思舊賦 《「上海街視藝空間」之前世今生》何國標



要回顧今年位於上海街404號上海街視藝空間的前塵往事,不得不提五十一年前的一場大火,讀者或許摸不着頭腦,的確,這場火改變了上海街392至404號後來的命運。


話說1958年10月30日(星期四),起火地點為上海街400號地下,前舖是裕生鞋店,東主鄧寧,後舖設有製鞋工場,由另一老闆殷錦經營。當天下午5時左右,鞋店內製鞋工場工人以電油混合樹膠加熱,用土法煮膠,不知如何,電油突告燃着,其他工人見狀,以毛氈欲將火勢撲熄,但電油沾滿毛氈,助長火勢,瞬息間舖面火光熊熊,更波及隔鄰389號兆興文具店及402號瑞昌蔴雀館。當時正值吹乾燥北風,火燄繼續向南吞噬396號生隆泰香料紙號、394號馮百昌中和堂藥店及392號順利銅鐵店。樓上住客被火燄圍困,無法逃出,被迫走出騎樓,跳下街中,尚幸這列全是三層高木樓,加上消防員早張開帆布救生網,終把災民一一接住救出。不及半小時,已燒至通頂的394至402號五幢木樓,隆然一聲,全部塌下,碎石橫飛,消防員紛紛走避。一頭一尾的404號保齡堂熟藥店因處逆風,和392號順利銅鐵店同樣飽受水漬,卻未焚毀。至晚上11時,整場沖天大火始告完全撲熄。油蔴地街坊福利會各理事長在砵蘭街便以利會教堂辦理災民臨時登記,派發食物充飢,並將部分災民安排到彌敦道救世軍中央堂暫時收容。這場大火損失估計約50萬元,但無嚴重人命傷亡,算是不幸中之大幸。

保和堂歷史逾85年

浩劫後的394至402號現場頓變頹垣敗瓦。1959年,這片如廢址般的地段重建,404及392號兩幢木樓雖未波及,亦一併拆卸,於1961年建成今天六層高的新樓宇。404號地下是保和堂熟藥店、402號是三陽南貨店、400號是李金蘭茶庄、398和396號是協大祥百貨、394號是美華理髮廳,至於392號,依舊是木樓時期的順利銅鐵店,七間地舖當中,只有保和堂和順利銅鐵是自置物業。1964年,400號李金蘭地舖易手,轉為人和悅酒庄,402號三陽南貨轉營為三陽茶餐廳,394號美華理髮廳亦改名為漢宮理髮廳。

論歷史悠久,以保和堂和順利銅鐵為最,如果不是結業,有超過八十五年歷史。1920年代,保和堂本位於上海街近熙龍里,1930年代遷往得如茶樓斜對面,創辦人是陳榮瑞,1961年購入上海街404號自用。順利銅鐵於1920年代已在上海街392號原址經營,創辦人是游壽。李金蘭茶庄早於1940年代店址位於上海街近窩打老道口,因拆樓才於1961年遷至上海街400號,短短經營四年,便由老牌酒庄人和悅接手。

1999年闢作視藝空間

人和悅分店遍布港九,如軒尼斯道、永樂街、上海街、南昌街、大埔道和蕪湖街,以鼓味人和酒最馳名,筆者對它當年一則廣告甚有印象:「今朝有酒今朝醉,得風流處且風流,萬事不如杯在手,有人和悅冇人愁。」將「人和悅」三字嵌入打油詩,令人會心微笑。至於前身為三陽南貨的三陽茶餐廳,兩店的東主同是陳時高先生,筆者與他熟稔,無所不談,他對國共歷史更如數家珍,待客如賓而面面俱圓,做生意確實有一手。

1980年代,除了392號外,其餘六幢樓宇,政府決定不予補地價,明明是自置物業的404號保和堂,變成要交租給政府,這項突如其來的政策,對一所百年老店確是一記沉重打擊。400號人和悅酒庄亦於後期購入自用,同樣變成租客。1990年代,政府向這六間地舖大幅加租金,竟達數萬元之巨,三間老店協太祥、人和悅、保和堂先後結業。2002年8月某個清晨,筆者如常往三陽茶餐廳吃早餐,看見鐵閘貼上「內部裝修」啟示,恍然大悟,原來連三陽也黯然結業了。今天,只餘394號漢宮理髮廳獨自苦撑了四十五年,勇氣可嘉,這幾年眼見理髮生意每況愈下,欲向府府提出減租,政府不肯,漢宮東主唯有把店內閣樓部分交還給政府,以減輕租金皮費,雖然做生意的地方少了,總好過關門大吉。

1999年香港藝術發展局把404號保和堂原址闢作上海街視藝空間,以一個象徵式的超值價錢租予一些非牟利文化團體,定期舉辦展覽活動。而400號人和悅酒庄原址於1990年代改作香港聖樂團,起初筆者還以為香港聖樂團會在上址演奏美妙樂章,以饗街坊知音人,殊不知竟是終年關閉,荒廢政府產業,相比下,上海街視藝空間還有半點人氣。最近,得悉402號三陽茶餐廳原址亦將會有新的團體進駐,希望他們另有一番作為。政府當年瘋狂加租,把經營了數十載的老字號逼入死角,帶頭做了壞先例,今天的領匯,不過東施效顰。最終以賤價出讓給文化團體,做法本末倒置,為何不讓老字號一條可行的生路呢?

老店人情味濃厚

11月8日,首次踏足上海街視藝空間,參加一個名為「大俠與流行曲」的分享會,舊地重遊,百感交集。這所前身為保和堂熟藥店的老地方,確帶來筆者不少回憶,當年一列百子櫃,正是今天擺放珍藏品的位置,筆者坐在的一角,竟是昔日駐診藥店謝仲光中醫師為病人望、聞、問、切的墮落。依稀可辨的肥胖東主,笑容可掬,執了一帖苦口良藥,例必奉上嘉應子數包,那份濃厚的老店人情味,令筆者永誌不忘。當天分享會中,耳畔忽響起鄭少秋一闋「愛人結婚了」:「啊……一切難料,雖有舊情未忘……癡心往事不要想了!」筆者對歌詞另有體會:原本是自置的店舖,卻變了政府物業,最後結業以終,真是「一切難料」啊!

從10月24日開始,上海街視藝空間被改裝為活化廳,有一項活動叫「多多獎小小賞」,藉以表揚一些區內有特色的店舖,獲獎名單中不乏一些超逾六十年歷史的老字號,如:大德五金、萬祥銀器、真珍鏡器、炳記銅器、安昌汽燈及雙光電器。戰前,萬祥銀器、安昌汽燈均在介乎窩打老道與碧街的一段新填地街。

其實,回首今昔上海街,只剩下八間逾八十年歷史的老店至今仍在默默耕耘【表】。

雙光電器的店址百年不變,甚難得!當年它有一間姊妹店叫雙月電器,在上海街位元堂對面,惜已結業多年。安利銅鐵和廣生紙號因後人分支,分別易名為安利浩記銅鐵和廣生燊記紙號。「創業難,守業更難」,在昂貴租金打擊下而能克紹箕裘,守住百年祖業,那份耐力、韌力、魄力、毅力,談何容易。一塊封塵的金漆招牌,見證上海街如煙興衰。夕陽殘照下,掩映着老東主、老伙記及一班熟客的賓主情,惠顧發客,商譽交情,長流細水,是今天連鎖店身上找不着的。謹向老字號每代相傳薪火,衷心致敬!

