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Another Garden of Remembrance 另一個紀念花園

By John Batten /

So, you have entered the Garden of Hong Kong

(Something like) ‘How to…’ instructions (with extra comments) to listen to a DVD, or appreciate a broken washing machine or refrigerator, in Lee Kit’s Hong Kong Garden:

      Be comfortable and confident as you walk in the garden. 
      Walk around to get a good overview of what’s inside.

      Don’t touch, just look.

      Listen, to the music. There’s not much, but it’s everywhere.
      And there is thumping. Thumping.  

          Thump thump thump.

      Can’t hear it? Listen again.
      It’s quiet, and only heard intermittently, near the two swans’ video. 

          Thump thump thump 
      (I remember the banging of hands or sticks or anything hard against the      
city’s street-signs and steel barriers, just like this, a strong tinny-steel
thump).

      Don’t walk in bare feet.
      There are smashed-up bits of washing machine and refrigerator on the
floor.
Have a look, get down at eye-level, if you wish; look. Want to touch?
Don’t! But, no-one will know if you do.  
      (I remembered not to touch anything on the streets when I was on the
streets. 
We could have been accused of possessing a bottle, a rock; holding, then
accused of throwing).

      The streets were littered like this, on so many nights in late-2019, with
trashed piles of rubbish bins, street fencing, lumps of wood, pallets, pot-
plants, pavement bricks, plastic wrapped around light-poles,
construction safety barriers, anything lying idle and easily at hand.  

      I didn’t check if the exhibition has a security camera. Did you?

      If you did touch – but I instructed you not to! – then you could’ve been
caught on camera. (In the MTR stations or on the street, the cameras
were smashed or spray-painted over). 
The exhibition cameras, if here, are harmless; I am sure of it.
      Three videos are playing.
      Watch them. If you wish. 

      Have you made a circuit around the room? Stood under the arches? 
Walked under the arches? Brushed past the pillars? Stood under the
window? 

      Now, find the furthest corner of the garden, stand in it; for the…for the (I
am hesitating to suggest!)
…for the (great, perfect selfie-spot) wide-angled view of Hong Kong
Garden!

You might be thinking: Is this all? or Is this it? Is this the whole exhibition?
OK – go outside.
No, there is no (formal) Part II, no other room to visit. That’s it. For the
moment.
Return again for a second look, after a little rest in the outdoor garden; 
or take a short walk down Oil Street towards the sea; come back in the
moment it takes to have a cigarette….


If you are looking for absolute meaning and explanation in Lee Kit”s artwork, you might be disappointed. There is not too much. Hong Kong Garden is minimal and abstract and there is not much activity. Well, not right now, not while you are here. But something did happen: the ruins that is Hong Kong Garden is a landscaped metaphor for Hong Kong’s recent past, the protests and its aftermath, families and friends split by political disagreements, daily police briefings and government announcements, culminating in the November 2019 sieges between police and protesters at Hong Kong universities. Then, the promulgation of the National Security Law in mid-2020 and the immediate early morning knocks on doors and police arrests of prominent protesters. More recently, the stresses in the city have been compounded by Covid-19 infections and restrictions on gatherings, lockdowns, restaurant closures, and economic recession. 

The exhibition also recalls memories of those difficult past times – including, the Japanese occupation; post-war recession and recovery; the 1967 leftist riots and Cultural Revolution fervour crossing into Hong Kong from the mainland; and, anxiety about the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration – when the city has been governed in the interests of what decision-makers-of-the moment want, rather than the obvious needs of the people (referred to, in a widely embracing category, as ‘the grass-roots’, or, by ordinary people themselves, as “small potatoes”).

“Meaning” in Lee Kit’s work is only an aspect of his visual creativity. Let me use the example of Ogawa Yoko’s extraordinary novel The Memory Police (1994). The inhabitants of a small island experience the disappearance of objects. Once disappeared, everyone on the island is forbidden to recall these objects in their memory, this is enforced by the thuggish, robot-like efficiency of the Memory Police, who surveil the populace to ensure those memories are completely forgotten. Initially, only small objects disappear, such as candy, jewellery, musical instruments; then it is plants, birds, and the island’s ferries. Finally, and ominously, people’s body parts disappear and all memory of their use. A disappeared leg is initially a hindrance, until its use is forgotten, and the body adapts with difficulty; this becomes accepted, but only because memory of its existence is erased. Finally, the head/the brain disappear. 

