新報:活化廳 社區藝術共存亡



【文化藝術】Janice

經過四年建立出的社區網絡,活化廳近年舉辦漸多街坊自發的社區藝術活動,原來街坊中有人寫詩、作畫,也有收藏家。從街坊們生活中發掘煙滅於經濟掛帥的藝術可能,街坊由他們引領,從生活衍生出的藝術發掘社區價值,「活化」失落的鄰里關係,令探討社區發展的力量日漸擴張。讓街坊置於如此前線,正是活化廳難得的地方。掙扎於「要走定要守」之時,不認識但經常路過的街坊走進來,對他們說「走就注定失敗,守才會成功」。

推開活化廳的破璃門,地上一個舞獅獅頭,黑板牆展覽着不同筆跡、不同語言露宿者的橋城故事。一路過穿襯衫提着布袋的大叔有一搭沒一搭地問玻璃上貼着「無限期留守」的來龍去脈。四處張貼着零落的海報文章畫作、抗爭的打油詩。書櫃中最醒目是一套十六本微微發黃的《魯迅全集》,是街坊捐出的,閣樓陰暗角落擱着一疊大型花牌。駐守油麻地四年的活化廳剛於9月30日收到藝發局通知,不獲續約上訴失敗,面臨撤離。

長線發展的死胡同

活化廳所在大廈,由地政署管理,位於上海街與咸美頓街交界。1999年開始批予藝發局,作社區藝術空間用途,樓上零星單位曾以象徵式收費租予不同NGO或藝術家。一年後五個空置單位已交還地政署,不再提供申請。須隔年申請續約的地舖「上海街視覺藝術空間」,前身為高雅潔白的中環Gallery式展廳,不時有本土藝術家展覽,但人跡罕至。

2009年,活化廳接手,把潔白高牆射燈拆下,換上通透的玻璃幕牆,內裏一目了然。四年以來,大大小小的活動,令大家記住了活化廳的名字,與街坊連結亦熟絡起來,成為不少街坊聚腳地。今年,以「公平原則」隔年招標的空間落於同樣次次申請的社區文化發展中心總幹事社運藝術老前輩莫昭如手上,失去資助的活化廳則落於困窘的局面。由此而起,反映出甚麼問題?社區藝術發展,需要的是甚麼?

核心成員Vangi與葉浩麟與上星期前來視察的藝發局成員溝通過,他們聲稱會再找空置單位安頓活化廳。至於落選的原因,卻是計劃書內容比其他對手不夠多元,因而評分較低。一向靈活多變,不規限於藝術形式、參與對象,貼近社區文化的藝術活動被指不夠多元,實在令人訝異。原來,為對沒有該區經驗的其他投標者公平起見,往績並不考慮於評分小組之中。

藝發局僵化

葉浩麟指:「本來一年或兩年評核對本身藝團發展有幫肋,告訴他們有甚麼問題,可以怎樣改善。但不考慮往績,更要隔年與其他藝團競投,正正令我們希望長線發展的藝團無法前行。」此外Vangi更指出藝發局標書招攬發展社區藝術的團體,但評審只有一個曾落區評核活動質素。評審們確實了解油麻地嗎?了解這個社區的需要嗎?社區的街坊有參與權嗎?他們對社區藝術的了解足夠嗎?於資源不足下,沒有對審批對象的深刻了解,一向只着眼於公平分配資源為原則的藝發局,於僵化的行政制度下,總是變相成為藝術家藝團的長線發展的劊子手。

羅馬非一天建成

黃秋生當選藝發局戲劇界代表,於節目上表示:「真要做回藝術發展局,而不是藝術生存局」正正說中藝發局的盲點。藝術工作者於活化廳與街坊打成一片,緊貼社區脈絡,同時提出現社區藝術發展延續性,是四年不斷實驗的結果。由第一屆十位關注本土的藝術家,包括程展緯、劉建華和現時負責人李俊峰等,主要以活化廳作為與藝發局對話的平台,爭取更多資源空間。另一方面,為擺脫社區藝術空降的習性,藝術與群眾脫離的常態,開始的《多多獎.小小賞》,藝術家搜集被殺學校中剩餘的獎牌,深入社區,表揚地區中他們覺得有價值的文化,可算是與互相打招呼的第一步。

