour, the super high rise commercial building in front of me over the station square, and the desert land I am standing on. It is quite a mirage scenery. As a response to this city mirage, on a closer scale, some of the containers are planned to frame certain views such as the yellow ventilation building, the blue sky, the distant metropolitan scene, or the rows of potted trees, reminding the visitors what are going on around them.

After all, this planning design is meant to be a departure point for the subsequent journey to begin. What do we have now? What will we have next? It all depends on how we plan our journey, and where we will go to.

Kenneth TSE
Venue Architect, “Beautiful Journey.Beautiful World”

美麗旅程.美麗世界”場地設計概念
利用貨櫃作為展覽媒體不是一個全新的意念,但當我們把貨櫃放在西九龍填海區這個城市環境中,另一重意義便呈現出來。在香港,空置的土地分布在城中各處,要找到它們並不困難。有些空置土地是填海得來的,用作建設新區,另一些則是在樓房拆卸後暫時空置,等候重新發展的適當時機。如果我城是一幅布帛,這些空地就像是一些掏空了的洞,一些已切斷的人際互動。西九龍文化區是一幅填海地,政府原先計劃在這地上興建最前衛的文化和商業建築,但因為政客、發展商、藝術團體和藝術家、藝術愛好者、學者、傳媒、公眾仍在尋求共識意見,計劃便得暫緩下來。這塊土地上有關藝術和文化的基建,其未來方向仍有待確定。雖然空置,這個場地卻是存在的實體,不管我們確認它或是否定它,它還是繼續存在。

在藝術貨櫃計劃開始時,工作小組便決意向有關當局申請使用西九龍文化區作為展場;這也給了我們一個機會,去細想整個展覽計劃的雙重意義。第一,利用貨櫃把香港的藝術作品出口到外地去,本身就是一項有趣的活動,有趣之處在於每個貨櫃開展的旅程都不盡相同;這與把外國藝術進口到香港的看法剛好相反。“美麗旅程.美麗世界”描畫了這未知的探索之旅,也許正是這種期待未知的處境,使生活美麗而又叫人興奮。第二,我們的西九文化議題也是在探索的旅途上,它會往何處去,我們還是不能確定。既以建築師為業,我想跟大家分享建築大師Louis Kahn的一句話。有一次,Kahn打算撰文談論建築裏的秩序(Order);最後,他只寫下了:“秩序是。”(“Order is.”)受他的啟發,我在替藝術貨櫃展覽構思場地設計時,曾想以“美麗旅程是。”來重新思考主題,並以此發展相關概念。它預示了一個沒有既定結局的情況,同時有眾多可能等待我們去發掘。

今次的展場約400米長,85米濶,是一個很大的場地;與一般展覽場地相比,我們可以做的便不止於讓觀眾逛着看。讀過策展人方詠甄的策展概念,她很仔細地把藝術貨櫃作品以五個主題分組。除了在地面上把貨櫃分放不同區域,我也試着令它們的組合在高空俯瞰時會組成兩個中文字,就像把字寫在場地上一樣。兩個中文字是“何去”,意指“往哪裏去?”這是向藝術貨櫃,也是向西九場地的將來提出的問題。

站在展場上,我可以看見海港另一邊的都會景色,在我的前方車站上蓋的高聳商業大廈,還有我腳下仍未發展的土地。這是一個頗像海市蜃樓的風景。從更細微的角度去回應這片城市的海市蜃樓,我計劃用一些貨櫃為部分景色加上圍框,例如那黃色的通風建築、藍色的天空、遠岸的都會風景,或是排列成行的盆栽樹木,藉此提醒觀眾他們身邊正在發生的一切。

無論如何,這個場地設計為將要開始的旅程來說是一個出發點。我們現在有的是甚麼?將來又會得到甚麼?這一切,視乎我們怎樣計劃我們的旅程,視乎我們要往何處去。

“美麗旅程.美麗世界”場地建築師

謝錦榮

(中文翻譯:陳慧思)

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