從活化廳爭議到將臨的「社區藝術時代」

文:黃宇軒
文題的「活化廳爭議」,是指位處香港油麻地的「上海街視藝空間」過去四年的營運團隊「活化廳」,不獲香港藝術發展局續約,而團隊幾位年輕卻已「身經百戰」的藝術家組成「繼續工作小組」,留守在該單位,換取跟當局交涉的空間,並藉此開拓公共領域中就公共藝術資源、社區藝術發展等議題的討論,同時向當局施壓。活化廳的未來仍是未知之素,不論該單位最終是否依從政策規定易手、不論活化廳是否要易地「再戰」,相信香港藝文界或是油麻地這個老區的街坊,在未來一段時間都無法輕易改口,不稱該址為活化廳——這三個字不僅指涉2009 – 2013在該地營運的文化空間,它更深深地植入了香港人的意識,告訴大眾「社區藝術可以是這樣的」。
活化廳所作的是地方營造的工程,它銘刻在人們意識中的油麻地地圖,因它通過當代藝術的媒介,將一個地鋪轉化成社區生態的核心部份。它對社區產生的影響,主要體現在為鄰里街坊充權,讓他們習慣流連在這「藝術空間」,並相信那地方是彼此解決問題的交流中心。舉例來說,他們辦街坊唱片珍藏展,讓居民的文化生活成為焦點、讓駐場藝術家辦油麻地運動會,用羅漢果來打平民高爾夫;「你肯學,我敢教」工作坊則讓傳統技藝和藝術技能的交流,成為社群交流的話題。這類當代藝術介入,既開始破除原有對社區藝術的保守想像,亦讓油麻地社群漸累積起跨階層的批判性創意力量。「繼續工作小組」在2013年12月24日辦「活化墟」,在平安夜整個城市消費情緒最高漲之際,讓街坊在街道同樂,不以買賣而以「禮物經濟」的形式將油麻地內外的人聚在一起交換物件與生活見聞,正正體現了活化廳幾年下來所開拓的不僅是社區凝聚力和「一般人」的創意,更以社區為主體推動更宏大的社會改革願景。正因它所展示的文化願景深為跨階層的文化工作者認同,自活化廳宣佈失去單位經營權,它一直在積累政治能量,媒體與大眾均在觀望,活化廳的去留之外,這次爭議能否一併把事件潛藏的公共藝術發展問題提升為有關部門無法再迴避的改革導火線。
第一重問題,是現存制度與「社區藝術」的斷裂,亦關乎到社區藝術在這城市的未來。香港藝術發展局每年可分配、來自稅收的藝術資源,總數微乎其微,佔去香港公共資源不及0.0001%,約四千萬港元,卻耗去大部份民間藝術的行政時間,撰寫計劃書去爭逐。活化廳競逐的資源,雖不屬這部份的定額資助,卻也是僧多粥少的藝發局空間資源,比金錢來得更「搶手」。有關社區藝術與資源分配的爭議,最簡單的呈現,在於持續地面向公眾的社區藝術,應與其他活動有不一樣的時間觀:活化廳中人多次強調,兩年一度開放競逐的資源,不論是空間還是金錢,均與社區藝術強調沉澱累積、可持續發展的理念不乎。曾為藝發局當評審的藝術家林東鵬就提出,「上海街視藝空間」公開招請營運者,應給予對方五年時間發揮,不然像活化廳般,用了兩個兩年的時間(還要在中途花心神再競投) ,才剛開始建立了緊密的社區網絡和信任,就要將辛苦築就的平台拱手相讓了。然而藝評人楊天帥也曾提出,在現有的官僚視角下,無論牽涉的是否社區藝術,對官方單位而言都是個分配公共資源的機制,故在公平原則下,似乎難以動搖應用於所有資源分配的競爭法則。如何可以融和社區藝術需要長時間建立基礎的特質和開放公共資源讓更多藝術工作者參與嘗試的原則,似乎是個不易消解的問題。
除了如活化廳所言,資源本來並非緊拙得需要不斷競逐(他們指出,藝發局在油麻地本來擁有的空間就不止一處) 、而競爭不必每兩年進行一次外,筆者希望指出競爭機制如何運作,仍是異常重要的改革考量。如果社區藝術及其公共性確與其他消費性的藝術生產差異甚大,判定藝術機構能否獲得資源的過程,是否也應有其特殊性?一般呈交計劃書、然後待評審挑選的競爭機制,變相鼓勵藝團交出別樹一格,與此前經營者不一樣的發展藍圖。然而,如果社區藝術著重的是鄰里與該區居民累積中的社群聯繫,所謂的競爭就不應僅為潛在經營者的創意和藍圖,而是它讓現存生態得以延續的計劃。就此而言,社區藝術空間更換經營者,應讓新舊團體有交接期,同時也應把評審過程中就「與社區連繫」的部份,如何衡量,詳盡公開。現今引來活化廳強烈不滿的,就正是當局應用一般藝術評審所用的慣例,不願公開評核過程,唯社區藝術之公共,理應讓這特殊部份的評審準則用變成公共商討的領域。
評審社區藝術的準則若被重新制度化,且進入公共領域的討論,就能牽引到更重要的問題:為何活化廳如此成功的運作模式,以及它對香港公共文化的助益,只能單單通過藝術資源分配機制來實現?有趣是,這一點,正好由本來將接手營運上海街視藝空間的香港資深藝術家莫昭如(社區文化發展中心的創辦人),在一篇支持活化廳留守運動的文章提出。筆者在此將他的觀點重述與延伸:如果社群藝術所提供的,其實是公共服務和公民教育,它實是在補足國家和公共部門的不足與文化偏食。如此,像活化廳這種在香港可謂「革命性」和例外的藝術單位,不應再被視為例外,它該是在城市裡遍地開花的藝術實踐:香港所有的公共藝術資源,應有一大部份,投給像活化廳這種對社區有使命感的藝行者。若說活化廳已有了四年機會去營運,不如反過來說藝術發展局及政府其他部門也應有四年(他們錯過了的時間) ,去以活化廳的啟示來更新對公共藝術資源的理解。
這就延伸到更重要的問題:如果活化廳模式應重新定義「藝術資源如何用得其所」,它更深遠的啟發或許是,「一切公共資源如何用得其所」。就如莫昭如所言,傳統上社會福利組織、政黨、居民組織、教育團體,奪去了百份之九十九介入社區的公共資源(甚至是藝術資源!)。活化廳藝術家身體力行的是,他們如何用藝術作為方法,取代這些早已死氣沉沉的社區持份者,點出了更宏大的社區營造該如何前行。就如年前當香港出現成立文化局的討論時,資深文化倡議者黃英琦提出,最重要的是讓政府明白文化不僅是文化,它要有與其他領域平起平坐的地位,因房屋、教育、土地、科技等也在跟文化互碰。活化廳也告訴我們,社區藝術不僅是藝術,它重新定義了何謂有效地介入與連繫社區,而且如何持續而有創意地前行。若認知到這點,活化廳就不可能僅是上海街視藝空間的前度經營者,藝發局與留守小組談判時,也許就能看到更多該踏出的前路。現今完全自外於藝術市場,由藝術家經營的先鋒藝術空間,在香港已近乎缺席,活化廳的前路,也是這城市藝術消費急促膨脹下,自主藝術生產的前路。
有關活化廳工作的詳情:
主場新聞:「公共藝術:活化廳的案例」
http://thehousenews.com/art/%E5%85%AC%E5%85%B1%E8%97%9D%E8%A1%93-%E6%B4%BB%E5%8C%96%E5%BB%B3%E7%9A%84%E6%A1%88%E4%BE%8B/