由溫馨店舖對傳統手工藝的熱誠,到孜孜不倦的遊擊poster黨,到近來《橋城故事》和《油麻地運動會》,都是一連串由空間出發,關注社區聲勢薄弱的街坊、露宿者、果欄工人等,可與一眾街坊一同參與的活動。一天街坊Fred媽於聖誕派飯團活動中勾起從前派飯記憶,主動出錢於地區組織派飯。這是建立彼此信任後的結果。街坊隨時推門而進,不入門的見面也問:「你哋幾時派活化報啊?」Vangi說對於活化廳長遠發展的聲音,根據原有制度,「他們(藝發局)不懂反應」。四年以來,報告書中一直爭取樓上空置單位或更多資源分配,但至今仍然只有上海街404這個唯一的社區藝術空間可供申請,以至發展社區藝術,只剩唯一門路。

親密之必要

「不單是辦workshop,有社區人士參與就是社區藝術。社區藝術更可以是藝術家以他們的技能,連結人同人的關係。平日他們的媒介可能是畫之類,但社區藝術的媒介是人,是人與人之間的關係,是一種溝通。」Vangi最希望透過社區藝術從拾於自己生活地區已消失的鄰里關係。「我們更進一步想社區的營造,有前瞻性的,建立我們想像與期望的社區。靈巧地回應社區狀況,與社區溝通。」

葉浩麟認為藝術重要在於,它是一種令人意想不到、創新的精神,令人擴闊對社區的想像。他們與街坊討論過公共空間的運用、油麻地種菜的可能。一位投稿於活化報的街坊本來只畫自己生活照,後來他們提議畫與社區有關的事,他開始畫街景、節日。一個藝術家的領域從而擴闊至社區的層面。活化廳的活動是流動的。繼承昨日的事件,一步步擴展。四年以來,發展出針對油麻地街坊口味摸索出的社區藝術藍圖、社區網絡的雛型。如葉浩麟所言社區始終是存在的,亦可以有不同型式的社區藝術。但鄰里關係、社區網絡,由人與空間的運用而起,非官方一貫所想由單一建築物或空間連結。遷移過後,以四年建立起網絡的雛型自有脫落,豈不與他們守護多年,急促重建中湮滅的本土價值,同一命運?

新報揭頁版:http://www.hkdailynews.com.hk/swf/index.html?id=540

從「一年起,兩年散」到「交個廳俾街坊」﹣活化廳


文:李俊峰(活化廳 核心成員)


源起:一場各自修行的「社區/藝術」實驗:

「活化廳」的故事,其實很不好說。因為一直以來「活化廳」不算曾共識過一特定的意識形態/理念框架/會章之類,而是一個開放平台...開始自一些疑問、關注,從一堆模糊的想像中不停摸索、重溯、又重新修正... 然後,一下子我們便走到現在。

聽說這最初是藝術家程展緯的點子。喜歡發掘失敗個案的他,有天忽然想向「藝發局」提交一個註定失敗的提案,申請額是一元($1),於是便出現「藝發局」連一元也不肯支持的笑點。可是此計劃讓他無意中發現「藝發局」網頁上刊登的「上海街視藝空間管理計劃」,而招標書規定此空間需要推動「社區藝術」,因此營運(或當時流行語:騎劫)此空間,對於打開「社區藝術」的討論是一個很有趣的槓桿點。另外,此空間位處於油麻地上海街一個面對高速城市發展的臨街地鋪,與草根街坊朝夕相對,對於一直以來打游擊的行動方式,這正好提供一個機會安頓下來,並作為一個與社區建立持續關係的根據地。於是,程展緯邀請各位近年活躍從事社會性/政治性創作及評論的藝術家朋友加入,組成了「活化廳」。 

「活化」本地藝術的外框與內涵:

