Both Sides Now I – Somewhere between Hong Kong and the UK

Isaac Leung and Jamie Wyld

Shortly before the handover from British to Chinese rule, a story in Fortune magazine entitled “The Death of Hong Kong” made a pessimistic remark about Hong Kong’s role as an international commercial hub. Despite this Hong Kong is likely to still become “Manhattan Plus” as proclaimed by the former Financial Secretary, Antony Leung, in 2001. It is obvious that Hong Kong is still thriving even after 17 years of change of sovereignty. Indeed, if one zooms in on the city’s panoramic views, which are often depicted in magazine and policy promotional materials, the everyday life between buildings is far from dead, but in the process of being Manhattanized.

In recent years, controversies such as the initiation of “moral and national education,” the rejection of HKTV’s application for a domestic free television license, and the rising conflict between Hong Kong residents and Mainland Chinese have undoubtedly caused many to question – Has Hong Kong changed over the years? Despite Hong Kong’s resilience in the face of global economic hardship and the relatively successful perseverance of civil liberties under the ‘One Country, Two Systems,’ Hong Kong has indeed changed a lot – changes that not only involve aspects of political stability and economic performance, but deeper questions concerning Hong Kong citizen’s identities and relations to their past.

Change has always been an inevitable part of life. For better or for worse, the most intriguing thing as Hong Kong-born Chinese is how we have managed, reacted to and ridden the waves of change in an ever-growing dynamic city. Besides the game of names and classifications offered by journalists and politicians, there are individuals from different generations who discover and create their personal stories by living at this tiny spot on the global map. Perhaps today’s Hong Kong is not so present, but somehow located in the consciousness of the individuals of the past.

Both Sides Now- Somewhere between Hong Kong and the UK is the first phase of a long-term project that proposes (historical) re-readings of artists’ moving image from Hong Kong and the UK. By selecting video works of art, animations and documentary films produced by Hong Kong artists from 1989 to 2013, the Hong Kong section will reinterpret the experience of here and now by looking into the potentially excluded and forgotten moving images of Hong Kong.

Through screenings and lectures at multiple locations in the UK and Hong Kong – Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art with Floating Cinema (Manchester/London), Whitechapel Gallery (London), FACT (Liverpool), Duke’s at Komedia (Brighton), Osage (Hong Kong), and British Council Hong Kong – Both Sides Now will review the ways in which Hong Kong and British artists construct meaning about place and the manifold of historical interconnectedness between Hong Kong and the UK.

Programme Leaflet