Ogawa’s book has been described as depicting Mao’s China during the Cultural Revolution, or the repressive purges of Stalin’s Soviet Union in the 1930s. It could, however, be a novel about life and slow bodily changes and losses encountered towards death. Or, Alzheimer’s disease and the traumatic loss of memory, and the complete inability to do the simplest of tasks. On the whole island, one person, known as ‘R’, hidden from society and the Memory Police in the home of the novel’s narrator, has retained his memory. His advice to the narrator, who struggles to recall words, memories and the use of forgotten objects to complete her own novel, is: “The meaning isn’t important. What matters is the story hidden deep in the words. You are at the point now where you’re trying to extract that story. Your soul is trying to bring back the things it lost in the disappearances.” 

Lee Kit’s Hong Kong Garden does similar. Set in this heritage building, he visually recalls the recent past.(1) By laying simple markers, he prompts us to remember our hidden stories, our memories. Lee’s work always possesses great feeling. And imaginings. And always good music. There will be a video or two, or three. Paintings, but, unusually in this exhibition, there are no paintings. Lee’s work is like a sensual finger working down your spine, the sensations range from initial surprise, pleasant calm to dreamy contentment. His strength is the ability to touch the emotions, often of melancholia, sentimentality, and nostalgia, of his audience. His exhibitions allow space to recall love, friendship, companionship, and good times. In his Hong Kong Garden, these are here, but also conjured are darker, more recent, memories. Painful memories are remembered; forgetting them is another, bigger challenge.

      Part II

      There is always a Part II if you want it, when you return, as you should.
      So, enter Hong Kong Garden again.
      Sit down, be comfortable, but (I know, I know) there is no seating. So,
use an old newspaper, or, 
flattened cardboard, or anything! 
      Get comfortable.

      Like meditation, focus.

      Hong Kong Garden allows you to imagine, to recall, the recent past. 

      But, where are we? We should first know some history. 
      Now, and the future, will be clearer.


There are shadows and light and air. There is space. There are pillars and a concrete floor and a ceiling. We are inside the former clubhouse (between 1908 to 1938) of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, when the sea was just a few metres away, just past the entrance doors you have entered. After the yacht club moved to its present, bigger location in Causeway Bay, this site was enlarged by reclamation, extending the land into Victoria Harbour. As government services are often sited on the waterfront, a supplies depot was established on this land.

When Hong Kong’s post-war influx of refugees from the mainland put immense pressure on the city’s public services, the colonial government undertook an ambitious building programme of schools, hospitals, clinics, and mass residential public housing. The Government Supplies Department Depot at Oil Street expanded throughout the 1950s and 1960s to become a busy place of large warehouses and offices, including these former yacht club premises (some rooms used by security guards for overnight accommodation). The goods stored here were almost any material imaginable: rolls of wire, lightbulbs, bags of cement, tarpaulin and writing pads, teacups, pens and all the varied supplies required by the city’s growing brigade of government workers in offices and on building projects around Hong Kong.

In 1998, not long after Hong Kong’s return to the mainland, the whole site was vacated, the buildings and its prime waterfront location awaited its sale to a property developer. Only the former yacht club buildings were to be preserved.

In between the vacancy and sale of the site, for a magical eighteen months, the warehouses were rented-out at low cost to become, momentarily, a fabled place of art and culture, known at the time simply as ‘Oil Street.’(2) Scattered inside and around these former warehouses, in different buildings, were the studios of artists, designers, architects, and arts organisations Videotage, Zuni Icosahedran, Artists’ Commune and 1aspace. Regular businesses were also attracted by the low rent, particularly transportation and logistics companies, utilizing the established storage, loading and unloading facilities of the former supplies’ depot. 