就此,「活化廳」在2009年的10月起在油麻地「上海街視藝空間」落戶。最初,「活化廳」並不是為長遠作戰而創立,只是(程展緯定位的)一個「一年起,兩年散」的藝術家空間(artist-run space) 實驗。此實驗在於讓各人在此一平台,開拓「社區藝術」的可能性,釋放想像,因此,「活化廳」之為「活化」:讓一些埋藏在社區的可能性可被「活化」起來,審視藝術可如何真正「活化」社區之餘,也「活化」藝術/藝術空間這形式本身。

重視日常交往的「社區/藝術」:

在此一框架下,「活化廳」以兩個主軸方向發展。其一,日常狀況下開放予街坊的「活化廳」。其二,以個別主題性實驗為單位的藝術計劃。前者體現在「廳」的格局。「廳」的意思,一方面戲弄官方機構的名字(曾想過叫「活化局」,與「市局重建局」打對台),另是取其「公/私」交流點之意。佈置親切的客廳,門口寫著:「隨便入唻坐」,並提供各種各樣的設施,如雪柜、飲水機、圖書閣、電腦等。初期我們亦委約藝術家在這些設施中創作,如魚缸裝置展、雪柜冰雕展、獨立漫畫圖書閣。開業時也開展了「乒乓外交」,街坊進來切磋球技,可獲贈一卷從其他藝術空間偷來的廁紙。基本上「活化廳」一開始已成功讓街坊主動參與,亦成功地模糊了社區中心和(作為藝術展示和生產的)藝術空間兩者之間的界線。

不過其實這個「廳」最重要的還是人的因素。比如「活化廳」旁邊另一社福機構也提供坐椅給觀眾,也有展覽和報紙,可是走進去的街坊就不算多。老人家其實也可以去老人中心或公園,為什麼偏(甚至有街坊曾說道:若這裡不是「活化廳」便不會進來) 偏愛來「活化廳」? 我想其一因素是因為這裡有「人」,街坊在這裡找到他們的自足感,將這裡「當成自己個廳」。

因此,像街坊走進來談心事一類的事情便常常發生。(曾經一段時間,在廳內特別多一些失學待業退休但又想幹點事兒的街坊) 而且藝術家成員就待在「活化廳」,與街坊的關係便可以比較「活」地發展。如街坊與成員有時論政交鋒,這些辯論或可之後發展成一些合作,然後,街坊也會邀請其他朋友來聊天,其後便碰撞出什麼事情。

#「社區/藝術」的對話平台:

所以大體上,在這關係基礎下,很多主題計劃就按此申延開去。比如說:由藝術家遍尋社區有趣事再製作獎盃的「小小賞.多多獎」;回應社區在地文化,如「風水」、「師父贊」; 涉及硬政治時事議題碰撞,如「藝術造假」、「反清復明書畫展」;藉不同面向探討六四與社區歷史脈絡的「六十四件事」;每月邀請不同藝術家於櫥窗策動行為展演的「隔窗有野」;以派送小禮物作為藝術行動的「每月益街坊」 等等。

藉此,「活化廳」提供藝術家一個進入這草根社區,街坊又願意參與其中的對話平台。主題計劃各自有其實驗方向,而前線成員亦拉動不同配套活動,撮合有趣街坊作為支援。如「小小賞.多多獎」,一方面讓藝術家走進社區考察,街坊同時也前來舉報社區好人好事,藝術家與其合作,構成有趣對話。另這些關係也一定程度隨時間發展,如最近一位在三年多前獲頒獎盃的街坊,因獎盃損壞了,便拿獎盃到廳來維修,隨我們與街坊建立的友誼,這獎盃對她來說也變成具有重大的紀念價值。這種人的因素也體現在策展方法上,如回應區內手藝行業的「師父贊」,著眼的不單是梳理各工藝行業的知識,而是由藝術家拜師學藝的對話中得出一種人與人的生活體驗,找出一些「故事」。


#從「一年起,兩年散」到「交個廳俾街坊」:

但在「活化廳」落戶差不多一年後,我們開始意識到「藝發局」再次將此空間公開招標的問題,因為最初我們一度以為「藝發局」是每年內部續約,而不是公開招標,對是否延續發展並無共識。亦即是說,「活化廳」將要處理一個難題:應如最初設定讓其「一年起,兩年散」,還是嘗試延續下去?