FROM THE WOOFER TEN DEBATE TO THE COMING OF THE COMMUNITY ART ERA

http://leapleapleap.com/2014/03/from-the-woofer-ten-debate-to-the-coming-of-the-community-art-era/

Post in: Institutional Critique Posts | March 10 , 2014 | Tag in: LEAP 25 | TEXT : Sampson Yu-hin Wong

WITH THE FUTURE of Woofer Ten still yet uncertain, several young yet experienced artist members of the space have created the Woofer Ten Continuous Working Team that will keep vigilance of the venue, buy time for further negotiation with the Council, and hold a series of discussions regarding community art resources and development. Whether Woofer Ten will ultimately be terminated or remain at its current space, Woofer Ten will be continually be brought up by Hong Kong’s cultural community and the Yai Ma Tei residents. Woofer Ten not only represents a local cultural space that existed from 2009-2013, it also deeply impacted the consciousness of the Hong Kong people by telling the crowds, “This is the potential of community arts.”
Woofer Ten is a community building operation. For Hong Kong people, it represents an alternative map of the Yau Ma Tei area. Over the past several years, the art space has become a core part of the community’s habitat via contemporary art. As a regular gathering place for residents to exchange their thoughts and resolve community issues, Woofer Ten has generated community empowerment. Woofer Ten’s art program, on the other hand, focuses on local community culture. In the past, it has held many activities, including a community record collection exhibition; Yau Ma Tei Sports Day, which involved playing golf with Buddha fruit; “You Dare Learn, I Dare Teach” workshop, which involved an exchange between traditional craft and artmaking skills. Such community art activities gradually dispelled the conservative imaginations of “community art” and encouraged a local creative power that surpasses the order of social class.
On December 24, 2013, the Woofer Ten Continuous Working Team organized the event “Woofer Ten Remains.” While the rest of the city was immersed in high consumerist desires on this Christmas Eve, the event gathered residents of Yau Ma Tei and other areas for an exchange of objects and news. Such a gathering demonstrated Woofer Ten’s efforts to not only excavate the creative power of the community and “ordinary residents,” but to also mobilize a grander vision of social reform through the subject of community. This vision surpasses class order and resonates amongst local cultural workers. Woofer Ten’s announcement of its loss of tenancy has attracted much media attention and has accumulated much political potential. The issue now lies beyond whether Woofer Ten may regain its tenancy; Woofer Ten’s case inspires a re-examination of current community art development and pushes the relevant government bodies towards policy reform.
Mr. Hsu, director of the “Idyllic Shanghai Street” movement, demonstrates his kung fu skills
Mr. Hsu, director of the “Idyllic Shanghai Street” movement, demonstrates his kung fu skills
The Woofer Ten issue highlights a serious gap between Hong Kong’s current cultural system and the need for community art. What is at stake here is the future of community art in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Arts Development Council annually distributes art resources sustained by its tax income. The total of this art budget is approximately HKD 40 million, which is less than 0.0001% of public resources. Although all local art groups are welcome to apply for these resources, the application process is tedious and requires a considerable amount of writing and administrative time on behalf of the applicant. While Woofer Ten’s application for continual tenancy is not relevant to this grant system, the application for use of government-owned spaces is even more competitive. Compared to other fields of art, community art requires sustainable presence in the targeted community. The members of Woofer Ten have continually reiterated that the biannual tenancy and grant applications conflict with the concept of sustainable cultural development. Lam Tung Pung, artist and former juror for the application process, proposed that the Shanghai Street Artspace program should offer five-year tenancy contracts. In the past four years, Woofer Ten has built a close community network and gained trust amongst the Yau Ma Tei residents. Now with this solid foundation, they are forced to relinquish all they have accomplished.
If the focus of community arts lies on a long-term relation with the community residents, the competition for government support should not rest upon an assessment of the creativity and agenda of each applying organization. Instead, the government should encourage projects that augment the pre-existing cultural habitat. To this aim, a transitional stage between the new and old winner of tenancy should be installed, along with more transparent criteria for community engagement. A critical reason for the public dismay at Woofer Ten’s loss of tenancy lies in the opacity of the jury process. Decisions on community art should be determined by a more open public discussion.
While government policies for community art require reassessment, wider issues of public space must also be explored. How is it that Woofer Ten, considering its successful operation model and contributions to Hong Kong’s public culture, must rely on the government distribution of art resources? Artist Mok Chiuyu (Center for Community Culture Development founder, and recipient of this year’s contract for the Shanghai Street Artspace) touches upon this question in an article that supports the occupation program run by the Woofer Ten Continuous Working Team. He notes that if the community arts offer public service and education, it thus serves as a supplement to the insufficiency and cultural bias of the government and its public departments. Woofer Ten should remain, as an exceptional and revolutionary art organization; it should be a citywide movement of artistic practice. A huge portion of Hong Kong’s public art resources should be devoted to supporting visionary cultural workers such as those of Woofer Ten. Over Woofer Ten’s four years of operation, the Arts Development Council missed their opportunity to observe the organization and subsequently reform its understanding of public art resource distribution.
If Woofer Ten is an exemplary model of how art resources can be best used, its recent predicament also inspires discussions on how public resources can be best used. As Mok Chiuyu has said, social welfare organizations, political parties, residential groups, and educational associations have traditionally taken 99% of communities’ public resources (including art resources). Woofer Ten has not only demonstrated a way of using art to revitalize community culture, but also to revitalize community building on a greater level. It has exemplified an efficient engagement with the community, as a sustainable and creative operational model. Recognition of these contributions would provide greater possibilities for negotiations between Woofer Ten and the Arts Development Council. Currently, there are almost no artist-run, non-profit art spaces in Hong Kong. In the future of Woofer Ten lies the potential of independent art production in a city that is experiencing a boom in art’s consumption.

亂來,也就管不了- 試用福柯的管治分析看日本「素人之亂」

// 黃津珏


上圖為「活化廳」舉辦的「流動酒吧大作戰」,倣效素人之亂,流動派發自家 釀製的啤酒。出席活動的包括台灣、韓國和日本朋友。

前言

年初,資深劇場人 何應豐的藝術工作室「何必。館」與「天邊外」劇團聯手策 劃了一系列以探討青年起動和民間自主藝行(artivist)的講座及研討會,叫作 《藝文化。生活觀二:我有我藝行!》,名字十分帥氣。我應邀出席了其中以 「自由民間藝行的社會意義」為題的一場討論,其中一位講者是菜園村生活館 「館長」李俊妮。在「反高鐵、護菜園」的運動當中,李俊妮出了不少力,後 來她與村民熟絡了,現在過著所謂「半農半X」的生活。1討論當中,有這麼一 番話令我反覆思考:「作為社會運動員,現在社會有太多議題發生,大家都忙 於作出反應,耗盡所有精力......有一個話劇,講述一位革命家,天生是反抗的材 料,後來政權真的被反了,他竟然不知怎麼辦,因為他懂的只有反,卻不懂得 建設。」