少少人 多多事 –回應「活化廳」開幕展


IMG_2116
十月廿三日下午,上海街404號,塵土翻飛,寫有「活化廳」三個醒目大字的花牌,半空而立,大有重現舊時商鋪開張之架勢,玩味十足。新店商標是一張大沙發,內有免費wifi及康樂設備,實在耐人尋味。因為高度自治,我沒有逐一問過其他十位成員,而這個「活化廳」,對我而言是一個以空間打空間的平台,在建制下(藝發局資助的藝術空間)提問建制,也借此來開闢、實驗更富想像力、更有對話可能的藝術空間。藝術除了被()認為可以活化社區經濟外,可有別途社區藝術經常被垢病為空降,可有小徑而社區價值除了用地價、租價衡量,可有什麼一談的? 
「活化廳」頭炮是個奇怪的展覽,名為「多多獎,小小賞」,策展人為程展緯及李俊峰。二人先從被殺的小學取得大量殘餘的獎項,以此循環再用,作為委約的青年藝術家及藝術學生的原材料,並要求他們閒游上海街大店小鋪,發掘當中有趣價值,並以改良過的獎牌表揚。
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不是什麼把藝術帶到社區的高恣態或虛妄,年輕人的確「空降」,未必認識上海街,但過程有趣而雙向,提名和得獎,生產對話,主體是動輒經營了三、四十年的老鋪,而不是藝術家。藝術家必先進入社區,要有看法,有感覺,才可以把表揚的價值物質化,並經過美學的處理,更富象徵意義,或更具象地呈現他們的對上海街的發現及欣賞。這教我想起丹麥的藝術家Lars Bang Larsen 99年提出的「社會美感」(Social Aesthetics)的概念,就是藝術家構造的空間,社會性及美感雙線行車,缺一不可。 
收筆前,大概已送出三十多個獎項,以後每個周日都有導賞團,獎項相信陸續有來。而我作為觀察者,粗疏地把獎項連結社會脈絡,有以下發現:
 重視手藝 欣賞專注
 今天上海街一帶,仍有小型工場,好幾位年輕人表揚老鋪的原因,都用上這些字眼「展示和守候」(馮畫師)、「寧靜的感覺,商品安靜含蓄地閃爍」(安昌汽燈)、「伯伯開檔六十年,有氣有力,敬業樂業」(516 五金車仔檔)、「陸生可以隨時退休,卻仍然工作」(炳記銅器),「胡生發明了一個工具,為自己制作招牌」(金興招牌,「問老闆什麼都識,貨品齊全,而且工作之餘,好開心」(新利豐膠轆,甚或因為古玩老闆,寫字畫畫了得外,更會投稿論政,很有人文風骨,深表贊賞(中西古玩。有趣是,被表揚的正正是傳統「手藝師傅」的工作倫理,借用Richard Sennett 對 Craftsman 的解釋,就是有慾望把自己的工作做到最好的人。這種對工作的專注默守、不斷改進、以此為榮並建立自我身份,以一件是一件點滴累積的實體勞動,能再次被年輕人欣賞,只是好。在新經濟主導的當下,不是金融就是地產,活化社區,可會包括活化對工作的熱誠,對工作的掌握相信能掌握自己生活的人,才會拒絕翻滾,寧靜而居。
 發現地方 空間爭霸
wooferten_opening_241009 004

藝術家雖然空降,卻感敏,很喜歡勞麗麗那個作品,最活現上海街空間特色及爭霸,她表揚的是「油尖旺貼 poster 黨」,原因是「最 update的「色聲藝」資訊,平面廣告以打遊擊、一瞬即逝姿態寄生彌敦道,成為油麻地多元化宣傳區」,她不是空談,而是真的跟「兄弟」聊過,知道行情,也寫了封表揚信。此外,有伯伯在449451之間一條罅開檔,也成為表揚的對象。這都顯現了上海街的靈活,使用者如何策略地回應寸寸金的空間。
社區關係 開心要緊 
很多提名者都因為美麗的笑容,可親的招待,歡快的氣氛而被表揚,舊區的人情味,似乎不是神話,而「今時今日的服務態度」大可摺起,只要妳肯花時間,跟各位大姐大哥熟稔一些,隨便在店內站一站,天南地北,無所不談(如永隆繡莊、遂興茶餐廳、超英香燭、新利五金)。上周日遇上蛇王寶老闆,興頭來了,他就在人來人往的街上,即席示範氣功。而廣東道蔬菜水果檔佳姐,正是單身無飯氣的麻甩仔的飲食救星。當然,不少上海街老鋪都已活了幾十年,幾代同堂的故事,不但有情有味,也側面看到香港各行各業的變異及變化因由,上海街的興衰也是香港未完的故事。
這個擬似美感不足,創作人空降的比賽,有趣的不在獎項本身,而是遊戲的設計,可以讓創作人走入社區,開創獨特的雙向空間,讓自己成為空間裡有趣的一部份。
刊於星期日明報 2009年11月8日

「活化廳」 進駐上海街視藝空間 2009-2010 全年工作報告

http://www.wooferten.org/doc/WooferTen_AnnualReport_public.pdf

展覽空間成為抗爭的場域---看「拜山先講---再問六四和我城」


文:俞若玫

過去一年位於上海街的視覺藝術中心「活化廳」,經常被街坊認為「攪事(笑)」,又被某些人認定為測試藝術建制容忍底線的「實驗」場所,但它到底玩什麼? 實驗性在哪? 似乎都未具體梳理,本文嘗試綜合由五月底開始至七月一日的展覽「拜山先講---再問六四和我城」及連串活動,稍作整體,從展覽空間的延伸、攪動日常的美 學、建立在地情境,暫佔街道重申使用者的解釋權、重奪公眾回憶等等觀察作為開始,希望引發更多對公共藝術的討論。

作為藝術發展局資助的藝術空間,「活化廳」免卻經濟壓力,憑著借力打力的優勢,探索展覽空間的別樣可能。個人認為,它大抵不相信所謂社區藝術的展覽場所是符號再現的密封黑盒鬥智場域,也不是用來美化老街,出賣懷舊,感性回歸,最終提高鄰近地價的文化景點。哪它是什麼呢 ﹖

沒 有能力為它定性,但「活化廳」高度關注、甚至介入政治及社會議題是明顯的,而且,它展示的經常不是藝術品,而是一種表態,一種反金權、反官僚、反精英的鮮 明戲玩姿態,也強調社區「關係」的建構,如早期的「多多獎小小賞」把學生帶到社區,引發直接的對話及對小店的欣賞;另,如每月均有不同藝術家主理的「隔窗 有野」都致力製造跟參與者的「相遇」經驗,即使是短暫的,空降的,都以打開「對話」為旨。這似乎跟上世紀九十年代法國策展人Nicolas Bourriaud 提出的「關係美學」有相近的地方,在全球化藝術商品化、城市空間被宰割為斷裂封閉,不利關係發生的脈絡下,Bourriaud借用馬克斯的概念,主張建立 以交換、自給自足為依歸的interstice (暫繹為社會縫隙),展覽空間離開物質的交換,不再只是展示「物件」,而是著重「相遇」,引發跟參與者在特定的社會及文化情景下發生「關係」,邀請各種對 話的可能。於是,空間一旦「問題化」,藝展也是一種社會介入。