當時,內部討論出現重大分歧,對部份藝術家而言,他們參與時的定位並不是長遠深耕一個社區,而且持續經營也不是他們所擅長。另一方面,「活化廳」的前線工作非常繁重,其他成員亦不易分擔,如何處理前線的消耗狀況?這在當時也成了應否延續下去的難題。然而,一直以來,「活化廳」的親民風格卻得到了很多街坊與業界朋友的支持,若就此放棄,如何面對他們?此外,「活化廳」的實驗其實才剛打開一點討論,在已建立的基礎和社區網絡下,「活化廳」是否能承接過往經驗再下一乘、深化發展?或許那才是真正見真章。

最後,在差不多要提交計劃書前的一星期,成員內部得出一個決議方案:在現時願意繼續參與的成員上,再加入新的成員,在未來盡快解決「活化廳」的不穩定因素,終極而言,待漸上「軌道」之時,把「活化廳」交到街坊手中,然後我們才離開。於是我、劉建華、阿金等負起了新計劃書的責任,如是者「活化廳」竟又再成功續約。

#繼往開來來來:活化廳延續計劃:

因此在最初十位成員建立的基礎下,「活化廳」在第三年度加入了新一代成員。 而隨著部份舊成員漸漸隱退,開始出現兩代成員交接,我亦從這時接替劉建華(總司令)作為前線營運及活動策劃的負責人(而他的角色為組織負責人)。 新成員大都是以「八十後」為主,經驗相對較淺,但漸漸投入不同想法, 因此,「活化廳」的發展方也漸漸出現轉變。

首先,以實驗為單位的藝術生產模式開始被鬆綁。反而更見成員重視投入時間,主動「落區」接觸街坊,建立社區網絡。比如說,經常出現在前線的成員,比例上增加了,而不是在策劃活動時才出現。街坊與個別成員的關係也較為深度發展,也不限於常常來的街坊。如在附近天台種植的街坊、排檔小販等,也包括區內的社運朋友、藝術家等。另在交往過程得到的知識經驗也隨著「活化廳」作平台深化發展,好些計劃非一次性,而是持續進行。
在行政上,早年的方式是由兩位前線成員全職負責日常事務,其餘的核心成員負責個別的策展項目。但這種分工卻不見得能在新一代成員中順利進行,前線工作及策展實驗很多時都是由不同成員以團隊方式相互協作發生。主題展覽開始慢慢減少,而多是一些藝術行動、工作坊、服務、關係建立等。

另一轉向是其行動主義的手法態度。這或因大部份新成員曾參與社會運動,但我認為這其實也是一個有關「有效性」和是否對自己真誠的反思。正如前所說,新成員大多有更深耕社區的傾向,其實正因過往以碰撞式手法的溝通只是第一步,特別是當街坊對「活化廳」已建立一定信任,如何進一步讓理念滲透到他們的主動參與和日常生活中?另一方面,現場行動和對話創造的是點對點的接觸,常涉及參與者自行創造意義,而這或更深入到情感生命,造成內在的轉變,而較不是一次性的消費經驗。

#「街坊行動主義」﹣社區/藝術/社運:

因此,在與街坊開始互有往來時,我們如何能感染到他們再走前一步,讓其具自發的行出來表態、參與、甚至作出行動?這一點像是松本哉(Haijime Matsumoto) 的「窮人大作戰」又或柄谷行人(Kojin Karatani)提倡的「理念聯合運動」。社區中本存在一群與我們理念相近的「窮人」,只是我們如何動員大家出來,讓不可見的網絡被再現?此一想法,動員的對象不單止是街坊,也包括參與的藝術家和成員,及至更大的社會。從一小社區至大社會,大社會再回饋小社區,兩者之間的互動。若說行動主義最終指向其實就是各人能直接實踐社會轉變,而這些基礎便在於我們如何建立持續性的地區網絡,並散播到日常生活中。