事隔半年,油麻地社區藝術組織「活化廳」倣效世界各國首腦的「定期吹水活 動」,試著為亞洲不同藝術行動者建立交流,亦辦了一場會議,會議原本稱之 為「東亞貧窮藝術家高峰會」,後來命名為「東亞諸眾峰會:『革命後之世 界』」。以「革命後之世界」為主題,概念源自「素人之亂」的頭目松本哉的 口頭禪:「讓我們先創造出革命之後的世界!」。

這次會議,邀請了不同地方的藝行策劃者出席,包括台灣的直走咖啡(以咖啡 店作為醞釀社會運動的基地,又或營運咖啡店作為運動的實踐。)直走咖啡以 共治的方式經營,並以盈餘籌辨活動,接連「消費──參與」的關係。咖啡店的 營運團隊「rules」過去曾出版過刊物,參與帳篷劇製作,及至策劃諾努客 (No-Nuke)文化行動團隊等,挑戰既定社會運動的想像及發展不同結盟的可 能;武漢的「我們家」:青年自治實驗室,位於武漢一個因城市化而將消失的 城郊村,於二零零八年秋由三位武漢居民成立,將一座私人住宅轉變成對外開 放的半公共的自治空間,藉由橫向直接民主的企圖、日常生活的實踐和討論, 以及與公共事件的連接與介入,嘗試探索與理解「共」以及其他替代性生活方 式的可能性;南韓釜山的 Indie Culture Network AGIT(下簡稱 AGIT),一 群致力推動在地獨立藝術創作與及對外交流的釜山藝術家/音樂人的藝術組織。 二零零三年,他們把釜山一個廢棄的幼稚園活化成一個藝術家的自主空間,為 藝術家提供免費的錄音室、樂隊練習室、工作室、表演場地,還有一個幾乎每 晚有不同藝術家來喝酒的大廳。AGIT 關心釜山在地獨立創作生態,如獨立音樂, 街頭藝術,獨立電影以及各類型的街頭文化等等,他們亦不時策劃各類型展覽、 音樂會、交流工作坊及藝術家駐場計劃等。與此同時,作為釜山的活躍分子, 他們經常到各個抗爭現場,舉辦各類型的街頭音樂會,漸漸發展出釜山一片獨 特的音樂生態;與及日本抗爭組織「素人之亂」,一個大本營在東京高圓寺的 社群網絡。「素人」即業餘者又或指平凡人,「素人之亂」便即是「業餘搗蛋 集團」。相對於一般政黨和工會的「專業」示威手法,「素人之亂」以最令人 摸不著頭腦和不合章法的手段,引發別具想像的抗爭。「素人之亂」也是一群 拒絕在大企業工作的年青人所組成的小店網絡,當中包括舊貨店、二手衣服店、酒吧、咖啡室、食堂,及至音樂會派對場地等,他們以小店的經營方式實踐自 主生活的態度,成員更在日本各地不斷擴散中。

由於本人在釜山的 AGIT 待過一段時間,認識到這群在東亞最危險的人士,在 他們來港的時候幫忙接待,也在高峰會當中當過回應人。這段期間,在課堂當 中接觸到福柯理論,本文嘗試以福柯對規訓管治的分析方法,重新觀察「素人 之亂」有趣的抗爭方式。

管治/治理術(Governmentality)
「福柯卻認為,權力是建設性的,現代權力不是在破壞,而是在建設,特別是 培育和型塑現代個體。」 2 想到治理(govern),很容易就會想像是從上而下, 以最高統治集團(hierarchy)的方式出現。這樣的想像會使人單純地認為管治 集團是內聚的核心系統,與被管治者二元對立,也會把管治看成只是資本主義 生產關係申延而成的功能。治理術是傅柯後期研究中的重要概念,它是一種將 被治理者塑造成「良好公民」的手段,以及在行使這些手段時所需動員的一切 機構、知識、意識形態的整合。治理術作為一種權力體系時,我會稱之為「治 理體」,而當討論側重於這治理體內的運作時,則稱為治理術。

傅柯以船作比喻,船長(治理集團)並不是船員(被治理者)的僕人;船員也 不是船長的奴隸。船長需要指出航線及目的地(治理目標),並讓船員自願地 參與船的操作。只要雙方都能繼續保持這種運作模式,船內的人,那管最後能 否到達目的地,也能繼續以這種權力關係繼續航行,而「繼續航行」則是船最 基本目標。5航行到哪兒,那就是可以以共識(consent)打造的方向:可以是 保持道德、經濟發展、改善民生、建設社會等。如果沒有這些目標,治理機構 也沒有了存在的原因,整個以治理體為權力模式的體系也不能運作。
被治理者的行為也就是被管理的對象。由於人的行為會按人與人、人與事、人 與物的理解而改變,因此治理機構所治理的,其實是這些人及他們與事和物所 構成的複合體。6治理這動作的主要內容是要向被治理者提出:「我們要按照怎 樣的操守,怎樣去理解世界,才能達致目標。」而怎樣去說服被治理者去按該 操守行事則成了治理機構的重任。這就是傅柯所謂的「對行為的引導」(The Conduct of Conduct)。7


搗蛋生活的抗爭──素人之亂

戰後日本所打造的國民「美德」包括守規守法、極強的忍耐力、勤力、專業、 自我犧牲、怕影響別人、把個人情感隱藏、努力爭取階級的上移動力(upward mobility)、以國家/社會利益先行等等。這些情操在「三一一核電災難」當 中更再次被重提,被強化。
剛剛滿三十八歲的松本哉是個與日本主流價值全然不同的人,和許多人一樣, 從大學時代開始懂得「反抗」,他試過抗議學校餐廳的食物份量少,質素差, 亦試過在校區內販售自製啤酒。二零零一年,其學校高層與商人想把大學從 「學生可以自由學習、研究、自主活動的場所」變成「企業的即戰力養成所」, 松本哉把握企業高層來校開會的機會,動員二十多人衝進會議廳,翻桌子,潑 油漆、拿起滅火器亂噴,還拿噴漆向一位爬在地上的重要人物,噴上「犬」字, 結果被警察拉進了拘留所。

離開校園後,他在東京杉並區高圓寺的北中通經營一間名為「素人之亂」的二 手衣和電器買賣店,藉此分享彼此擁有的東西,逐漸形成一個貧者的關係網絡。 二零零六年起,松本哉發動各種行動,反抗一些與一般人日常生活切身相關的 規定。以反對《電器用品安全法》(DENAE,以 PSE 作標誌)為例,當時日本 政府打算推動這項法案,規定不能繼續生產和製造沒有「PSE」標示的電器產 品。這項法案首先引起部分音樂人的關注,因為一旦法案通過,他們慣常使用的電子產品未來可能無法維修。而這項法案讓松本哉感到很生氣,因為對於窮 人而言,根本不可能隨意購買新的電器,素人之亂在同年的三月發起遊行抗議, 而日本各地也陸續有不同的反對聲音,最後促使日本政府在法案上有所讓步。 對於這些行動,松本哉說:「我們認為,社會被『主流』綁架了,大家都覺得 只有『有名的人』說的話才能相信,這種狀況讓我們感到憤怒,因此才想以 「素人」的姿態弄點東西。」

在松本哉與素人之亂的抗爭方法,不論是在另類生活或是直接行動(direct action)方面,我們也可看到一些重要的異樣意識:

