Seen&Scene: A SPRING Evening With Qiu Zhijie

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Last Saturday brought a balmy and drizzly Spring evening to Hong Kong, but at the Wong Chuk Hang Industrial District, it was all smiles and pleasant conversations as the arts community rallied around Spring Workshop’s latest artist-in-residence, Qiu Zhijie, one of the mainland’s most celebrated artist and thinkers of his generation.

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Inspired by Spring Workshops’ delightfully expansive and flexible space, Qiu began making full use of the large areas of of wall and floor for a very specific mapping exercise which only can be accomplished in such a site.

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The neutralness of the walls and the beige floors allowed Qiu to think of them as a blank canvas, a datum in which ready-made objects, “found, made, free, and confined”, can be categorized and mapped, with a help of students from all of Hong Kong’s schools and universities, namely the University of Hong Kong, City University, Baptist University, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Arts School, HKICC/Jockey Club Ti-ICollege, Diocesan Girls’ School, Hong Kong Academy and Po Leung Kuk Laws Foundation College.

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And when we went there last Saturday… he was close to completion…

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But more was left to do. The exhibit officially starts on May 23rd.

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Also a work in progress, but in a completely different scale, is the work of Eric Shuldenfrei and Marisa Yiu of Eskyiu in the back garden area, titled, Industrial Forest

Below, Marisa sits within her work as she takes photos of me taking photos of the landscape. Behind her stands Laurent Gutierrez of map office, another celebrated mult-disciplinary architectural studio doing great work in / for the city.

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The Industrial Forest is a forest composed of metal “bamboo” rods securely placed on artificial topography. This synthetic nature comes alive, the rods swaying back and forth, with the affect of use and natural weather conditions. Imagine a typhoon!

You can find the scale model of the project in the office.

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… As well as the architectural drawings.

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So many friends and supporters were there that night to rally around the artists as well as founder, Mimi Brown's non-profit arts initiative. Also spotted were Art Basel Hong Kong's Director Asia, Magnus Renfrew (Check out our interview with him last year), art patron and writer Alex Seno, restauranteur and creative Alan Lo, art muse Xue Tan, Art Basel Hong Kong’s VIP coordinator Deborah Erlich, creative consultant Louise Wong, write and curator Christina Li, artist/educator Leung Chi Wo, and my pals Katrina, Jason S, Jason R, and Susan.

Dinner was served on the beautiful lawn and deck area outside.

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There’s a map on the table…

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Balls on the floor can be kicked around to create new word structures, concepts, ideas… the purpose of which to create a more dynamic version of mapping which involves the user and the space, via the propositions of the artist.

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Can’t wait to see more from Spring Workshop? Go take a look for yourself. The doors are now open.

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VISIT Qiu Zhijie and Eskiyiu’s Industrial Forest @ Spring Workshop, 3F Remix Centre, 42 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, HK

JJ.

Light My Fire

Maybe it’s because i’ve just been too busy, or maybe it’s just that i’m so in love with my new neighborhood, Tai Hang, and just wanted to spend more time at “home”, but in this the seventh year of living in Hong Kong, i’ve for once decided to make a “staycation” of the four day celebration that was the annual 2012 Mid-Autumn and Chinese National Day festivities which was just last weekend. And I’m REALLY glad I made this decision to stay in town.

In the last few years all I’ve ever wanted to do was leave the city, never realizing that year after year, i’ve missed out on the amazing celebrations and general bonvivant attitude in the air as the whether gets a bit cooler and everyone prepares to celebrate viewing lanterns and fire-dances in Victoria Park and surrounding neighborhoods.

To those foreign to Chinese Culture, Mid-Autumn is a fall harvest celebration which falls on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese Calendar, which in our calendar is around September and October. All four days that Hong Kong is on holiday is usually marked by clear weather, blue skies, and a full moon, and everyone is out and about visiting family and friends and going shopping. Its literally, the Chinese version of a Long Thanksgiving Weekend.

Last year’s giant bamboo lantern was fish a designed by William Lim of CL3, this year however, a design competition made winners out of young architects, Kristof Crolla and Adam Fingrut, whose Golden Moon concept wowed judges, and of course visitors, including myself, last weekend. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the overall lantern stood at about 18 meters hight and 21 meters wide, and supported lightly by a steel dome, with a layer of bamboo and material giving shape and skin to the “moon” which looks a bit like a fruit as well. Parametric design methods were used to create such a unique shape which to the architects made “the visitor feel as they stumbled into a different world”.

I loved it. I felt the design was magnificent, straight forward, and the execution as good as could be for a temporary structure made of bamboo, floating on water, and constructed in 11 days.

As an additional treat, my new neighborhood played host to the 113th Annual 3-Day Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance, which according to Wikipedia began the year 1880 when Tai Hang was only a little Hakka Fishing Village. The only years when the dance didn’t happen was during Japanese occupation, but generally residents performed the dance of a 67meter long dragon made up of incense sticks the same way since its inception.

The sounds of beating drums would usher the arrival of playful dragon which performed for visitors and audience in and around Tai Hang’s streets for three nights.

The first evening was the most wonderful. All of Tai Hang’s residents really celebrated on every street corner with a full banquet complete with roast pigs. Some residents even paraded their own lanterns with their children.

On the first night of the fire dance, Arthur, fashion editor at Time Out Hong Kong, and Asia Art Archive’s Natasha came to check out the dragon with me.

On the second night, our party increased to a whole crew! L-R, Katrina from Disney, Ron of RONWANDesign, Jade from Cotton On, Myself, and David.

With Jason busy taking photographs of the whole scene… his first 2012 Mid Autumn.

Everyone had a giant dog to show off.

Lab Made, Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream was the dessert of choice to have that weekend. Most importantly the traditional Moon Cake Flavaour and Purple Rice Flavour, mixed and made on the spot as you order.

Wish me luck, fish.

ARCHITECTURE Laboratory for Explorative Architecture & Design / EAT Lab Made Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream 

I’d also like to take a moment to give my condolences to the 39 victims and their families of the Ferry Tragedy on Monday night  on the 3rd day of the long 4 day weekend. The cause of the accident was a collision of boats, which happened moments before the Fireworks celebrating National Day on Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour. Read this poignant article  for TIME, reflecting on the disaster by fellow Hong Konger, Liam Fitzpatrick.

JJ.