比如說,《殺到油麻地.地區自救計劃》(Yau Ma Tei Self-Rescue Project)相對初期同樣是回應城市發展議題如《小西九雙年展》(Siu Sai Gual Bananle),前者更見在策展手法上更刻意運用社區參與的元素,將破碎社區關係重塑,從而再粘合起來。比如,對被遷拆檔口的馮畫師與附近社區網絡連結的考究、油麻地的天台種植網絡、又或不停「洗區」派發傳單宣傳「街坊傾計會」(街坊聊天會),策展人幾乎每天駐場收集街坊回應等... 已可見其重點不只是想實驗一些只供欣賞或討論的案例,而是希望重構一個社區,讓理念散佈到街坊,讓並漫延開去。

#邁向主客互融的「社區/藝術」:

然後,在80後成員積極地建立的地區網絡下,「活化廳」開始出現一些有趣的現象,街坊開始一步步「由受眾過渡成主動策劃」,不單向我們提議不同活動,甚至由他們自行策劃,而成員只是協作進行。如今年初,熱心街坊Fred媽忽然籌來兩千元,“資助”我們為她攪一次「新春派飯團」活動。原先,派飯團活動是在2011年平安夜晚策劃的藝術行動,而新春本無此計劃的想法,但在Fred媽的主導下,“感染”了其他成員協助她完成願望。成員在網上發動「你幫我幫佢」行動,網上資源共享平台群組 「oh!yes it’s free」 快速響應,自組團隊合力完成這事,由買材料、製作飯團、分發到社區有需要人士,都由社區自發促成。

在此個案,「社區藝術」的主體有趣地被模糊了,發起行動的不是藝術家單方面,而是街坊自行協調,「活化廳」只是一個促發這種自發能量的平台,讓彼此互有往來,與之前提出的「交個廳俾街坊」其實已開始愈走愈近。然而,在這計劃的半年後,我們以「街坊主導」,而藝術家作為協作的方向,提交新一年度的計劃書,而驚訝地,「藝發局」這次卻拒絕了我們繼續營運此空間,當中央也沒交代具體原因。

#我們如何共同生活?共同藝術?

因此,「活化廳」一下子面臨斷水斷糧的局面,而成員中三人(包括我,方韻芝,葉浩麟)亦選擇留守下來,在沒有資助的情況營運這空間。但若回望三年多以來,「活化廳」到今天還是一個「我們如何共同生活」的實驗,而且一直向外申延,這是她十分可愛的地方。到底我們基於什麼需要在一起?想建立一個怎樣的社區?這些其實很基本的問題,不會是一時三刻的們找到答案,但我們仍向著那想像前進。三年多以來,「活化廳」生產了很多實驗個案,搭建了很多交流,基於很簡單的理由:作為一個藝術家,我如何去多做一點?「活化廳」一開始的實驗方向及至後來更強調社區參與的取向(或其實一直互通),就是想著,藝術如何能「活」一點的出現?「活」的意思是,更貼近庶民生活,更貼近大眾,順手拈來而不嬌飾造作, 身體力行而不是姿態表述,回到地面,跟街坊用心談,用心聽,其實就是這麼一件事。當然,我想說,藝術家能行出這一步,其實已是十分不容易,也可說並不擅長。但最後,攪一個空間,我還是要問問自己:「你可以去幾盡?」當我們走到現在,街坊與藝術家,各自如十隻手指不同長短,在似乎歧異又相容的生活中,短短三年多時間碰撞磨合,如何共同生活/共同藝術?對我而言,這是「社區藝術」最有意思的難題。


(本文原刊於《逆棲-都市邊緣中的對話與重建》展覽圖錄,部份內容曾略作修改。)

From experimental projects to a community/art space: Woofer Ten

Text: Lee Chun-Fung / Founding Member of Woofer Ten

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Origin: A series of independent “community / art” experiments:

Woofer Ten was not established around a single ideology. Instead, it serves as a rather open platform that sets its focus on addressing certain issues.  Its future is unknown.  By constantly exploring new ideas and making adjustments to existing ones, we try to answer the following questions:  What can this space eventually become? What should it be like? And, how should it be managed?  In the blink of an eye, we have come this far.