一、堅持貧窮:松本哉明白到資本主義體制於尋找另類生活方式當中是個很巨 大的挑戰:「我們怎麼可以被這麼笨的社會潮流給淹沒了呢......用三十年的 貸款買房,想跑也跑不掉......結果卻發現自己只被當成廉價勞工。」8他花 了大量時間,研究如何保持貧窮的生活方式,在他的著作當中記錄了許多 實際經驗,如乘順風車(Hitch Hike),便宜住宿法,乞食作戰等等。他 有一套不消費主義──「首先,我們必須學習盡量不花錢的生活方式......我 們要學的是足以應付各種危急狀況的求生術。你也能邀請街坊鄰居一起加 入這個行列,這樣大家就能互相支援,生活將更加輕鬆......如果政府想出一 些企圖妨礙我們生活的餿主意,大家還能一起站出來」9而事實上,日本現 正出現提倡「厭惡消費」的年輕人,他們的消費行為完全不同於上一輩日 本人的消費觀。日本名牌產品的銷量驟減,曾在九十年代中期達到頂峰的進口高檔品牌銷量同樣止不住下滑的步伐。根據調查公司「矢野經濟研究 所」的統計數據顯示,高檔品牌的市場規模在一九九六年約達一點九萬億 日元,到二零一一年縮小至七千七百億日元。由於市場縮小,義大利品牌 范思哲(Versace)撤出日本市場,古琦(Gucci)也關閉了東京銀座的零 售店。出售名牌服裝和化粧品的百貨商場的市場規模也在持續縮小。10

二、懶散:亞洲地區多以勤快的勞動人口為優勢,當中尤其以日本為甚。從網 絡上的「各國白領生存狀態調查」中可見,日本白領工作時間最長。11如 果在日本過得散漫,相信那是個最大的次文化。而高圓寺有著甚麼特別的 文化呢?松本哉說高圓寺一帶的租金比較便宜,許多外地來的青年會選擇 在此租房子,很多玩劇團、玩音樂或各種不務正業的年輕人都會在這區活 動。區內的年輕人都不太花時間工作,平日很無聊,游手好閒,或做一些 不掙錢的工作。但正因為這樣,社會運動的動員能力便相當高,若要製作 宣傳、拍錄像、辦音樂會等,很多人也可以參與。

三、不專業:素人之亂顧名思義就是平凡人的作亂,這也是他們行動的一貫號 召:「所有的窮人、尼特族 12 、飛特族 13 、無用之人,一起站出來吧!」日本社會行動研究者樋口拓朗分析日本青年抗爭的趨勢和受僱狀態顯著相 關,「一九六八年前後是日本學運的高峰期,然後隨著經濟增長,多數人 相信政府能給我們更好的生活,因此在八十年代時幾乎沒有青年抗爭。九 十年代後政府鼓勵非正式僱用,以致一九九五年後區分出兩種人,一種相 信努力工作,有朝一日能把非正式變為正式工作;另一種則不相信政府和 企業能保障自己,於是這些人逐漸累積反抗能量。二零零零年後,青年抗 爭運動再度興起。」而所謂素人之亂的分店,其實並沒有管制,松本哉平 日打理的只有第五號二手店,其他號數的分店是隨意開張的。

四、再次連接社區關係:不管是二手店的買、賣還是送貨,松本哉都親力親為, 因此與顧客的關係也會親密起來。他的著作中有大量篇幅探討社區關係的 「街坊大作戰」,有許多小社區自治、可持續發展的有趣實驗。
五、反核運動:福島核災後東京有過幾次大型的反核遊行,就規模以及參與的 民眾而言,都與過去反核電廠示威有著截然不同的面貌。二零一一年四月 十日東京高圓寺的反核遊行,像是一場盛大的派對,不僅有唱片騎師與樂 團在配備音響喇叭的卡車上演出,許多知名藝人也來到現場聲援。這場遊 行吸引超過一萬五千人參與,其中大多數都是第一次參與遊行的年輕人。 遊行背後主要的籌劃人是松本哉。反核運動,包含著建設未來社區空間的 想像。

總結──反抗的反思

資深社會工作者謝柏齊說過,以往的社會運動多從負能量產生,比方說對貧窮 的同情,所以要「扶」貧,因此大眾並不能接受領取綜援人士出外旅遊或到外 用餐消費。在「東亞諸眾峰會:『革命後之世界』」的會議中,我看到不同文 化行動組織都生產出與以往回應式或負能量不同的份子,當中快樂的原素佔了 很重要的地位。

以松本哉的動員能力,應該會有許多政黨對他虎視眈眈,他說:「我也有朋友 加入了政黨,相信在裏面能夠有一定影響力。我覺得每個人選擇一種最適合自 己的抗爭方式是很重要的,以我性格,現在的方式就已經很好了。」從福柯的論述,我們看到規訓權力與管治術的存在方式,有如無形的共生物, 不知怎抵抗。但這樣反而能整理對最高權力搶奪過來的虛妄想像,而每人在每 個崗位也有抵抗的力量。忽然想到甘浩望神父,他在抗爭場合彈著結他,唱著 歌,結他上面有著郭達年寫上的「堅持到底」。這個「底」字,百般滋味,似 重,也不太重。

---
1 日本人塩見直紀發表《半農半 X 的生活:順從自然,實踐天賦》一書之後,半農半 X 的概念 在日本及台灣近年多有所聞。
2 劉永謀, 2009
“An analysis of government, by contrast, assumes that discourses on government are an integral part of the workings of government rather than simply a means of its legitimation, that government is accomplished through multiple actors and agencies rather than a centralized set of state apparatuses, and that we must reject any a priori distribution and divisions of power and authority.”3
上文中「workings」這字有很重要的意味,如果以福柯想像抵抗與權力關係 「where there is power, where there is resistance」,即是抵抗並非搶奪權 力中心,取代治理集團的運動,而可以看成令管治法「不生效」(not working)。
「治理一艘船意味著什麽?很清楚,它意味著你不光要對這些船員負責,你還 要對船舶及貨物負責;照料一艘船還意味著你要認真考慮風暴和礁石;照料一 艘船就是這樣的活動,這種活動要在需要照料的船員和需要照料的船舶之間, 要在需要安全 運抵港口的貨物和所有這些不測(風暴、礁石等等)之間,建立 起一種關係;這就是治理一艘船的特點。」4
3 Dean p.26
4 傅柯,1978
98
5 羅冠軒:〈有關傅柯 Governmentality 的幾(自)問幾(自)答〉。文化研究@嶺南,第二十 四期,2011。
6 傅柯,1978
7 Foucault,1991, 頁 48
8 松本哉:《素人之亂:日本抗議天王寫給 22K 崩世代的生存乎秘笈!》
9 松本哉:《素人之亂:日本抗議天王寫給 22K 崩世代的生存秘笈!─序》10 日經中文網:〈日本新一代消費觀:不購物〉: http://zh.cn.nikkei.com/columnviewpoint/column/2058-20120411.html?limitstart=0 11 新浪網:http://financenews.sina.com/sinacn/000-000-107-116/603/2010-01- 14/20181283214.html
12尼特族:NEET,Not In Employment, Education or Training 13飛特族:Freeter,即散工。

20140227 - 攤開嚟講 《活化廳》—從社區空間到人民空間


“No Outside” for Socially Engaged Art Practices? The Reception of the Aesthetic Regime of Art and Its Frequent Malfunctions in Hong Kong


Frank Vigneron

Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art; Jul/Aug2013, Vol. 12 Issue 4


No Outside For Art Making

During a roundtable titled Whose History? (organized by the Asia Art Archive during ARTHK12 on May 17, 2012), Marian Pastor Roces, a critic and independent curator from the Philippines, gave a paper on the limits of art history and how a certain tradition of this discipline—a history dominated by “period styles” that, as early as the 1970s, began to come under criticism—cannot be used to make sense of recent developments within the field of visual art. Roces emphasized that artists need to be fully engaged in the context of what she termed “the structures of power"; she argued that there is “no outside position” and that “radicalism must be waged within.”1 The idea of such engagement has been an important part of many art practices since the origins of conceptual art in Euro-America in the late 1960s and, particularly, in the origins of institutional critique. It is true that present-day artists can find their place anywhere, and their art practices are often “delocated”—that is, they are made just as much for the art gallery and the museum as for the World Wide Web, the street, the shopping mall, or the most remote locations outside of urban spaces.