街頭藝展 介入日常
雖然不少人都批評「關係美 學」離不開精英本色,只是在安全的框架下談關係,無基進地拆解權力架構,無向當權者施壓。不過,「活化廳」最近舉行的幾個活動,特別是五月二十八日舉行的 「從北京走到北京道」街頭藝術展的基進味道又升溫,索性離開建制下的實體空間,把展場放到街上,把展品散落在山東街、上海街、南京街、廣東道,把生活的地 方跟八九年處處紅火的抗爭地方連結,同時介入當下社會議題,產生非常site-specific的抗爭意義 。

不論是創意 書院同學在上海街馬路上重寫當年學生的字句、黎立本抄寫北大學生絕食書、謝振聲 重現廣場街燈及聲音,都有種傳承學生運動的況味;而吳家俊、張景威在山東街泊車位放置一架白布製的坦克 ,更是介入日常的生活空間,擾亂尋常,突顯歷史的份量;而勞麗麗在南京街街頭扮作街販賣燈泡,融入街道風景,有效地引起街坊關注及對話,卻改變慣常語言, 因為她推銷的其實是「全天候集會燭光」。區華欣及葉浩麟等在廣東道的天空揚起「你有軍隊我有人民」的長長布條,尖銳有力,今天廣東道當然跟廣東無關,卻是 自由行消費地標,反專政標語跟名牌符號並列,歷史和現況一下子荒誕並置,街上行人錯愕的表情、沿途的對話才是這個展覽真正的展品。後區葉二人因貼街招被警 方檢控,「你有軍隊我有人民」竟在油麻地警署隨風傲展,在警權過大白色恐怖疑雲密佈的今天,咋天的豪語不單今天適用,更可能是明天社運的遠景,而藝術家二 人在警署跟警察討論六四,更是「不可多得」地跟權力直接對話。

建立情境 重奪回憶

另外,六 月三日舉行的「誰怕自由戰士?──重生儀式」,一班八十後藝術家以黑布完全覆蓋位在尖沙咀文化中心外的「自由戰士」,重點是給這件一直妾身不明只知出產法 國的公共雕塑重生,賦予它在地的、有機的全新意義,它不再是借來的符號,更不是立在廣場上沉默的獸,而是跟香港命脈相連,標誌年輕人對民主戰鬥精神不滅的 志向,成為明天的廣場歷史。當下,國民教育似要強勢出台,教育局高官放出歷史沙石論,都教人更要捍衛回憶,重奪公共記憶的解釋權及想像的可能。自由戰士不 再是掏去意義的舶來品了。

此外,六月四日由「活化廳」出發,維園為終,路經廣東道、自由戰士及灣仔藝術中心的活動「往廣場 的單車」,已是第二年舉行,再度讓參與者集體表達對六四的哀思,反思藝術跟政治的關係 ,同時短暫進佔街道,釋放街道使用者的想像及定義,顛覆被正常化到面目模糊的公共空間,試想像清脆樸實的單車鈴聲,如浪聲忽然在廣東道鏗鏘作響,也許只竊 取了正在快樂購物的消費者一分鐘的好奇,但對於踏著單車的人來說,這是一次重要的、公開的、集體的對歷史的表態。

當展覽場地成為一個抵抗被淘空、被打壓、被單一化的場域時,它不再只是一個我展你看的消費性空間,而是有生產動力,建構不同主體,推動參與的積極性,扣連物質、情景、想像及回憶的地方。此番地方意識的建立,不正是對我城文化的最佳守護及活化的方法嗎?

原文刊於2011-6-15 《信報》

貧窮達人松本哉: 行動者的惡搞美學

撰文︰黃靜


一部看上去有點笨拙,然而又一往無前的帆布木頭車,黏上愈來愈多的人,顛簸行經廣東道、窩打老道,再繞到登打士街口、豉油街、山東街,邊走邊停,邊停邊喝。轉入旺角街市、亞皆老街,走過港式茶餐廳、公園五金舖、印尼雜貨店。木頭車寫有「流動酒吧」毛筆大字,裝着社區藝術組織活化廳釀製的油麻地啤,不時給圍觀街坊斟酒,喇叭傳出市井式大呼小叫,參加者隊伍最終停歇地士道公園,歌舞酒不夜天。
除了活化廳,搞手還包括一個日本人:他有一雙金睛火眼,經常有着「感嘆號」式的表情。出落一身行動者的敏捷,省卻禮節,沒有多餘的躬身與尾音,但長期一副臉紅微醺的模樣。這就是傳說中的松本哉,人見人怕、人見人愛、日本知名惡搞滋事分子。嗜酒若他,近來的日本街頭,已偶然搭起流動酒吧。他舉起紅色大聲公向不知就裏的老街坊、有備而來的青年大喊:「快來喝啊!」人與人,尤其是資源匱乏的邊緣人之間,分享、交換、連結,成為網絡新世界推動的概念與議程,連政府也巴不得祭出各種二十三條整頓一番。若惡搞者已教人笑逐顏開,那麼以行動、生活裏惡搞的「素人」(日文「素人」即業餘人士)便是更堅實的實踐者。
「酒的力量真的很強大,知道我賣酒,人們就會圍攏。外國人語言不通,酒便成共通,變得很開心。既然來到香港這個『外國』,自然就都應該賣酒。」松本哉揚起肩上醒目的小汗巾。
做流動酒販、流動交換的意義是什麼?「自從去年發生了福島核災,東京連住不住到人也不知道,但他們逃離北部日本,他們害怕失去工作。結果很多人也逃不掉。金錢是他們最害怕失去的東西,但其實『經濟』並沒令他們快樂。大家如何脫離倚賴多年的金融經濟體系、熟悉的城市而仍舊能夠生存?」跟松本哉合作策劃行動、研究藝術與社運關係的Ken說。
松本哉想到造就更多可以移動(mobilize)的東西,製造可隨時逃走的引擎,發動其他人自我mobilize(移動、動員)。在去年號召的萬人反核遊行的隊伍間,已做起這門流動酒吧的生意。
原來是想inspire現代人建立快樂、以自立為目標的求生術。

