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摘去鮮花,然後種出大廈

2021/4/20 — 11:09

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【梁展峰撰寫,阿三編訂╱「時刻導賞員」藝評人】

走進展覽空間,右邊的錄像投映播放著九龍城公務員合作社的前世今生。約六分鐘的錄像由社區成員劉婉婷製作,前段勾勒了「公務員建屋合作社計劃」的本意,為居民提供房屋福利;後段則提及現時巿區重建政策帶來的影響。主辦者希望透過展覽和相關活動,促進各方關注並思考合作社的住屋和目前巿區重建引發的問題,並拓展重建計劃的其他可行方案。於是,除了關乎房屋的歷史文獻(如建築圖則和法律文件)是重點外,展覽的另一重點落在居民的人情和故事上,還有美善同道街巷中反映的合作社房屋歷史㾗跡。

廣告

議題中關乎鄰里的面向由藝術家透過探訪和考察後的作品展現。放在展廳窗壆的《抬頭看見的天空》是藝術家劉清華和林建才的攝影創作,多張橫列的相片連成城巿天際線,相片紀錄了大廈露台和天空之間的露台和花草,足以引發我思考和聯想城巿重建引致的鄰社關係變質。除了這件作品,其他藝術家也曾使用天際線作為闡釋城巿景觀的象徵,藝術家梁志和在1999-2000年間,在鬧市裡抬頭看天,按高樓連成的天際線𠝹出不同城巿的天空,並演化出多個作品系列,例如源自紐約巿天空的Frank Lin Meets Broad Wai(1999);上海巿天空的《城市曲奇》(黃志恆及梁志和合作,2000)。畫家陳閃經常把天空和高樓畫在各種外形的畫布上,如《空》(2011-2013) 和 「SimSky 系列」,其畫框外形總讓人聯想到,高樓大廈環抱天空所連成的天際線。

廣告

一些合作社居民酷愛露台上悉心栽種的花卉和植物,生怕遷走後無法再有這珍貴的回憶和生活空間。《抬頭》攝影作品正是藝術家對這份情感的回應:藝術家把鏡頭凝視天空,恰巧拍到露台上的植物,大廈和植物因背光而變得昏暗,令相中兩個主體(天空和大廈)光暗分明,對比強烈;植物的長枝和綠葉衝破天際線伸向天空,猶如城市重建的比喻。看著相片,我又想到提及城巿變遷的香港流行曲歌詞:《花落誰家》(2007)的歌詞「鐵塔以下青翠山嶺化作了石油站」、《燕尾蝶》(2002)的歌詞「摘去鮮花然後種出大廈」和《抬頭》相片,同樣以花草的消逝和建築物的變化,標誌著城巿不斷發展,而自然逐漸遠離人們。

展場原為旅舍房間,兩邊窗戶呈曲尺形左右相連,猶如舊式「轉角唐樓」露台窗框的排列。展覽落在社區重建的脈絡上,窗外風景與窗前展品彷彿緊密扣連。倚靠窗前,我看著裱在木板上的《抬頭》照片,再望出窗外是一排舊式大廈和繁忙馬路;從左面眺望,馬路對面就是展覽談及的合作社房屋;窗下枱面展示一批文件,記載當初合作社興建本意和當時處境。一窗之隔,窗內窗外的視覺內容不禁讓人思索迫切的城巿重建事情。

「九龍城公務員合作社文獻展」

地點:麻雀客棧(土瓜灣北帝街16號1樓)
展期:2020年11月28日至12月6日

策展人:黃嘉瀛 
參展藝術家:劉清華 、林建才
講座藝術家: 嚴瑞芳

社區協作:劉婉婷 、龍子譽、李芷媚 、關銘軒 

Pluck the flowers and grow skyscrapers
Written by Jeff Leung, edited by Chan Sai-lok / art critic of “Free Walk In”

The video that greets viewers on their right-hand side as they enter the exhibition tells the history of the Kowloon City Civil Servants’ Co-operative Building Society. The first part of the six-minute video, created by Belle Lao Un-teng of the Society, explains how the Societies were founded to provide housing welfare for members of the community; the latter half of the video is about the influence of the current policy of urban renewal. Organizer of the exhibition attempts to raise awareness of how the Society provides housing, and of issues brought by the present policy of housing renewal, and to explore other possibilities for housing policies, by means of exhibition and related activities. That is why the exhibition not only places emphasis on historical archives about housing (such as architectural drawings and legal documents), but also stories of people and how the community is closely knitted, and history of co-op society housing as reflected in Maidstone Road.

Artists conducts field trips and visits, and then created works on the theme about community relations. “The Sky” displayed on the window sill is a photography series jointly created by Jess Lau and Kinchoi Lam. A number of horizontal photographs are joined together to form the city’s skyline. The photographs show balconies and plants separated by a strip of sky. They lead me to think about the fading of community bondage caused by urban renewal. Apart from this work, the skyline has been the motif that symbolize urban landscape for many artists. Between 1999 and 2000, Leung Chi-wo created a series of works based on the shapes of sky sliced by the top edges of tall buildings, such as “Frank Lin Meets Broad Wai” based on the sky in New York City (1999), and “City Cookie” (jointly created by Leung and Sara Wong, 2000) of the sky in Shanghai. Painter Sim Chan paints skies and buildings on canvases of various shapes, such as “Sky” (2011-2013) and “SimSky Series”. The shapes of his canvases remind one of skyline in a circuit as one looks up through surrounding tall buildings.

Residents of the Kowloon City Civil Servants’ Co-operative Building Society have devoted much love to the potted plants in their balconies. They are worried that such memories and space that allowed them to maintain their lifestyle would vanish after they move out. “The Sky” is the artists’ response to the residents’ sentiments. The artists fixed their lens towards the sky, and shot the plants on the balconies. There are a strong contrast of light and shadow between the two motifs (the sky and buildings), as the buildings and plants are backlit against the sky.  The outspreading branches and leaves of the plants form a metaphor for urban renewal. When I looked at these photos, I recalled lyrics of Cantopop songs about changes in the city’s landscape: “Verdant hills under the tower became a gas station” (“Onto Whose Garden Would the Petals Fall”, 2007), and “pluck the flowers and grow skyscrapers” (“Swallowtail Butterfly”, 2002). Disappearance of flowers and greenery symbolizes the everchanging face of the city, and our estrangement from nature, in these lyrics and in The Sky.

The exhibition venue was once hotel rooms. The design of its L shaped windows connecting two walls is like that of balcony windows in old tenement buildings that run along street corners. With the exhibition set against the background of community resettlement, it seems the landscape outside the window and the art work in front of it are interconnected. As I leaned on the window, I looked at photos of “The Sky” mounted on wooden board placed in front of the window, and then shifted my gaze outside at a row of old buildings and a busy road; across the road at my left were the co-operative society buildings that this exhibition was about; while under the window, documents that explain the purpose and background of the co-operative society were displayed. I could not help but think about the imminent issue of urban renewal, as I shifted my view in and outside the window.  (translated by Chan Lai-kuen)

Venue: The Mahjong (1/F, 16 Pak Tai Street, To Kwa Wan, Kowloon, Hong Kong)
Date:28 Nov - 06 Dec 2020

Curator: Wong Ka Ying
Artists: Jess Lau Ching Wa, Kinchoi Lam
Guest Sharing Artist: Yim Shui Fong
Community Facilitators: Belle Lao, Travis Lung, Jess Li, Dennis Kwan

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