During the same roundtable, Manuel Borja-Villel, director of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, in Madrid, told the audience an anecdote taken from his experience in Spain. He described how participants in a workshop organized by the members of the education services of the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía arranged a demonstration against the World Bank. Considering that the participants in that demonstration were working within an event organized by the museum, it was apparently seen by the Spanish mass media as another “art event,” something considered to be, according to Borja-Villel, merely a radical form of tourist attraction. He concluded by saying that “nothing happened” as a result. Mention of this demonstration did not appear in any of the cultural or political sections of Spanish newspaper, but only in those dedicated to fashion and anything perceived as “cool.” When Korean farmers confronted the Hong Kong police during the G7 of 2005, it was presented as political news and a clear sign of the extremely serious degradations of the livelihood of many social groups caused by the savagely neoliberal forms of economic globalization prevalent around the world. When artists coming out of a museum organize a demonstration against the World Bank, it is seen as slightly ridiculous, no matter how personally involved the participants are with these issues. One of the dangers to the reception by the public at large of the idea of a “no outside” for art practices resides precisely in these trivializing representations.

These trivializing representations raise a question concerning the representation of the forms of art practices I will call here “socially engaged.” One of the questions addressed here will be: How can artists engaged in these forms of art escape the effects of trivialization imposed upon them by the traditional mass media, like the printed press and television? Only a certain kind of press would refrain from trivializing such events: the specialized art press that is read by a fairly small portion of the educated population of large urban centres and is not always accessible to a majority of readers, for a multitude of reasons. The other type of press, whose owners seem to believe that only the most simplistic type of entertainment makes for good news, define their action and their usefulness increasingly through the demands of the financial bottom line. With this alternative, it becomes extremely difficult for art practitioners to ask the proper questions about the societies we live in, let alone try to answer these questions, because their practices tend to be misrepresented.

Socially Engaged Art Practices and Trivialization

Are socially engaged art practices systematically trivialized in Hong Kong? Likely not. Hong Kong does not “enjoy” the same kind of newspapers as countries like the UK, in particular, where the tabloid press has been for many decades the source of much trivialization of art practices that do not belong to the innocuous forms of artwork from the past. An example of such trivialization was the front page of the Daily Mirror, in the 1970s, in which a sculpture conceived by the Minimalist artist Carl Andre that consisted of a line of bricks on the floor, was acquired by the Tate Museum for what was then a hefty sum of money. The Daily Mirror described this purchase as an insult to the British taxpayer; the title, in large bold fonts, read “What a Load of Rubbish.” Such insulting statements are seldom so violent in a place like Hong Kong where the outrage would more often be about public display of nudity than about public expenditure felt as excessive. A recent exception to this would be references made by the Hong Kong press to the arrest and prosecution of Ai Weiwei in 2011, but the seriousness of the questions he posed about the state of the mainland Chinese political system and the culture of corruption any one-party system will always generate, as well as the growing ferocity of the mainland Chinese authorities in trying to keep under wrap democratic activism, made of him a topic that can be addressed in seriousness by all media precisely because it did not have to be approached in terms of art practices.

Nevertheless, in Hong Kong there can still be some minor manifestations
of the spirit of trivialization that seems to be very difficult to eradicate. I do not want to criticize The Works, the only television program in Hong Kong dedicated to the arts; all their reports on art activities in the city are of the highest quality, and we must be grateful to Radio Television Hong Kong for dedicating an important part of their resources to this domain (even French television, for instance, is remarkably poor in reporting current events in the arts). But even the producers and reporters of visual art events on The Works are not always entirely free of a certain tendency to trivialize, even if, thankfully, I could recognize only one example of that tendency in one of the reports they made in 2010 about the exhibition City-O-Rama, organized by MAP Office.

With video works representing a wide variety of artists whose work was exhibited in the stalls of street merchants in the SOHO and Central areas of Hong Kong island, MAP Office wanted to engage with a public not usually adept at looking out for these forms of art, creating a form of socially engaged art. They also tried to attract the art crowd—those more likely to haunt the clean air-conditioned spaces of galleries like Gagosian—to environments they are less likely to frequent in the pursuit of experiencing art. The works were not made according to a unifying theme, MAP Office preferring the artists to create their own questions and forms, or even to show older artworks. For example, Compression—Fern (face), made in 1970 by the American artist Denis Oppenheim, was described in the following way: “In this video, the carnivorous human being obliterates a gentle fern delivering a violent message. The interplay between the plant that has been an integral part of the earth’s resources and the homo sapiens who have been a destroyer and consumer is particularly poignant in this violent crushing of the fern. This plain plant is a symbol of all peaceful herbivore species, but the Homo sapiens is destroying every single specimen in its path. Of particular significance is the artist here only using one hand instead of two to illustrate his power against nature.”2 Another American artist, Bill Viola, showed a video made in 1989, which was described by MAP Office this way, “One of Viola’s early videos, Reflecting Pool, explores the apparent static nature of time. The protagonist—the artist—emerges from a dense forest and approaches the edge of a pool. There, he prepares to make a powerful jump but as he stands up in the air, something unexpected happens. For the artist, water is a symbol of life and rebirth, that continues to ripple and undulate after our passage.”3

The Works, generally aired on Tuesday evenings, showed City-O-Rama with the participating artists and curators explaining their positions. One of the stall owners, a lady selling flowers in front of the monitor showing Compression—Fern (face), was also interviewed, and she reacted with a very open and accepting attitude: “I love engaging in such crazy activities. These two artists are mad, so it’s fun. It’s all right if they put the installation here. I can just let my customers watch.”4 The original Cantonese is of course much more animated than the slightly more serious English translation offered in subtitles by the TV show. Obviously, it is important to keep one’s sense of humour, and it is true that this quote was the unselfconscious and endearing reaction of the stall owner, but this brief interview also falls into the tactics of trivialization that the traditional mass media often cannot help reverting to. The use of the term sou—translated as “crazy” in the subtitles—to describe the two artists of MAP Office also can be translated as “odd” or “whacky” in English, and it immediately put the whole project on a level of “fun” that sounded much like the response by the Madrid press to the anti-World Bank demonstration by the Reina Sofía Museum group.