The original idea for Woofer Ten came from Ching Chin-Wai when he stumbled across the Shanghai Street Artspace Exhibition Hall Project application posted on the Arts Development Council website.  The council defined it as a space for “community art.”  Thus, he began to explore the field of “community art” through the operation of this space, which  was located in a rapidly developing neighborhood along Shanghai Street in Yau Ma Tei.  Situated in a grassroots community, it was able to conduct its operations through guerilla tactics, while also establishing a base and connections with the surrounding community.  Over the years, artists whose works focused on social and political issues were invited to join the cause .  Woofer Ten was created as a result.

Woofer Ten was never intended as a long-term project at that time.  Rather, it was meant to act as an artist-run space, an experimental project that would last no more than one to two years.  The platform was intended to let artists explore and create community art in a neighborhood setting, while providing an escape for their imagination.  It also opened up a conversation about society, prompting discussion regarding art and its ability to enliven a community.  The premise of the project was based on bilateral communication and sharing.

Community and art in daily life:

The development of Woofer Ten utilized a two-pronged approach.  One consisted of daily operations that catered to the neighborhood.   The other focused on the implementation of experimental art projects.  The former revolved around the notion of a “living room,” which can be thought of as an official institution, as well as a hub where the public and private domains intersect.  The space was decorated into a cozy living room, and featured a sign that read “drop by anytime” next to its entrance.  The space provided amenities like water fountains, a study room, computers, etc.  It successfully blurred the lines between a community center and an art space (a place where art is displayed).  Yet, the most important element to a “living room” is people.

Generally, many themed projects are brought into fruition with such a pretext in mind.  For the exhibition, Few few prize, Many manypraise, artists scavenged the neighborhood to search for something interesting; Mastermind and FungShan Shui Hey ; Faking it focused on political incidents and clashes; 64 Incidents discussed the history of the community and the Tiananmen Square incident. For the See Through Project, artists were invited to display their art, and art was distributed as small gifts for Monthly Jet-so.

Through such an approach, Woofer Ten provided artists with an entrance into a grassroots community.  Neighborhood residents also participated in the dialogue by sharing their perspectives.  Each project featured an experimental theme and executed alongside events organized by frontline members. This resulted in an interesting combination.  Human elements also acted as a core theme for the exhibitions.  For example, Mastermind served as a tribute to the local arts and crafts industry.  It not only brought much insight into the industry, but also established a unique dialogue between artisans and artists in an attempt to form a “story.”

From experimental projects to a community art space:

However, just one year after its founding, the Arts Development Council revealed its intention to recover the space.  Woofer Ten found itself facing a tough challenge: should it stick to its original plan or continue its planned development?  After much deliberation, a consensus was reached: members who were willing to continue would work alongside new members to find a solution.  The original plan was for Woofer Ten to be handed over to the community once its operations stabilized.  Only then, would the founding members discontinue their involvement.  In response to this, a few members began to draft a proposal. Thus, Woofer Ten survived.

During the third year, a new generation of members joined Woofer Ten based on a foundation established by the ten founding members.  Most of the new members were born after the 1980s and carried little experience.  Yet, they provided new perspectives.  With these changes to its initial framework, the development of Woofer Ten also steered towards a different direction.

First, Woofer Ten’s experimental format for creating art was loosened.  As a result, members spent more time interacting with the surrounding community, which helped establish a local network.  Member who worked on the front lines also increased, and they did not just show up only when required.  Certain individuals forged deep bonds with the local residents, and their relationship with the community became even more significant.  Those who became involved included rooftop gardeners, street vendors, social activities, and artists.  The experience and knowledge obtained from these newly formed relationships helped Woofer Ten deepen its roots as a platform.  Many of its projects continued previous themes.

Another change included an increased interest in activism.  This can be attributed to the new members who were already deeply involved in social activism.  However, I think this change is more attributed to “effectiveness”, and serves as a sincere reflection of itself.  As mentioned previously, most of the new members showed a tendency and desire to cultivate the local community.  In fact, the previous trial and error approach was just a start.  When Woofer Ten became established in the community, it had to figure out how to become a part of the daily life of local residents.  On another end, on-site events and exchange helped establish many connections.  Participants often became involved in the creative process, which led to a deeper impact on life as well as internal change.  Its events served as more than a mere single consumer experience.  