中港日台的共通點
其實,日本或其他都會社會上早已出現「出軌」者,如尼特族(NEET,Not in Employment,Education or Training)、飛特族(freeter,自由工作者)。若要試驗生活的流徙,售賣家具豈非錯置感更強嗎?「賣家具的話反而可能變成消費的行為。賣酒的話,卻可以跟客人互動、聊天,變成好朋友。」怎想到城市人自以為脫離如農夫般望天打卦、紮根土地的生活,反而會更無法「mobile」?不少香港青年在「被脫離」於土地、歸屬的社會境況裏想到逃離、移民,但矛盾是青年和貧民卻是最沒有資源移動的人。
即使在不同年代,亞洲崛起中的城巿經驗,還是有相通之處。中、港、日、台在都市化進程上的共同處境,至少包括都市發展主義、地產霸權、市場主導、管理主義、貧富懸殊,以至人被異化、被疏離,並造成社會流動問題。然後數地皆有開發鄉郊引發的土地正義運動,乃至由三一一地震引發東亞各地的反核運動等..。
各方力量發展至一個地步,到今天終於集結起來。除了松本哉所屬的惡搞組織素人之亂外,還有韓國釜山的獨立藝術、抗爭音樂會組織者indiespace AGIT、台北由草莓廣場運動衍生的咖啡廳直走、武漢自治空間實驗我們家及自嘲「尚有仍未令藝術發展局有半點後悔」的油麻地活化廳。「日本開的G8會議是重要的經驗,遇到的行動者不再只來自歐洲拉美,亞洲的行動者首次聚集一起。We arenot alone, we are everywhere。」Ken笑說。
松本哉以高圓寺北中通商店街為中心的素人之亂即業餘者搗亂團隊,有二手回收店、咖啡店、酒吧等店舖,甚至創辦網絡電台及假學校素人大學。素人之亂在朋友、同路人的參與下,已有七家分店。「共同體」形成以後,活動「頻生」,但那並非社區中心式撫慰窮人的福利服務,而是自主、自治、資源流傳窮人之中的「求生法」和「革命法」。
學生時期開始抗爭
松本哉自著《素人之亂》,主題是「想辦法過不受制於人的生活」。書中記錄了由大學時期至開二手店多年來,這位爆發力的行動者一路抗爭、自由自在地生活的點子。此書直如指南,由「貧窮救急生活術」,到「決死」的殺價技巧,跟老街坊搞好關係租便宜房,至「飲食節約術」,交通的「必殺移動手段」,招式層出不窮。再來就是「街坊大作戰」,闡釋社區街坊之間利用流動資訊、交換物資、放映會、「偽巡邏隊」、修理改造物品的自治方式、自己打造公共設施,連結在地資料和人脈。
他常常以「作戰」、「鬥爭」,窮兇極惡的修辭來命名每個新的、奇形怪狀的行動,這些名號令人快樂,志氣高昂。名號包裹着的,卻往往是土炮而幽默的「惡作劇」,以非流血而強大的氣場嚇怕當權之士。他大學時期的造反事迹已揚名日本。當大學校方整肅髒亂自由之風,計劃把學生操練成商業世界的人才,大搞管理主義,規定學生「不得擅自進行活動」。松本哉一聲「可怒也!」便組成「守護法政貧窮風氣協會」,餐廳分量減少、難吃,分明欺負學生,他便發起「粉碎黑心學生餐廳鬥爭」,在餐廳門口偷接學校的電源煮咖喱飯,瞬間搞垮餐廳生意;為了令學生能在校園自由活動而進行「校園逗留抗爭」,在校園四處煮起火鍋,凝聚莘莘學子。
行動者意識到,這個年代,製造自己的「場所」非常重要,「空間」成為權力的核心角力維度。
「我們和朋友都在開各式各樣的店,咖啡廳、酒吧,有人在新宿開設info sho p(地下活動資訊中心),不只是一個店,而是資訊交換的功能,坐一下,聊天。
日常生活就在做自己的事,然後一起生活喝酒,很緊密。對我們來說,遊行以外,最重要是一起創造自己的『場所』,大家都變得緊密,到遊行的時候,自己凝聚在一起。」「讓窮人大剌剌在街上橫行」是他開店的原因,他總在宣揚窮人的生活尊嚴與反「敗」為勝的可能。
素人之亂在去年末「輕易」呼籲了萬多人上街反核,「其實大家是在網絡看到訊息自己來。如果你想要一口氣去說服一萬多人並不可能,還是從自己的根本去慢慢凝聚參與的人」。
媒體如The Economis t想像social media的興起,會否標誌着歐洲百年以前「咖啡廳沙龍」公民社會討論氛圍的回歸?但經歷過網絡生活的讀者都知道,那種討論氛圍不易建立。台灣的直走咖啡廳今次也來到香港分享,衍生自去年在台北中正廣場的野草莓運動。
壓抑的世界是大敵
咖啡廳做各種交流,讓改變與行動發酵的場所。他們的開店宣言道:「我們要做的不是直接把人拉進議題裏,而是建立行動的價值與意識,創造一股氛圍,使人具有行動的力量與可能。」「現行參與議題的方式相對門檻高,跟我們日常生活關聯較遠。必須要投入大量的時間與力氣,才能意識到現代社會裏我們所要面對的敵人是更巨大且隱藏在生活底下,也許是政府、財團或是意識形態。」「我們想要透過社群的經營和價值觀的共享來說出這些,也許看似迂迴,但我們認為這種方式才有辦法吸引到向來離社會運動比較遠的年輕人。而當我們有了這些基本的認識,才有可能回到日常中各個領域裏持續戰鬥,並且被社會大眾所接受╱看見╱挑戰。」但三年下來,鄰舍街坊一直不接受他們所作的「滋擾」,結果業主不再與他們續租,剛剛結業。試驗結束了,他們繼續「向前走」。
松本哉和素人之亂常掛在口邊的是「革命後之世界」。白頭佬莫昭如等香港七十年代的無政府主義者、托派最愛誇說「革命明天就要來臨」,由遙遠的夢散發力量。
今天,素人之亂和亞洲不少行動者更要「狼」一些,索性當作夢想已實現。繞過「革命」推翻政權、資本主義、重塑大同社會秩序等整體目標的犧牲與動員方式,而就以個人、身邊社群為基礎,由當下及足下開始,以假想革命已成功的心情╱態度作為生活的起點,推展微型的分享大同世界,以在夾縫中巧妙繞鑽的方式擺脫資本主義對生活的囚禁。
四處點火,松本哉心裏,最核心要反抗的東西是什麼?「我們最大的敵人是壓抑的世界。無論什麼地方也愈來愈壓抑,規距愈來愈多。高中時到外國旅行,發現自己的國家特別壓抑。後來我到中國等亞洲地區,發現其價值觀比日本都要自由。
但年紀大了,卻見亞洲各處漸漸和日本一樣,所以覺得這樣不行了,必須要站起來。」此次日韓中港四個團體在香港佔領中環的基地開了一次「高峰會」,分享抗爭經驗。佔領中環已堅持了逾半年,堪稱香港從未有的長久佔街公共空間抗爭(上次或許是九十年代的天台屋運動)。「全球佔領行動最重要是那句,我們是99%的人民。現在不知道怎麼搞的,分成很多階層,好像大家都在比窮,比誰更可憐;又或變成窮人之間對抗分化的感覺。所以先連結窮人和弱勢非常重要。」松本哉說。
抽象的恐共反共在香港的網絡世界蔓延,有冷靜的評論者指,大家不如跳出鍵盤,以實務與行動代替想像與恐懼。而眼前這個社運界北野武在上海街上揚長而去,誓要和眾人喝個爛醉。
撰文︰黃靜

4/5/2012 信報 Shun Po <城市定格>

抽象機器與遊牧空間: 以香港「活化廳」為例


抽象機器與遊牧空間:
以香港「活化廳」為例

 高俊宏 
2012


本文欲就香港「活化廳」(Woofer Ten)的實踐案例,嘗試在土地使用程度、資本集中程度乃至於政治權利不均等程度皆遠高於台灣的香港,討論藝術機器的相關問題,以及藝術游牧做為一種不僅僅是關乎生存,同時也是面對城市空間種種畸形現象的行動可能。