The reaction of the stall owner is also an indication that the cultural representation of the artist in the Hong Kong doxa is still one defined by a certain kind of cultural tradition, one that belongs just as much to the Chinese as to the Euro-American cultures—the artist as not quite right in the head and therefore both amusing and easy to dismiss. From painters like Bada Shanren [Zhu Da] (1626–1705) and Xu Wei (1521–93) to poets like
Li Bai (701–62) and Han Shan (ninth century), the crazed artist is just as familiar to the Chinese as Salvador Dali or Lord Byron is to Euro-Americans. Ai Weiwei could have been dismissed just as easily in this context, but he was not, for the reasons already cited. The reaction of the stall owner, amused and quite clearly unconcerned by the artwork visible in her stall (she actually said that “it doesn’t hurt,” which implies that it doesn’t matter, really), is another, maybe more severe, obstacle to the “no outside” for art practices: if the reception to socially engaged art practices is mild amusement and actual lack of interest, something is not working, not being communicated.

Socially Engaged Art Practices as Dissensus

If the word “education” appears in the context of socially engaged art practices, it often will provoke sighs of disappointment and fatigue. Educating the public about contemporary art practices always seems to be a dead end because the idea of education creates images of interminable hours listening to pontificating teachers. Similarly, this traditional type of education also involves the idea that what is being taught is superior to what the students might already know. In the case of contemporary art, such education is tantamount to saying that other manifestations of culture, like popular music, comic books, or soap operas on TV, are not as good, not as important, and need to give way to “higher” forms of human expression such as contemporary art.
Needless to say, this is the best way to frighten away any culturally curious person and, since we are not talking about traditional forms of education where assessment is essential (as in schools and universities where students need to earn a degree), it might be beneficial to consider other methods like the one explored by Jacques Rancière in The Ignorant Schoolmaster, the idea of universal education. His theory of education is based on a variety of missing links and was first created by the early-nineteenth-century French teacher Joseph Jacotot, who managed to “teach” French to non-French speaking pupils by simply offering them a bilingual edition of François Fénelon’s Télémaque and asking them to compare the two versions. Jacotot’s work was based on the idea—one also defended by Rancière throughout his works—that all people are in possession of equal mental capacities. If we follow Rancière, it would be interesting to argue that Joseph Jacotot’s “universal teaching” would be the best way to make available to more people the possibilities of socially engaged art practices. Based on this idea of universal education, Jacotot, like Joseph Beuys over a century later, believed that anyone could be an artist.
In socially engaged art practices, where presenting the artworks and educating the viewers within the idea of universal education are one and the same, the situations made possible by the artists are sparking something new, something that was not planned in advance by either the artists or the spectators. As we shall see, this is the promise of what Rancière calls the aesthetic regime, as opposed to what he calls the representative regime. While the representative regime relies on inequality—the artist being seen as superior to the spectator and knowing all the implications of meaning in his or her work—the aesthetic regime relies on equality—artists and spectators are equal to the point where the artist does not know how the spectator will interpret the artwork.

This conception of art can be found in what Rancière refers to as “dissensus,” a movement that fragments the community by revealing what had been previously hidden. Dissensus operates on the decisions made by various institutions to include or exclude certain social groups and, therefore, on what can be considered serious or trivial. Dissensus therefore functions on two levels by questioning who counts as a subject worthy of taking part and what is worthy of being talked about.5 In politics, dissensus poses the question about who is competent about what. For instance, the position of traditional art critics and their voice of authority, based on the claimed superiority of their own experience of art, must be revised in disssensus as such assumptions are based on inequality and therefore useless within the project of universal education. Dissensus also questions the limits between the private and the public and always turns exhibition spaces into locations of dispute: this is what happens, for example, when artists and curators decide to avoid the traditional venues for art—the museum or gallery—and try to occupy other sites and circumstances.
Thus, artists who use the space of a gallery in order to integrate it with its surrounding area, or artists who put artworks outside any institutional space are examples of dissensus made to “rupture given relations between things and meanings and, inversely, invent novel relationships between things and meanings that were previously unrelated.”6 Both have political import as long as they have not been trivialized into forms of innocuous entertainment. Because there is “no direct cause-effect relationship . . . between the intention realized in an art performance and a capacity for political subjectivation,”7 there is a need for a degree of mediation between art practices and the majority of spectators, but these mediations need to be made by people who are cognizant of the intent of the artist and of the political implications of such dissensual practices. This is the problem with the non-specialized press, whose writers are generally unprepared to understand these reflections about art as dissensus, even in its most basic form, and who tend to transform everything into the worst kind of consensus, that is, one that does not even attempt to “question the self- evidence of the visible’’8 and forces everyone to accept the political and social status quo even when it goes against the eudemonic ethics generally defended by socially engaged art practices.

In this context, even the latest Christopher Nolan Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises (2012), is presented as something that carries a political message (and if it does, it is a very simplistic one, and it gets even further trivialized by its own commercial context of distribution), while socially engaged art practices are barely positioned at the same level. If artists are thinking and integrating into their practices these reflections, they are unfortunately turned into irrelevant games and emptied of their significance through the kind of superficial reporting that is the only access point made available to those who are not aware of the existence of Rancière’s aesthetic regime. As long as primary and secondary school education remains mainly skill-based and does not address the possibility of art as dissensus, and as long as journalists in the non-specialized press turn these acts into entertainment (thus limiting the importance of art to a descriptive regime and its complete separation with the everyday), then artists will always be represented as working “outside.”

Socially Engaged Art Practices as Stimulus

The “no outside” paradigm is the obvious context for making contemporary art today, just as it is true that art making has become decentered: the old centre(s) of art making have made way for a multiplicity of other situations where the old-fashioned centre/periphery relationship no longer makes any sense. If making art was all that mattered, we could then believe that the aesthetic regime conceived of by Rancière has come into being and is creating a near-utopia of expression and exchange. But art must rely on other vectors for its existence, and it is in the context of showing art, and writing and talking about art, that difficulties emerge that put the “no outside” paradigm into question. Are socially engaged art practitioners working inside the system of art? Probably so, as far as they are concerned— they are convinced of the equality between artist and spectator, but, in this case, the perception of the artwork is also made by institutions that do not accept the notion of equality. The traditional mass media—press and television—still very much rely on the teacher/student relationship that is denounced by Rancière: the journalist “knows,” and the spectator admiringly receives and accepts the information.

It is in this context of passive receivership that the “no outside” paradigm becomes problematic, and one symptom can be found in the frequently haughty tone columnists and journalists without any contemporary art background often take. The solution may reside in the recourse to non-traditional mass media—the blog and cyberspace in general would exemplify this locus of an interactive reception of socially engaged art practices. Unfortunately, the use of non-traditional mass media comes with a whole new range of difficulties that also put into question the “no outside” paradigm. When the traditional mass media trivializes contemporary art practices, like the ones that might fit Rancière’s aesthetic regime, the new non-traditional mass media existing in a network of exchanges is the place where “anything goes,” but often in a fairly negative way. There, in the non-traditional mass media nothing is certain, and if that situation of uncertainty can create very productive forms of misreading, it can also lead to such profound misunderstandings that communication becomes its own worst enemy; the whole difference between creative imagination, positive and productive of new cultural arrangements, on the one hand, and destructive gossip, on the other, can be negative and lead to hatred and silence. But other spaces, like the street and even certain kinds of galleries where the project of undermining institutional stultification is enacted, may be the most efficient way to create the conditions of Rancière and Jacotot’s notion of universal education.
Socially engaged art is generally a part of the universal education and the aesthetic regime. Thus, spectators are left to negotiate meaning with the data provided by the artwork itself, letting it interact with his or her culture, language, and social background. This also allows the possibility of an absence of reaction: if the artwork offers no common ground with the experience of the spectator, as so often happens in a global context when exhibiting art, it is possible that the artwork might not “speak” to the spectator, and this has to be accepted in some cases, but chances are this will not happen very often, since the variants of interpretation are endless.

