Hong Kong Reading

Oscar Ho 2008 Government, Business and People: Museum Development in Asia, Globalartmuseum.de.

Community Museum Project – by Howard Chan (art curator), Siu King-chung (design educator), Tse Pak-chai and Phoebe Wong (cultural researchers)

Cattle Depot Artist Village




Theme: Hong Kong: Heritage Preservation as Civil Right Movement

Star Ferry Pier and Queen’s Pier – The Turning Point

In 2007 the Hong Kong Government, in order to build a highway reaching the Central Finance District, moved to dismantle the Star Ferry Pier. Much to the government’s surprise, public outcries against the abolishment was overwhelming. Calling for a respect to people’s ‘collective memories’, the public, among them many young people, came out to defend the Pier. Despite violent protest, the Pier was finally dismantled, which led to serious confrontation between the demonstrators and police. For the first time in Hong Kong, there were people arrested for defending their ‘collective memories’, a new term popularly used to suggest a sense of collective identity. Right after the dismantling of the Pier, the demonstrators moved to defend the Queen Pier near by, which would be demolished for the highway as well.


“Urban redevelopment and conservation of local culture in Hong Kong”

by Hilary Tsui

This article gives an introduction to the Star Ferry Pier incident and the subsequent heritage preservation campaigns developed and their cultural significance.


“Locating Postcolonial Heritage in Hong Kong:The Star Ferry Pier as a Site of Politics, Memory and Encounter”

by Lachlan Barber

The article presents a comprehensive picture of the background behind the dismantling of the Pier, and studies the significance of the incident of Star Ferry Pier as a movement of defending a distinctive cultural identity after the City’s unification with China.


Activists clash with police: Queen’s Pier

A news report on the movement defending the Queen’s pier


Pictures of preserving Queen’s Pier

A photo essay by P.H.Yang, who captured vivid images of the movement.


Theme: Choi Yuen Chuen (Vegetable Garden Village)

After the Star Ferry Pier incident, preservation of ‘meaningful’ heritage became a great community concern. Among the various ‘battles’, the most significant confrontation came from the defense of the Choi Yuen Chuen (Vegetable Garden Village). Choi Yuen Chuen was a farming community at the New Territory that still preserved an old agricultural communal spirit. In order to build a high-speech railway linking Hong Kong with Mainland China, the Village needed to be demolished. The incident arouse strong reactions from the public, which triggered another series of demonstration and confrontation, in which art, collective performance and rituals played significant roles. The demonstrations not only indicated the strong desire to preserve certain ways of living, but also an reaction against the so-called ‘Central Values’ (The ‘Central District’ is the finance district of Hong Kong, ‘Central Values’ means the unlimited greed for economic growth). The fact that the railway links Hong Kong with China also generated extra animosity.


Choi Yuen Garden demonstration: a reinvention of rituals – for days, the demonstrators walked every 3 steps and kneeled down and bowled, as an act of suffering to call for mercy with the land. A moving film on this rituals (if you can find someone to translate the Chinese subtitle it would be good, it means a lot).


Statement by an old resident of Choi Yuen Chuen


This is an interesting web-discussion, might help to illustrate the background and some of the issues


Examples of some of other conservation ‘battle :

1. Graham Street Market, where artists organized art events right at the market to generate public attention.


2. Lee Tung Street, well knowns “The Wedding Card Street.”, where all the little shops provided all the props necessary to have a happy and prosperous Chinese wedding.


Theme: Preservation and the arts

Since the Star Ferry Pier incident, artists have always been playing an active role in the campaign for cultural preservation, and arts have been used frequently as tools for demonstration and persuasion. Not only arts organizations, but also social service organizations have been engaged with arts activities to draw public’s attention and to empower the community. There are several organizations which have been particularly outstanding in recognizing and preserving local cultures, namely the grass-root culture and the cultures of ethnic minorities.

These are some of these community projects that deserve attention:

In 2007 Society for Community Service, a social activist group, organized ‘Our life in West Kowloon’ project which on the one hand highlights cultural identity of the poor, on the other hand, uses arts to display social injustice. The Project set a new tone for community arts.


For nearly a decade Community Museum Project has been discovering and reinventing the much ignored street culture and revitalize them for further creative expressions through inventive curatorial projects.


Hulu Culture has been very active in recent years in grass root culture preservation through exhibition, publication, cultural tours, workshop and archival work. (A Brown student Elysian McNiff worked at Hulu this Summer, maybe she can share some of her experience.)


‘V artivist’(Shadow Walker) is an organization of artists who use video for documentation as well as creative expression to show social injustice and call for changes. They have been working at the grass-root level for decades and are important partner at various preservation movements. They describe themselves as‘the Shadow Walker, a hope that art can be popular, but not kitsch images of arts groups. We believe in people’s daily lives, there are countless possible innovations, and art, is inextricably linked with the social life …”.

This is one of their short documentaries showing the daily life at Graham Street market, an old neighbourhood the government plans to redevelop. It is a straight forward recording of the harsh but warm life in an old district. (Unfortunately there is no English sub-title, but you get a feel of it).


A radio programme on Hong Kong Heritage Movement at <Ethical>Station