首先,必須從藝術家的語言裝配(agencement)開始,雷諾‧柏格(Ronald Bogue) 在《德勒茲論文學》[1]中提及德勒茲與瓜達利所稱的兩種裝配,包含了「非言說的機器裝配」(machinic assemblages,行動與熱情)以及「言說的發生集體裝配」(行為和聲明)的區別。後者,集體裝配是表達的層次,而前者機器裝配則是填充表達的內容,而這兩者之間不存在彼此歸屬問題,存在著變動性,也存在著更為基近的「涉入」(intervenes)關係,從創造性的語言內容狀態插入表達的權力場景。也因此,從文學的角度而言,德勒茲與瓜達利視語言為一種演現(performatives),不僅傳達所謂的字語秩序(mots d’ordre[2]),更進一步暗示了從身體性甩脫僵固語言表達的脫韁可能。

「活化廳」即扮演了香港語言身體性的脫韁路線,以成立不足三年的「活化廳」做為觀察,事實上是想以其作為一面窗戶,窺視近年來年輕的、非商業的香港藝術行動問題,也藉此思考藝術語言(一種異於社會表面聲明的非言說性裝配在香港特殊的社會集體裝配的集約式聲響之中,如何發出聲響。「活化廳」是2009年由一群香港年輕藝術工作者成立,現主要核心分子為劉建華(Jaspar),80後的李俊峰(畢業於香港中文大學藝術系,簡稱阿峰),以及一批年輕的藝術家。阿峰口述,香港的經濟幾乎完全操控於地產商的手中,由於房價租金極高,「活化廳」位於油麻地的運作空間是由香港藝術發展局所補助的金費,一個月即須24萬台幣,因此目前不得不依賴官方資金,縱使運用了官方資金,「活化廳」依然是近三年來香港的社區工作以及挑戰政治、商業地產權威方面堪稱活動力最強的團體,其運作模式主要分為社區行動、對抗重商主義行動、人權行動以及亞洲行動者的串連事務。

「活化廳」取得香港藝術發展局支助後,幽默地拉布條自己慶祝自己。(圖片來源:「活化廳」face book)

阿峰自陳「活化廳」的工作是一種反藝術的工作,德勒茲在論述抽象機器(abstract machine)中認為藝術是反羅各斯(anti-logos)的機器,藝術作為抽象機器,首先來自於游牧的、穿行(而非克制、克服)於平滑空間的抽象線條 (德勒茲認為抽象線條基本上是歌德式的,雖然經由帝國線條的介入,如埃及直線、希臘有機線條、或包圍式的中國線條,依然有其表達性及不可簡約性另一方面,在現代藝術之中,則存在著三種關於現實的線條:其一為具有嚴格分割(或許是對於現實生命)的線,不斷地切割變動:「每一次,從一個分割到另一個分割,他們都對我們說“現在你不再是個孩子了”;在學校裡“你現在不是在家裡”;在軍隊裡“你現在不是在學校裡”[3]」而第二種線條存在於分割之中的「生成」,例如成為律師、法官或者清潔人員;而第三條線則是跨越、帶領我們離開前二者的脫離線條。德勒茲認為,這三種線條不獨立存在,而是「內在的,相互糾纏在一起」,我們對這些糾纏之線的分析,因而生產出了不同名稱的東西:精神分裂分析、微觀政治學、圖表學「活化廳」做為一個反藝術的場域或者運動,不免也處於相互糾纏的狀態:必須在藝術之內操作反藝術的尷尬,表面上似乎是一種藝術精神分裂,但相較於香港主流藝術空間的重商重利、甚至採用買家貴賓參觀制的扭曲狀態,這種尷尬無疑至為真實,它隱然以藝術行動,觸及了對於藝術的逃逸以及對於未知之物集結的渴望

在游牧之諸線中,抽象之力(美學)在反藝術之中出現辯證空間,以「活化廳」2010《藝術造假Faking it》為例,這個號稱藝術造假有理的行動,某方面採取了廣為熟知的「挪用」手法,以「活化廳」臨馬路的戶外玻璃為展示空間,邀請藝術家及學生進行幾個階段的仿製藝術名作的行動,相關評論在香港已經做了不少討論[4],但是除了行動中顯見的作品著作權與創作者的創作自由的傳統問題之外,反藝術也存在著一種美學搬移問題:從一個個體搬移至另一個個體,在這個過程中,也就前後結果而言,線條在書寫美學的意義上並未真正徹底改變,以《藝術造假Faking it》裡的《無處不在的九龍皇帝》[5]為例,藝術家以上下顛倒的方式,將香港塗鴉奇人九龍皇帝」的塗鴉再次複製在街道玻璃上,但是因為年輕書寫者處於後設的位置(處於原創者之作品所設立的規範下),在保有線條美學(藝術)的狀況下,抽象之力立即由線條美學轉移到游牧藝術裡的「切割」、「生成」、「分裂」的辯證性之中,不是反藝術,而是讓藝術由一個本體叢生出許多零件,這種辯證性產生了立即的力量,也就是造假有理核心的問題:生產!

:《無處不在的九龍皇帝》仿製現場。(圖片來源:「活化廳」face book)
下:九龍皇帝」曾杜財其人及其塗鴉
(圖片來源:香港網絡大典http://evchk.wikia.com/wiki/%E6%9B%BE%E7%81%B6%E8%B2%A1)

從生產的角度而言,雖然「活化廳」在地產商人掌控的香港社會的藝術實踐顯得異常微小,不過做為一個地方性的小空間,其所進行的是一種相對於「大社會」的「小社區」藝術運動,2009《多多獎.小小賞》,透過深入周遭社區店面的訪查互動,以在店取材的方式幽默打造了各式獎盃,頒發給街頭巷尾三十幾家看似平凡其實不凡的店家,試圖建立在地之中原本不存在的庶民網絡;2009年繼續進行與社區互動頻繁的《小西九雙年展》(Siu Sai Gual Bananale),誓言以藝術家在小西九的社區行動,對抗「大西九文化區」的發展其中程展緯為未來西九罪惡區做好準備 >  作品,特別以的行動藝術以及空間佈置的方式嘲諷了香港的都會發展問題2011散佚街坊物語篇,則透蒐錄展示了「活化廳」周遭市場社區因為商業變遷所面臨的物件散佚,進一步促使我們思考藝術機構同時保育社區文化的必要性2012《殺到油麻地!地區自救計劃暨展覽示範》則開始探討同樣面臨都更的油麻地居民在的自救及對應策略。這些社會介入的作品對我們來說並不陌生,但是仔細看起來「活化廳」小社區的藝術行動形式擴張性很大,從一般認知的社區互動、到以孤立性作為主軸的行動藝術、對人權的關注、對政治的抗議……這種小尺幅但多樣性的藝術生產,與其他藝術活動(特別是商業化的香港藝術博覽會等機制最大不同之處,在於「真誠」層面上的判準,因此我會說,「活化廳」的藝術活動是在都市縫隙之中生產真誠,一部「生產真誠機器」。


左:2009 《小西九雙年展》程展緯為未來西九罪惡區做好準備 >,小西九雙年展網

在今天的藝術語彙中,再次討論童貞一般的真誠感覺上頗為可笑,但必須說,這種真誠並非等於絕對善意(真不等於善),甚至帶有幾許對資本權力世界的惡意,也正因此,它不致滑入偽善的行列,而僅是在普遍的資本權力「言說的發生集體裝配」之諸聲明中,提前懸置聲明(「獎」、「雙年展」、「展覽示範」,而進入前聲明狀態的絞動之中,進而產生出某種因為真誠而在現實場景顯得突兀、好笑、混亂的身體裝配(agencement)這種藝術行動介入社區的混亂感,再再試圖改寫現實聲明的僵固性,也再再挑戰了國家、資本等大敘事以及世代、傳統藝術觀念等,但在這些看似一般性的批判對象之後,筆者認為更進一步存在著對於社會集體發生裝配現況的洞悉及焦慮:「人的消失」,德勒茲認為「並沒有主體,只有發生的集體裝配,對於像香港這樣的鳥籠民主以及地產商壟斷經濟的社會而言,這即意味著除了國家聲明或者資本聲明之外,人毫無可能被任何東西意識到,而「活化廳」則試著透過諸多活動試著讓人這個社會體被意識到