To look specifically at Hong Kong, the problem is that since art education, especially in secondary schools, is clearly skill-based, very few people are ready to accept the extreme flexibility of perception of the aesthetic regime described earlier. To be able to appreciate socially engaged art, one needs to eschew as much as possible the demands of the representative regime. In the case of the actions by the art collective Wooferten, as we shall see, it would be interesting to know who actually enjoyed these works.
The Wooferten collective, which received funding from the Hong Kong Art Development Council for a year and established itself in the Shanghai Street Artspace in Yau Ma Tei, has made its mission to act in the domain of socially engaged art practices. One of the seven curated exhibitions it has planned for its tenure at the Shanghai Street Artspace was titled Yaumatei Self-Rescue Project and Demonstration Exhibition—the Chinese title is Attacking Yau Ma Tei! Self-Rescue Project and Demonstration Exhibition— was organized in April 2012 and involved a group of young artists who each decided on a strategy to enact the project of the show. On the collective’s Web site, where the names of the founding members are glaringly absent, the Wooferten collective thus describes its mission:

Wooferten is a non-profit art organization funded by Hong Kong Art Development Council. We are based at Shanghai Street Artspace in Yaumatei, an aging grass-root community and neighbourhood. Formed by a group of like-minded artists, curators, critics, researchers, educators, Woofer Ten aims at introducing a lively conception of contemporary art engaging the community. Therefore, instead of attempting an out-of-place white cube arty gallery, Woofer Ten moulds itself more like a community centre, a platform for art projects to explore new approaches in bridging the community and art making. Woofer Ten treasures the participation of our neighbouring community and audiences, and sees its art programs as creative interventions upon our community and society at large. Exhibitions will change from month to month, alongside with plenty of ad hoc activities such as performances, guide tours, workshops, talks, screenings etc., offering the public not just experimental contemporary art and curating, but also art that are close to our everyday life and with social-political relevance.9

The collective adopted “guerilla tactics” to counter the destructive ways used by the large developers in Hong Kong and, in particular, how the government-funded Urban Renewal Authorities often seem to play an active role in the systematic modification—others would say eradication—of the local environment: 

The project named itself “self-rescue” for it proposes to spread a self-help attitude, giving out suggestion to the Kai-fong (neighborhood community) of Yau Ma Tei (as well as beyond), some means to rebel against the blind development now prevailing in Hong Kong.

We encourage the public to not just appreciate, to cherish their community, but also through their action and participation to help preserve all the precious things that constituted the lively district. Our everyday livelihoods are in fact being subjected to more and more control as urban renewal joined hands with developers, allowing giant entrepreneurs sprawling crawls [sic] affecting almost every aspects of our daily lives. We surely do not have any real “weapons” to fight against them, but why not do something and start our resistance with our bare hands?10

One of the four events organized during the Yaumatei Self-Rescue Project and Demonstration Exhibition was the partial reconstruction of the stall of a painter called Mr. Fung who specialized in portrait making, a profession that has all but disappeared in the rest of Hong Kong and is used as an alternative to portrait photography. The street-stall of Mr. Fung that was once located just a block away from Wooferten in Shanghai Street had recently been partially demolished in one of the acts that are often presented as a desire to “clean up” an area of its original inhabitants. The son of the painter lent photos and some of his father’s personal items for the exhibition, and Mr. Fung himself was present at the opening of the exhibition. The desire of the artists involved, and that of Wooferten in particular, was clearly to abolish the traditional limits between artists and the public, high and low culture, and of what Rancière proposes as limitations to the idea of equality.

Emancipation and Outreach Programs

Although they are in my view the most effective solutions for emancipation, punctual actions like the ones created by Wooferten cannot necessarily be sustained since, unfortunately, their funding comes from a government source (the Hong Kong Arts Development Council) and is not likely to continue forever. But punctual actions must continue in a variety of formats and engage a variety of artists and other art collectives whose actions can be compared to the tactics imagined by Michel de Certeau in The Practice of Everyday Life. In de Certeau’s propositions, strategies are formulated and enacted from locations of power and are based on the idea of competition while establishing the boundaries of acceptable practices. Strategies set norms and conventions by working with finite ideas and always aim at conclusive forms. That is the way museums function, for instance, by establishing once and for all what deserves to be seen as art. De Certeau would see the way Wooferten functions as a tactic being used to achieve immediate or short-term aims. They are not enacted in specific locations or institutions and always appear within the gaps of conventional thought and patterns of everyday life.11 It would be unfair to consider the two projects created by M+, the “museum plus” of visual culture for the future Kowloon Cultural District, in Yau Ma Tei, also fall squarely in the category of the strategy. Even though it would be hard to maintain that M+ is not a museum institution—in spite of all its efforts not to fall into that specific rut—with some of its inherent restrictions, its creators are trying to create something else where the possibilities of tactics, like those enacted by small groups like Wooferten, will still be possible.

But what about forms of socially engaged art that seem to belong to both tactics and strategies? Tactics are something conceived and enacted by individuals or very small collectives in the context of very precise and punctual events (the way Wooferten enrolled the inhabitants of a neighbourhood to act against the destruction waged on their streets by big developers in Hong Kong) and strategies, something designed and enacted on a much larger scale by institutions related to the seats of power, like the Hong Kong government. Commissioned by M+ to house Cantonese performance opera, this traditional temporary bamboo theatre, of a type still visible from time to time in other areas of Hong Kong during traditional Chinese festivals (with sometimes theatrical troops performing from outside of Hong Kong), was also the occasion to celebrate other forms of popular culture such as the cinema. This bamboo theatre was constructed by an itinerant Chinese opera troupe the way it had been traditionally made for many decades in Hong Kong, and for centuries on the mainland. Such events, with generally free-of-charge performances, are particularly popular during the Hungry Ghosts Festival around the fifteenth night of the seventh lunar month, generally in August. Local and mainland Chinese troupes are invited by local associations (sometimes of non-Cantonese speaking groups from Fujian or Chaozhou who can thus enjoy Chinese theatre in their own dialects) to perform for the dead and for the living. Because hiring these theatre troupes is getting much more expensive, it is unfortunately a fast disappearing tradition in Hong Kong. The main organizer, the West Kowloon Cultural District authorities, wanted to remind the people of Hong Kong that a theatre dedicated to Chinese opera in all its forms would be a permanent and very prestigious fixture of this area in a few years’ time. It was also the purpose of M+, whose building is supposed to be finished around 2017, to remind the Hong Kong public of its participation in all of what the future West Kowloon Cultural District will have to offer.
As far as the visual arts are concerned, the most obvious mark of M+’s involvement in this operation was to invite such veteran artists as Gaylord Chan, Chu Hing-wah, and Michael Wolf to create new artworks for the occasion. This might actually be a good indication of the sort of activities this institution will be involved in (and already is, albeit as yet without a permanent home): preservation and education about forms of art that are still represented as of interest to a minority in Hong Kong’s population.