Within the depot, amongst the businesses and the energy of art exhibitions, artist gatherings, performances, and spontaneous cultural activities, were many unoccupied spaces. Running off the long corridors of the various warehouses were rooms – some incredibly large – mostly unlocked and open for anyone to enter. These rooms were rarely completely empty. Some had desks, whose desktops had a scattered assortment of ink blotter holders, chops, trays, paperclips, piles of discarded elastic-bands and envelopes embossed with the colonial ‘OHMS’. There were also lovely wooden chairs with rattan webbing, long wooden benches, stationery cabinets. Some rooms eerily felt as if the inhabitants had simply left for the afternoon, desks awaiting their return. Other rooms had heaped office furniture, dumped and unwanted, stacked as rubbish, calendars frozen at ‘1997’and prosaic posters about safety, hygiene, and departmental instructions. Ancient green fridges were abandoned, some pushed over and damaged, the floor covered with dust and bits of flotsam; as you walked around this ‘rubbish’, rising motes of dust were caught in the sun through dirty steel-reinforced windows. 

Lee Kit’s refrigerator and washing machine would be appropriate in either domestic or commercial settings. They are not particularly out of place in any apartment, or a supply depot, an art gallery, or a former yacht club. Lee has an uncanny ability to choose just the right objects in his installations to focus and draw an audience into his artistic ‘aura.’ His intended ambience is skillfully created by these physical objects. This is further reinforced by the balance created between his installations and a venue’s architecture. This room’s architecture is intentional. The pillars and arches in yacht club days mitigated against any unexpected high tidal sea-surges. Any destruction was contained when waves mounted the adjacent seawall, swirled through the room, around pillars, under the arches, and returned to the sea. The room’s dungeon-like mood retains a suppressed violence. It is this exact vibe that Lee Kit wishes for. (3) 

The addition of music, noise, video and (sub-titled) text allows an atmosphere for his audience to run with memories and recall subliminal associations. 

      Illusions are allowed.
      In fact, illusions are preferred.
      It is a trigger to remember the recent past, and…
      Helpful to forget, despite the rallying call of protesters, to “never forgive,
never forget.”

A final illusion of ruination and destruction are the pillars supporting the room’s beautiful arches that allude to the Biblical pillars that Samson grasped and pulled down in the Temple of Dagon, destroying the temple and all its inhabitants, including his captors, the Philistines. Think about that. In common parlance, the dictionary meaning of ‘philistine’ is “a person who refuses to see the beauty or the value of art or culture.”

      We could play with such a free association of ideas. 
      Is the experience of Hong Kong Garden something like after Samson has
pulled down the pillars?
      BTW, who are Hong Kong’s philistines?

Lee Kit’s Hong Kong Garden could depict the ruination of everything. It is embodied in that cry you sometimes hear or read on T-shirts: “Everything’s gone to Hell.” But, then watch his three projected videos. They offer a humane perspective to balance the nihilistic destruction on the floor.

      For example:
      Nature (in the pot-plant video): “all things wise and wonderful / all
creatures great and small.”

Lee, however, does not allow us to hear the clincher next line: “…the Lord God made them all.” In Lee’s world, humanity is the architect of the world, and of its destruction.

The haunting lines:
“Are you gonna stay with the one who loves you
Or, are you going back to the one you love

What you gonna say when he comes over
There’s no easy way to see this through.

But, still you’ve gotta make up your mind.”

That sounds like a messy love-triangle. It is a mess, yes, but there are still choices. At least, there is the option, always in failing relationships – or, of any serious moment of regret or disagreement, or of a grand realization – to “make up your mind” and to answer the question, ‘should I stay, or should I go.’ In Hong Kong, now, these are questions literally being weighed-up by younger residents, many who consider the city’s recent changes as unpalatable.

      Here then: you can also sit and (re)consider any of your own messy love
affairs, failed friendships, work-place arguments, political
disagreements, lifestyle choices, the fights and bullying you received –
and gave.
Are you embarrassed for what you did, in the past?
      Are you seeking understanding and reconciliation? Do you just want
some time and space to think?