也因為真誠,「朋友社會」才可能在希臘之後的今日被思考,德勒茲在地理哲學裡提及了有別於希臘朋友概念的資本主義「兄弟們」社會,資本主義「兄弟們」社會將國族國家視為一個領土,進行資本主義模式的解疆域(再領土化),德勒茲認為,在領土土地之間,存在著從領土土地以及從土地領土之間的反覆關係,當代國家普遍面對的,是彷彿不可變動的資本領土關係,同樣的,以「活化廳」為例,藝術作為抽象機器,進行得正是在資本領土解疆域以及在朋友的土地上重新建立關係的運作,自陳反藝術卻不斷地以藝術的手法關心社區,阿峰認為:「我很相信這種交往」,在其與日、韓、台、中的行動者連結中,也逐漸浮現一種外在於諸多封建領土」之外的新的,飄越海洋而非具體的土地概念,組裝著一個至今尚未明確,卻充滿著真誠意味的跨亞際戰略性朋友關係


[1]雷諾‧柏格著,李育霖譯,《德勒茲論文學》,麥田,2006,頁181-200
[2] 法文Mots為字、語、短文、格言之意。
[3] 德勒茲著,陳永國譯,〈游牧藝術:空間〉,收錄於汪安民主編,《生產‧第五輯,德勒茲機器》,廣西師範大學出版社,2008,頁143
[4] 相關報導有〈創作造假 偽裝藝術〉《am730(2010/7/26)。、〈藝術造假—奉旨造 A 貨〉《信報》2010/7/29,頁 41[副刊/今日焦點]、張翠瑜:〈造假有理〉《文化現場》2010/8 月號,頁 22-23。資料來源:〈活化廳 09-10 工作報告1〉。
[5] 「九龍皇帝」曾灶財,在香港街頭塗鴉超過 50 年,被認為有精神病。去逝後,梁文道認為九龍皇帝「絕對是港人的集體回憶,亦啟發我們重新思考何謂藝術。」

隔牆有耳:活化廳月曆大事重現

Woofer calendar
2012年01月09日

2012來了,準備咗新年月曆未呢?繼上年天主教正義和平委員會印咗本菜園村月曆後,八方發現今年嘅月曆佳作,係由油麻地活化廳一班藝術工作者印製,裏面嘅相主要同社運有關嘅藝術品,好似3月有深水埗重建戶黃乃忠製作嘅「為公義而戰」傳統花牌陪住你;6月忘不了六四,大相係由高倩彤繪畫嘅「猜猜畫畫安雅棋」八九民運插圖,9月中秋則有「普選月餅」。喺一啲指定日子,仲會提你有過乜嘢大事發生,好似1993年嘅1月6日,三個蒙面劫匪持 AK47打劫信和中心金行,射死一名途人。月曆印咗1,000份,由藝發局資助,詳情可電郵畀 info@wooferten.org查詢。 

On Artist-run space in Hong Kong: "Instituting, Institutive,Instituent

pipeline magazine issue 35
pipeline magazine issue 35

Pipeline magazine issue 35

On Artist-run space in Hong Kong: "Instituting, Institutive,Instituent
By Pelin Tan