More clearly part of a socially engaged practice, Mobile M+ was a project about disseminating artwork in the streets and the easily accessed spaces of Yau Ma Tei that one would generally only be encountered in the pristine rooms of a museum. Closer to the ideas of City-O-Rama, viewers were able to see installations (like the one by Leung Mee-ping) as well as interactive performances like the Pak Sheung-chuen’s. As was the case with City-O- Rama, is exhibiting in the street sufficient to be seen as a socially engaged
art practice and be accepted by social groups generally not interested in contemporary art practices? Probably not. In many ways, these artworks put on display in the streets might even be more confusing for the public unless the curators and/or artists are more explicit, like Pak Sheung-chuen. To address the question of what kind of outreach educational programs could propose, it is important to remember that the main difficulty is not to demean those who would access these programs. The issue here is one of emancipation, to use also the vocabulary of Rancière, and instead of merely providing information, which is necessary to a certain degree, it is more important to awaken in those who generally have no access to any form of contemporary art (and especially socially engaged forms) a form of curiosity that would let them take “possession” of these artworks and art practices. It is, in fact, about encouraging personal interpretation in order to avoid the most common kinds of reactions such as “I don’t know” or “this is stupid.”

Susan Sontag famously and rightly opposed a certain kind of elucidation for artworks in an article titled "Against Interpretation": “The interpreter says, ‘Look don’t you see that X is really—or, really means—A? That Y is really B? That Z is really C’?”12 Unfortunately, her text is far too what I would call “Westernocentrist” and assumes that any artwork can immediately be understood by spectators when they are left alone with their own reception of the work. This position basically assumes that anyone from any cultural background could construct personal interpretations about any artwork; an impossible proposition in a globalized art world where one can encounter artworks and art practices from cultures so different that most of its subtext can remain opaque. In the Mong Kok and West Kowloon districts of Hong Kong, for instance, where the activities of M+ have been increasingly frequent, a large portion of the people who have encountered these art events came in contact with forms of art whose origins can be traced to a multitude of unrelated cultural sources: the national Chinese culture, and the infra-national Hong Kong cultures, but also other forms of national cultures (many of them having Euro-American descent) and supra-national cultures (like “European” or “Asian”). This represents far too rich a field of cultural interaction to be simply taken at face value without losing so much meaning that it becomes so many empty gestures; this situation needs the awakening of certain forms of curiosity.

As long as we expect the public—the people in the street—to possess the kind of formative process art education generally offers nowadays (from primary to secondary school and, I am sorry to say, all the way through tertiary education, the only hope being that postgraduate studies thankfully escapes the traps of such systems), the way art education is practiced in schools and universities will simply reinforce the inequality that makes accepting the forms of socially engaged art we have discussed so difficult. An emancipatory type of education cannot, unfortunately, be found in the specialized press. Anyone who has read magazines like Artforum or Documents sur l’art would know that they are not the kinds of reading anyone can follow, and as much as it would be tempting to rely on Rancière’s notion of equality here, it remains that a certain kind of education, namely, the type one has access to in higher education, is necessary to understand these texts. And even more accessible publications, like Beaux-Arts in France, Art in America, or the many often short-lived publications Hong Kong has known (Muse magazine for instance) require a type of curiosity on the part of readers that is often stifled and superseded by the much more readily available traditional mass media. What is needed, therefore, is more outreach programs, the kinds that exist in between the strategies and tactics that will hopefully offered by institutions like M+, but also more straightforward tactics in the form of actions like Wooferten or Pak Sheung-chuen’s L (this last one also blurring the line between the institutional strategies—this was performed during an M+ curated event—and the personal tactic; this was a performance presented within the larger projects of this artist).

L is an interlinked and multi-part urban intervention, consisting of performance, exhibition, and documentation. As an extension of Pak’s earlier publication 2011()10()24 made up of diary notes and sketches, it questions the role of art in improving everyday life as it mediates between the borders of spirituality, social interaction, and daily living. Throughout the exhibition period, Pak disseminates “artistic gestures” to the public by orchestrating everyday scenarios in the form of: street promotions of self- enhancement courses based on artistic concepts around Temple Street; night classes aimed at “tired white-collar workers”; and collation of ideas from the classes and Pak’s research, promotion and delivery of his creative ideas—in the form of three publications and exhibition in neighborhood shops.”13

As Lars Nitve, executive director of M+, made clear from the outset, this institution would take special care to create outreach programs that will extend the benefits of having access to artists and art that stratum of Hong Kong society generally have not been offered previously. Now that M+ has already established its importance in the region as a museum, thanks to the donation of one of the most important collectors of contemporary Chinese art, Uli Sigg, there is little doubt that it will play an increasingly important role in Hong Kong, China, and the rest of Asia. Currently, it is impossible to know what forms these outreach programs will take. But there is a large measure of hope: with the Sigg donation, M+ already has a solid reputation as a repository of art, and Lars Nitve himself was involved with successful outreach programs during his tenure at Tate Modern in London. In an impressively positive description of the involvement of Tate Modern in outreach, published as part of a report titled Museums & Galleries: Creative Engagement, Ricky Burdett provides a long list of activities designed by this institution. Published in March 2004, the report “uses case studies to illustrate how national museums, libraries, and archives engage in a huge range of innovative activities with different communities across the UK, from business and science to youth and fashion.”14 These kinds of action go far beyond the simple act of education. Whether this can truly be put in place in Hong Kong, and whether it will leave as much leeway as possible for the emancipation of the public at large, will be in great part the responsibility of the main funding institution; that is, the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority and, behind it, the Hong Kong government itself.

Notes
. 1  Available for viewing on the site of the Asia Art Archive, the roundtable was organized at the occasion of ART HK 2012. The speakers were Manuel Borja-Villel Director, Museo Nacional Centro
de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Iftikhar Dadi Associate Professor and Department Chair, Department
of Art, Cornell University, New York; and Marian Pastor Roces, critic and independent curator, The Philippines. The moderator was Reiko Tomii, independent scholar and co-founder of PoNJA-GenKon, New York. This talk was held on May 17, 2012. see http://www.aaa.org.hk/Collection/CollectionOnline/ SpecialCollectionItem/3320/. 
. 2  MAP Office (2010) City-O-Rama, press release for the exhibition at 10 Chancery Lane gallery, November 4–November 20, 2010, www.10chancerylanegallery.com/exhibitions/catalog/2010/ CityORama/press_release/. 
. 3  Ibid. 
. 4  The Works, aired on November 11, 2010, produced by Radio Television Hong Kong. 
. 5  Jacques Rancière, Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics, trans. Steven Corcoran (London: Continuum International Publishing, 1999), 141. 
. 6  Ibid., 141. 
. 7  Ibid., 140. 
. 8  Ibid., 141. 
. 9  Wooferten, http://woofer10.blogspot.hk/. 
. 10  Wooferten, from the Web page of the Yaumatei Self-Rescue Project and Demonstration Exhibition, ymtselfrescue.blogspot.hk. 
. 11  Michel de Certeau, L'Invention du Quotidien, Vol. 1, Arts de Faire (Paris: Union générale d'éditions, 1980) 10–18. 
. 12  Susan Sontag, Against Interpretation and Other Essays (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1967), 13. 
. 13  From the Web site of the exhibition Mobile M+, http://www.mobile-mplus.hk/paksheungchuen.html/
. 14  Ricky Burdett, Museums & Galleries: Creative Engagement, 2004, www.nationalmuseums.org.uk/ resources/.