Neighborhood Activism - Art, Politics, and Social Action

During its interaction with the community, can we sense that Woofer Ten has been able to improve its operations, while increasing the amount of declaration, participation, and even action?  This is like Hajime Matsumoto’s The Poor Strike Back or Kojin Karatani’s proposal of the Association movement idea.  Within a community, there exists a group of “poor people” who share ideas similar to ours.  However, the question becomes: how do we mobilize everyone so that we can materialize this invisible network?  This idea might be not to limit the object of mobilization to the streets, but should also include participating artists, members, and even society at large.  From one small community to the larger society and back - this is the interaction between the two.  As a result, when one mentions activism, it is actually referring to how a person directly implements social change.  And, these are based on how we establish a sustainable regional network that can be spread into daily life.

For example, as compared to the earlier MiniWest Kowloon Biennial, which also served as a response to urban development issues, the Yau Ma Tei Self-Rescue Project & Demonstration Exhibition deliberately attempts to reshape and reconnect broken community relations.  An example is Mr. Feng, a painter who had his stall removed.  The exhibition also explored the community networks of the neighborhood, the rooftop gardens of Yau Ma Tei, and the non-stop bombardment of pamphlets that led to a situation in which the community formed an organized resistance.  The curators visited every corner of the neighborhood to gauge public opinion.  The purpose was not to produce case studies for the sake of enjoyment or discussion.   Rather, it was intended as a means to restructure a community, and spread such ideals to all corners of the neighborhood. 

Fusion of subjectivity and objectivity in community/art

On the foundation of a region actively constructed by members, some interesting phenomena began to appear at Woofer Ten.  Members of the neighborhood gradually began to take initiative in planning. They not only started to propose various events to us, but also planned activities on their own. Members only provided assistance. 

Interestingly enough, the subject of community became blurred because the artist no longer held the ultimate authority.  Instead, the members of the neighborhood began to take over the entire business.  Woofer Ten became a platform to spark this spontaneous energy of the community.  This also reflected the foundation for establishing a certain community network and developing a possibility for mutual sharing in a local gift economy.  In truth, this actually split from the previously proposal of being a “hall that served the neighborhood.”  As a result, under the guidance of new members, we followed the lead of the neighborhood a few months ago.  With artists helping in providing a direction, they proposed a new year plan.  Surprisingly, the Arts Development Council stated that there was “not enough diversity” as an excuse to stop our operation of this space.

How do we live and create art together?

In any case, we have to find the cause behind this.  If Woofer Ten was still an influential “community” experiment like it was three years ago, then that would be rather charming.  What makes us stay together?  What kind of community do we want to create?  These are not questions that can be answered without further deliberation.  Nevertheless, we strive to achieve a splendid ideal.  Since its inception three years ago, Woofer Ten has dared to experiment, creating many platforms along the way.  This is based on a very simple premise: I am an artist and an ordinary human being.  What can I do to make myself useful?

Either inspired by Woofer Ten’s initial experimental approach or its later focus on daily life, we always strive to approach the creative process with a bit more “liveliness.”  In this context, “liveliness” means art that lies close to the lives of ordinary people.  The result is engaging and unpretentious artworks.  Instead of making bold statements, we practice what we preach.  We engage communities with sincerity and listen to the voices of the residents.  It is as simple as that.  Of course, I want to say that this is already a big feat for an artist because it is not in their nature to do so.  In the end, I have to ask myself, “For whom am I doing this?”  Up until now, the neighborhood and the artists, each with their strengths and weaknesses, live together and share values that are both similar and different.  Over the course of three short years, how does one continue to live and create art together from now on?  For me, this is the most interesting aspect of community art, yet also the toughest question that needs to be addressed.

This article is originally published in the Publication of〈Reverse Niche – Dialogue and Rebuilding at the City's Edge〉in 2013