Thursday, 19 November 2015

HK reinforces unique arts hub status

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam

It gives me great pleasure to join you at the launching of this much-awaited major public art installation, Event Horizon Hong Kong. First of all, I would like to extend my warmest welcome to Sir Antony, the world-renowned Turner Prize winner from Britain who conceived Event Horizon, and to thank him for choosing Hong Kong as the first city in Asia to embrace this significant project.

 

Event Horizon was first shown in London in 2007. After touring to Rotterdam, New York, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, it is now brought to Hong Kong by the British Council. Its Asian premiere in Hong Kong reinforces our position as an arts hub and an economy where creative industries are set to prosper. Indeed, Hong Kong's condensed urban environment, unique topography and vertical density provide an ideal setting for Sir Antony's project. In the coming six months, we will see 31 life-size identical sculptures cast from the artist's own body perching on rooftops and standing on the ground at Central and Western districts. These solitary figures will look out into space to question the relation between the built world and an inherited earth.

 

Looking skyward

Sir Antony wants Hong Kong to become a place of reverie that invites reflection on human nature and our place in the wider scheme of things. These sculptures are meant to, as he puts it, "activate the skyline in order to encourage people to look around". Therefore, I will be most happy to join pedestrians on the street to look up and look around to explore the place of the individual in a collective space.

 

Speaking in my other capacity as Chairman of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, the Event Horizon installation is most timely. Blessed with 40 hectares of prime waterfront site with over half of it being designated as open space in the approved development plan, the District needs a robust, appropriate and imaginative public art policy. Event Horizon Hong Kong will no doubt help encourage discussions of public art in our city and give our local artists, art administrators and art critics much food for thought.

 

With that context, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government warmly welcomes the installation. Numerous government departments have worked behind the scenes to facilitate the mounting of the sculptures at building tops on government and private buildings, to ensure the necessary approvals are granted in time and to prepare to answer queries and worries from members of the public. I want to thank my civil service colleagues from Home Affairs Bureau, Architectural Services Department, Buildings Department, Fire Services Department, Government Property Agency, Highways Department, Home Affairs Department, Hong Kong Police Force, Lands Department, Leisure & Cultural Services Department including Antiquities & Monuments Office, Post Office, Planning Department and Transport Department. Event Horizon would not have been possible without their collective efforts.

 

Educational art

Apart from being an art installation, Event Horizon is also an education and outreach project. I am delighted to note that a series of educational activities including guided tours, lectures, seminars and workshops will be available to teachers, students and members of the public. These educational efforts would certainly help enhance our understanding of sculptures and public art and encourage dialogues. I am sure everyone will find something of interest. We don't really need to be a true professional to appreciate and enjoy art.

 

For those who would like to see more of Sir Antony's works on a permanent basis, I have a piece of good news for you: the West Kowloon Cultural District's museum for visual culture, M+, has acquired Sir Antony's landmark installation Asian Field in 2014. The large-scale sculptural installation comprises approximately 200,000 unique, hand-formed clay figurines produced in 2003 by 350 inhabitants of Xiangshan village in Guangdong Province under the guidance of Sir Antony. The M+ collection also has a piece of his fascinating work Matrix. So by the time M+ opens in 2019, you and I will be able to appreciate these magnificent works by Sir Antony.

 

Last but not the least, may I take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to British Council Hong Kong for bringing this world-class event to Hong Kong. I must also thank its Lead Partner, K11 Art Foundation, and all the organisations and companies which have come together to give their support in different ways. I wish Event Horizon a huge success and Sir Antony a most enjoyable stay in Hong Kong.

 

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the "Event Horizon" launch ceremony on November 19.

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