One of the important legacies of the Umbrella Movement is to deconstruct and reclaim public space in the city of Hong Kong. The actual occupation might be over for now, but the rational of recreating civil space remains amongst all of us. As typical Hong Kongers, we eat in the mall, work in the mall, shop in the mall, go on dates in the mall, and wander alone in the mall. Basically, a large part of our life is spent in the mall. Therefore, to know the culture that produces and is being produced by the mall, could be the best way to understand the culture of Hong Kong and its people.
We’d like to invite all of the interested citizens to join our wandering tour in one of the upscale shopping malls in Hong Kong: the Festival Walk. In this non-shopping tour, we will have artists/scholars from various fields to illustrate how the mall, together with its countless shops and utilities, exists and so forth shapes our life. Moreover, through sharing and discussion, we attempt to facilitate a better communication and a pursuit for alternative lifestyle than work, consume and die.
Wandering Scholar Collective will lead you the way to get oriented with a disorienting intervention of everyday strolling through the corporate mall
FV & KY, an art-historian & visuak artist dynamic duo scrutinize “Public Art” and how the artist is incorporated and exploited by anti-social/corporate art initiatives.
KJ & IF, the body/gender sensitive academics question a university that is connected to the mall and its aphoristic interior decorating that neglects or that rips the quote from its original context
YJ, a publishing dropout illustrates the struggles of independent publishing, the squeezing of book distribution and its relation to the free flow of information
Mr. & Miss. Lee, the independent fashion entrepreneur enlightens how to survive in exclusion from many areas in due to high overhead and prohibitive rents.
Double-L, an escaped Hong Kong architect gives account to the architecture of the mall and the misplaced/misnamed ice skating rink of Festival Walk
CKM, a stand-up comedian reminisces the way movies used to provide a social experience as opposed to the manner in which mall theaters currently operate
The Active Ms. C, will pull the rabbit out of her hat and end the whole event in surpise and magic.
A traveler once said to me, Hong Kong is a mega bank and a mega mall. This statement apparently simplifies the city’s characteristics to some extent, still there is some (ugly) truth in it. The super-efficient subway system (MTR) connects the most crowded parts of the city into a fluid organism, and above almost every MTR station, there is always a mall or two, swallowing thousands of passers-by every single hour. As typical Hong Kongers, we eat in the mall, work in the mall, shop in the mall, go on dates in the mall, wander alone in the mall. Basically, a large part of our life is spent in the mall. Therefore, to know the culture that produces and is being produced by the mall, could be the best way to understand the culture of Hong Kong and its people. What kind of stores could afford such a high rent and keeps running in the mall? What do people from all walks of life do in the mall? What is that that they cannot do in the mall? Is there any blind-spot in the mall that we constantly miss? How is the mall linked to the rest of the city, and mall walkers to each other, and how does the mall kill the possibility of other spaces coming into being?
The Festival Walk is an upscale shopping mall in Kowloon Tong, right above, guess what, is the Kowloon Tong MTR station. It is your typical Hong Kong mall, with cosmetics shops on the lower level, designer clothes in the middle, a food court at the top, as well as a cinema (AMC), an indoor skating court, some beauty salons, chainstore coffee shops, and other boutiques. It also holds the entrance to City University of Hong Kong, just opposite to its flashy resident Apple Store. In appearance, it seems so familiar that we never bother to take a step back and really look at it, and look at each other. We are the mere passive acceptors of whatever the mall sells and presents; even if we reject to purchase anything here, the mall penetrate our beings through the yummy smell of the food it serves, the merry Christmas songs it plays, the numerous goods it showcases behind the glass walls. What if, I say, we pause a little, instead of swallowing it all in the Festival Walk, we sense the Festival Walk in its tiniest details, and its most easily overlooked corners, and then transform it into a more livable space by occupying it in a subversive way.
In this shopping tour, we will have artists/scholars from various fields to illustrate how the mall, together with its countless shops and utilities, exists and then shapes our life. A sociologist specializing on new media will be there in the Apple Store tell us the journey of an iphone from sweatshop in Shenzhen to Hong Kong smugglers and then back to mainland China’s Alibaba online stores. A food anthropologist will wait for you in front of Pepper Lunch to show you the eating habits of Hong Kongers and how it relates the life rhythm here. A movie critic will sit on the bench of Starbuck sofa next to AMC cinema, and recount the history of cinemas and cinema houses in the city, i.e. how they appear and disappear/reappear again and again; A song writer will stand in where used to be a record store, and talk about the sad stories of the fall of Hong Kong’s music industries.
You are also most welcome to contribute your knowledge of the mall. In fact, another motivation to make this tour happen is our firm belief in alternative learning. Instead of merely remembering knowledge, we prefer discovering it; Instead of reciting theories for exams, we encourage applying them in actual environments; and most importantly, instead of passively accepting whatever we are told, we believe in the power of critical thinking and contextualizing research on our own. Who are the wondering scholars? Do not look away, it is me and it is you. So come, join us, be us; let us wander in the least romantic place in the capital-driven city, and deconstruct it, and remake it with our minds and feet.