活化廳

明報副刊 14 March 2010

社運月餅爭普選

mooncake 001

活化粵語流行曲

AM730

Lateral Thinking: Artivist Networks In East Asia

Art Asia Pacific Issue 77



artasiapacific | MARCH/APRIL 2012 | ISSUE 77
by OLIVIER KRISCHER

Walking through Hong Kong’s Yau Ma Tei neighborhood in the
heart of the urban development on Kowloon peninsula, one is only
a few subway stops from the cosmopolitan Central business district
across the harbor, the financial hub of Asia. Here, the dense apartment
blocks, wrapped in signboards, iridescent Chinese characters and
bamboo scaffolding, appear more like collages than architecture.
The simplified map on a smart-phone screen seems hopelessly
oblivious to the thick, bustling life on the streets. Shanghai Street is
far from the commercial strip of the local art scene; nor is it a site for
trendy warehouse annex spaces or young upstarts, nibbling at the
fringes. So, what kind of an art space would live here, and why?
In many respects, Hong Kong is similar to Tokyo, Seoul and Taipei,
cities that have grown enormously in neoliberal economies of the
“Asian miracle.” In these East Asian megalopolises, alongside a
nascent infrastructure of commercial galleries and official institutions
developed over the last 20 to 30 years, alternative and independent
cultural spaces have established themselves as platforms for social
resistance and creative possibility. Faced with constant “urban
renewal,” often at the expense of local heritage and individual
livelihoods, young artists, in particular, are often forced out of the city
center or popular districts by rising property values, even when art’s
very presence has added luster to the local real estate.
Despite their different contexts, artists such as Lee Chun Fung,
managing director of Hong Kong’s Woofer Ten art space, Misako
Ichimura, an independent “homeless” artist based in Tokyo, and Kim
Kang and her husband Kim Youn Hoan at LAB39 in the Mullae Artist
Village in Seoul, for example, share common concerns about the
direction of urbanization in their cities, the collusion of governments
and property developers, the loss of civic values and the fragmentation
of local identity. Many are using art and activism, which they dub
“artivism,” to be stakeholders in the cultural life, and future, of
their cities; and they recognize that their local experience resonates
elsewhere in the region.
The summer night in Yau Ma Tei is muggy, but the room at Woofer
Ten art space is packed. The speaker is Misako Ichimura, invited as an
“Artivist in Residence.” A graduate of the prestigious Tokyo National
University of Fine Arts and Music (now Tokyo University of the Arts),
she has chosen to live in a homeless community of some 40 makeshift
blue tents in a corner of a park in central Tokyo since her return from
Amsterdam in 2002, where she lived in a squat. As part of her ongoing
projects, she and other residents run a “café” in the park, not as a
business, but as a place to socialize. In an information sheet, the artist
explains: “This café is also a place where homeless people and those
with homes can meet. In this community the superfluous items of
the city are collected, split and exchanged between residents, such
that ‘things’ become tools of communication. This kind of system,
unrelated to money, is also carried out at Café Enoaru. Every Tuesday
a painting and drawing gathering is held here too. Pictures drawn
here are later exhibited at Café Enoaru. Exhibitions are held many
times throughout the year.” (In Japanese, “e-no-aru-café” sounds like
“the café with paintings.”) Besides these gatherings, Ichimura has
also started a group specifically for homeless women, to share their
experiences and gain strength in numbers. Based on these informal
meetings, in 2006 she published an illustrated book reflecting on the
condition of homeless women in Tokyo, as Chocolate in a Blue-Tent
Village: Letters to Kikuchi from the Park.
As part of her two-week residency in Hong Kong, in addition
to presentations discussing her experience of homelessness,
Ichimura also displayed materials from activist projects. For her
end-of-residency exhibition, she filled the Woofer Ten space with a
documentary video, printed pamphlets and photos, and painted the
walls with activist slogans—the largest reading “Hands off Miyashita
Park!” in Japanese, in thick, frantic black letters on a bright red wall.
The “exhibition,” a kind of reportage, referred to Ichimura’s efforts
to organize protests against a deal between Nike and Tokyo’s Shibuya
Ward that would have given naming and development rights to the
public Miyashita Park to the sporting-goods giant—without any public
consultation. Protests had stalled the project beginning in 2008, after
which, in early 2010, artists, activists and social workers occupied the
park in a movement called “Artist in Residence Miyashita Park” (aka
AIR Miyashita Park), using blogs and social media to publicize their
activities and raise public awareness. Besides the commercialization
of public space, the development meant 30 homeless park residents
would be forced to leave. Eventually, over 100 police, including riot
specialists, secured the park, removing protestors and park residents,
on behalf of the company and local authorities. Although Nike
subsequently agreed not to rename the park “Nike Park” as intended,
plans went ahead apace, and the skate-park opened last April—as a
paid, fenced-in skateboarding facility, technically run by the company
on a ten-year lease from the local government.
In the face of government and corporate power, and a largely
disinterested public, can art “make a difference”? And is this the goal
of activist artists? When we hear about “engaging” communities at
international exhibitions, few would have the homeless, for example,
in mind. Yet Ichimura never suggests that she sees the community
itself as a problem, or that her art and activism—difficult to separate in
practice—could take people off the streets. As her Café Enoaru project
and art classes demonstrate, she has not been trying to reform the
community or gentrify it with “culture.” If anything, much of her work
and activism is aimed in the other direction: at the mainstream society
which surrounds this community, with little or no knowledge of the
issues it faces. For instance, Japan tends to see itself as predominantly
middle class, yet in 2009, when Yukio Hatoyama’s new left-of-center
government (one of the first changes of power in postwar Japan’s
50-plus years of democracy) published official statistics, around 15
percent of the country was revealed to fit the “working poor” bracket.
This was in sharp contrast to the national mythology, and suggested
that such social issues do exist but are seldom acknowledged by
the government or the general public. Whether as artist or activist,
Ichimura sees her presence as a bridge between sectors of the
community that do not usually meet. And for this, art can be a tool.
Similar efforts have been underway in Seoul, with a level of organic
collaboration that, for the time being, is changing the direction of
urban redevelopment in Seoul’s Yeongdeungpo-gu district. The main
forces behind Mullae Artist Village are artist-activists Kim Kang
and her husband Kim Youn Hoan, who have made a career using
community-orientated projects that confront specific cultural, social
and political issues. After going to France to study in 2001, as with
Ichimura, the Kims became involved in squatting, with Kim Kang
eventually writing a thesis (in French) on the history of squatting
in France. Moving back to Korea in 2004, the pair established a group
called Oasis, and undertook numerous creative interventions, in
Seoul and elsewhere, around various social issues.
As part of their “Oasis Project,” they set their eyes on a building
owned by the country’s largest arts association, the Federation of
Artistic and Cultural Organizations of Korea, originally established in
1961, which has built close ties to previous conservative governments
over the last five decades. In 1996, the federation lobbied for funding
to construct a 25-floor building in downtown Seoul, ostensibly for
artists. By 2004, the building had been left incomplete for nearly seven
years, apparently because government-allocated money (around
KRW 16.5 billion, or USD 14.8 million) for construction had been used
elsewhere by the association, and because disputes had formed with
the construction companies. “We thought of this building as a symbol
of bad politics and cultural policy,” explained Kim Kang confidently,
in our conversation at Mullae late last year. “We thought: Our
government wanted to build this building for artists; we are artists,
so we have a right to use it.”
With an impressive level of organization, Oasis raised public
awareness of their project by publicizing online their intentions to
occupy the building, conducting a squatting workshop, then
circulating a mock real-estate announcement offering free studio
space on the condition that artists collaborate as a community.
They also carried out site visits of the incomplete building. The arts
association alleged that Oasis were “swindlers,” charges that were
quashed when authorities determined Oasis had not solicited any
payments and hence had not acted unlawfully. Finally on August 15,
2004, in a well-orchestrated operation, the group moved into the
building, accompanied by cameramen from the three main television
channels at the time, while a band of supporters looked on from the
street outside. Although only there for half a day, the group continued
to organize subsequent performances at that site and elsewhere in
the city. Although the Kims were eventually fined􀀃􀋴500,000 ($450)
for the action, the accompanying media attention sparked a public
debate on cronyism and the lack of accountability involved in large
government grants. As far as Kang is concerned, the temporary
occupation was successful, as it revealed, she states coolly, “the
monopoly of space in the capitalist system.”
While the “Oasis Project” targeted the relationship between
the official art world and the government, the artist’s village at Mullaedong
has developed more organically. After Oasis was dissolved in
2007, the Kims became interested in this area, known for its small
metal workshops, of which only a few were still in operation, as
plans to redevelop the area on par with its surroundings discouraged
landlords from investing in maintenance. In some cases, premises
had been left empty for years. Attracted by the cheap rent, the Kims
moved in, around June of that year, promptly launching their office
as LAB39 – Urban Society and Art Research Center. They encouraged
other artists to seek out cheap studio spaces at the site, and the
community began to grow.
In the nearly five years since its establishment, LAB39 has held
collaborative art projects with universities, and given tours of the
village to student groups. It leases part of another warehouse nearby
to run a small café, with an adjoining exhibition area, helping to fund
their events and research. With the landlord’s permission, they also
cleared their building’s rooftop to install an organic vegetable garden,
selling produce to city cafés. Meanwhile, the Mullae district is now
inhabited by more than 170 artists. Unlike recent art precincts being
planned by municipal governments around the region, classifying art
in the realm of cultural industries, Mullae’s artists and independent
spaces remain part of the urban fabric on their own terms.
When we met at the LAB39 office late last year, Kang discussed
the distinct relationship the group has to the area. LAB39 includes
ten core members but has a network of collaborators in East Asia,
Europe and South America. Besides their research projects, many
members—including Kang—produce their own artwork, while being
involved in social and cultural activism. Kim points out bunk beds in
one corner of the office that were built by the group, which serve as
what she calls an “autonomous residency program.” Kang explains:
“In general, residency programs around the world are competitive; we
don’t like competition. We want to work with our network, through
contacts from friends, or friends of friends of friends! Sometimes
artists overseas send us a request [to come here], other times we invite
the artist.” In Ichimura’s case, she knew about Kim Kang’s work on
squatting and contacted the Lab, which is where, during her residency,
she met Woofer Ten’s Lee Chun Fung.
For their current research project, dubbed “Squat Geography
Information System,” the Kims are trying to identify which
government-owned buildings in Seoul are not being used and why—
information that is not usually made public. Since 2007, they have
produced three reports of urban research about Seoul, as well as a book
summarizing their findings for a more general public, all of which
were published in Korean and hence aimed at enriching the local
scene rather than making Seoul, for example, the subject of an
international project. As Kim says, “If we find some space, this space
is a public space, it’s paid for by our money [i.e., tax money], so we have
a right to use it”—or, at least to have a say in how it should be used.
The model for this kind of research readily translates to other
metroplitan areas that similarly live in the shadow of urban renewal.
So when the Kims were “artivists in residence” at Woofer Ten in
mid-2011, participants at their squatting workshop quickly identified
the former Oil Street Artist Village—a large complex on prime land
overlooking the harbor that has sat vacant for a decade after its
resident art spaces were relocated to the Cattle Depot in a more remote
part of Kowloon—as a prime site for a symbolic intervention.
The relevance of these spaces, their activities and relationships, has
quickly gained notice. The artist-run VT Artsalon, in Taipei, recently
published a book titled Creating Spaces – Post-Alternative Spaces in
Asia (2011), featuring Woofer Ten, along with 20 other regional spaces,
including Tokyo’s 3331 Arts Chiyoda, Alternative Space Loop in Seoul,
Green Papaya Art Projects in Manila, and quite a few in Taiwan.
Differentiating these start-ups from earlier alternative exhibition
venues, in the Taiwan context, artist and VT Artsalon consultant Yao
Jui-Chung writes: “The biggest difference between a ‘post-alternative
space’ and a commercial gallery or art foundation is that a postalternative
space places artists at its core to maintain experimentation,
independence, academics and flexibility . . . [Being] young, free and
open-minded are its greatest assets, since they can flexibly shuttle
between the reality and the ideal.”
While the various initiatives in Creating Spaces address similar civic
concerns, each operates on its own terms. Woofer Ten, for example, is
government funded and housed in a government building; yet on the
strength of its management, it shares a close relationship with both the
more avant-garde position of LAB39 and the consciously “outsider”
status of Ichimura. Perhaps, then, the hardware—the structure—of
such spaces no longer predetermines their character. This might
explain why such a generic term as “space” seems appropriately potent
as a catch-all designation for groups that, if nothing else, make no
commitment to the “bottom line,” or to specific art-making agendas.
Are they idealistic? Yes. But, these young spaces might argue, their
cities and lives are being shaped by powerful ideals, of a neoliberal
variety, that are no more or less logical in reality.
Talking over the chatter of regular customers one afternoon in
January, in an old yum cha restaurant next door to Woofer Ten, Lee
Chun Fung, and founding director, Jaspar Lau, explained the history
behind this atypical art space-cum-community-center, which relies
on annual grants from Hong Kong’s Arts Development Council.
Originally a Chinese herbalist, the Woofer Ten premises became the
“Shanghai Street Artspace” (still its official name) based on a proposal
by local arts organizer Howard Chan. Over the ensuing decade, it was
managed by various arts groups or individuals, often as an exhibition
venue, even offering art courses at one stage; yet by the time it became
available for proposals again in 2009, notes Lau, “the local art scene
had changed, people were talking about the community.” Artist
Luke Ching, known for works that directly engage city life, saw this
as a chance to create an art space focused on process rather than
outcome, situated in the middle of an old neighborhood.
Woofer Ten was registered that year as a nonprofit organization,
with a dozen “members,” including Cheng Yee-man and Clara
Cheung (who together established the sister space C&G Artpartment
in nearby Prince Edward around the same time), Cally Yu, Wen Yau
and current director Lee Chun Fung. The space was intended not
only for producing contemporary art in a permanent local context,
to familiarize the community” with conceptual art practices and
practitioners, but it also hoped, by encouraging members to produce
on-site, to challenge studio-based (“self-orientated,” says Lau)
practice, to confront the everyday, and not simply as an abstract ideal.
“The advantage” of being in Yau Ma Tei, Lau says, “is that you are
already in the community; people get to know you day by day.”
Subsequent projects have blurred the lines between audience and
participant, exhibition space and community center. When a nearby
flower plaque master, Wong Nai Chung, was forced out of his home
due to urban renewal, Woofer Ten used their “Artist in Residency”
program to accommodate him long-term in their space, designating
him “Flower Plaque Master in Residence.” When members, Wong Wai
Yin and her husband Sheung Chi Kwan returned from their respective
New York residencies, Wong turned Woofer Ten into a subsidized
espresso café. Serving patrons herself, Wong funded the “project” with
part of her grant—thus sharing, she says, both the café experience
of New York at a discounted price, and, indirectly, the generously
taxpayer-funded residency grant. In this way, many of Woofer Ten’s
projects parody the prevailing system of exhibitions, exhibition spaces
or grant proposals in Hong Kong—diverting official resources into
a mixture of locally contingent needs and artistic experimentation,
through the relative autonomy of an art space.
Since its inception, Woofer Ten has also undergone a subtle shift
in its direction. Whereas founding director Lau and instigator Luke
Ching represent the generation that was just coming into adulthood
when the 1989 June Fourth student movement took shape in Beijing’s
Tiananmen Square, sparking simultaneous marches and benefit
concerts in Hong Kong, 28-year-old Lee is from what has come to be
dubbed as the “post-80s,” referring to a social movement whose main
actors, many of them artists, were born after 1980 and are thus the
last generation to grow up under British rule, and in some senses the
first to experience an arbitrarily imposed national identity in their
formative years (Lee recalls suddenly having to learn Mandarin and
sing the national anthem at secondary school, for example). The post-
80s movement coalesced in December 2006, around opposition to
the proposed demolition of Hong Kong’s old Star Ferry Pier and clock
tower, at Edinburgh Place. Not without irony perhaps, it was a threat to
the territory’s colonial architecture that sparked a sense of losing local
heritage and identity, amid rampant redevelopment and increased
mainland influence in Hong Kong life.
Lee considers the last stand of the post-80s to be the 2009 “Choi
Yuen Tsuen Woodstock: An Arts Festival among the Ruins.” Free and
public, the festival comprised music, exhibitions and performances
organized in collaboration with local residents to protest the XRL
high-speed rail-link (connecting Kowloon with mainland China’s
express train between Shenzhen and Guangzhou). The government
had announced, in January 2010, that it would be built through the
Choi Yuen village and farmlands in the north of the territory, at a
public cost of over HKD 66 billion (USD 8.5 billion), and contracted to
a private company that is also a major property developer. There was
added irony in the fact that the train will stop in the middle of another
expensive project, the West Kowloon Cultural District, developed at
a cost of HKD 21.6 billion (USD 2.8 billion) so far, to an unsupportive
public. Over two days, almost 2,000 people joined Choi Yuen residents,
despite knowing the fate of the site had already been sealed.
Such community-based or artivist practices are not only a response
to changes in urban politics and the privatization of city development;
they also represent a shift in the oppositional relationship of aesthetics
and politics, a central problem of modernity. In the 20th century,
societies in which this opposition was overcome, through its apparent
denial or union, were totalitarian in nature. But, unlike the historical
avant-garde that sought to keep the two spheres apart by alternately
choosing to radicalize in either the aesthetic or the political direction,
something different is at work among artists today. With bursts of
collective energy, in either or both of these directions, artivists can,
by virtue of the flexibility of their individual practices and collective
organizations, as Yao Jui-chang suggested, move between their reality
and an ideal. This contingency is more potent than any one medium,
because it lies in the ability to think differently. Call it imagination.
So, while the post-80s generation in Hong Kong has since lost its
steam and fragmented, its members, such as Lee Chun Fung, have
taken their ideals in different directions. Some have moved into radio,
others into sustainable farming. Lee is now at Woofer Ten. In Seoul,
Kim Kang also spoke of her preference for change and mobility; and no
doubt Mullae Artist Village will run its course and other paths will be
explored. All are busy looking for ways to create or contribute to “the
future”—which, after all, is always already, alternative.