      Hong Kong Garden could be, 
if there was an advertisement: ‘a safe-space, a refuge for reflection,
reconciliation, change.’ 
      However, the garden may also reinforce the strength and convictions
you had.
      Does it explain past actions and motivations?
      Can you be better? 
      Can you be a better person?
      Can everything be better?

Despite the ruins, Lee Kit’s garden has the assured hope that winters turn to spring, that gardens renew, reflower, regrow. The Biblical words of Isaiah (43:18-19) – thump thump thump – are embedded in the garden: “Forget the former things; do not dwell in the past…I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Lee Kit’s options? Be the dog in the video, enjoy the sun! Leave the ‘xx’ in your pocket.

For now.

Notes:
*I have abbreviated Lee Kit’s exhibition title Garden of Hong Kong as ‘Hong Kong Garden’ in this essay.

(1) Two other significant exhibitions that Lee Kit presented in heritage buildings include: ‘You’ (2014) at the Cattle Depot, To Kwa Wan, Hong Kong; and ‘We used to be more sensitive’ (2018), Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan. See my review of Lee’s use of the Hara Museum’s domestic architecture in ‘Lee Kit’, Artomity, December 2018.  

(2) Known as just ‘Oil Street’ at the time, the term ‘Oil Street Artist Village’ was coined later after the site’s closure. See my articles: ‘Oil Street 1998 and Non-profit Art Spaces Now’, The Peak magazine, February 2015, and ‘The Origins of Hong Kong’s Independent Art Spaces’, Ming Pao Weekly, 16 April 2018.

(3) Also, Tsang Kin-wah’s video installation at Oil Street, Prelude to the Seven Bowls (2013) literally swirled through this room by using horrifying video footage of the destruction from the tsunami and sea-surge immediately after the 2011 Fukushima earthquake in Japan.


All images courtesy and by John Batten.

歡迎進入《香港花園》。

以下是(類似)如何觀賞一張影碟,或是欣賞李傑的《香港花園》裡一部壞洗衣機或雪櫃的指引(以及一些隨筆):

      請悠然和自信地走進花園。
      請先走一圈,看一看花園內大概有什麽。 

      請不要觸摸 ——看就可以了。

      現在,聽聽花園裏的音樂 ——聲量很微弱,但卻從不同的地方傳出。
      還有「砰﹗砰﹗」的重擊聲。
           砰﹗砰﹗砰﹗
      你聽不到嗎? 請再仔細聽一次。
      ——從兩隻天鵝的影片附近傳來,很微弱且斷斷續續的聲響。
            
砰﹗砰﹗砰﹗
     (我記得用手或棍子或是任何硬物敲打街道招牌或欄杆,也會發出類似這樣空洞的
重擊聲。)

      請不要赤腳走路。
      地上散滿著被砸爛的洗衣機和雪櫃的碎片。
      看 ——你也可以靠近點看——仔細地看。想要碰一碰?不行!但即使你真的碰
了,或許也沒有人知道。
     (我記得在街上也曾被警告不要觸碰街上的任何東西。我們可能會被指藏有一個玻
璃瓶,或是一塊小石頭;

      我們會被說手中拿著攻擊性武器,然後被控投擲傷人。)

      2019年末的許多個晚上,街道上都像這樣亂糟糟的堆滿垃圾:一堆堆被破壞的垃圾
桶、欄杆、木塊、木卡板、盆栽、

      行人道上的磚塊、纏在燈柱上的塑膠、

      工地的安全圍欄,或是任何地上隨手可撿的東西。

      我沒有注意展場內是否裝有監控鏡頭。你有看到嗎?

      要是你真的碰了展品 ——我已經警告過你不可以這樣做!——就會被鏡頭拍下
來。
     (港鐵站內或街上的監控鏡頭都被破壞,或是被噴上油漆遮蓋。)
      要是展場內真的設有鏡頭,大概也不會讓你惹上麻煩;我可以向你保證。
      有三部影片正在播放。
      請隨心觀賞。

      你有在花園內走一圈嗎?在拱門下站著?或是在拱門下走一走?在柱子附近走走?
站在窗戶下?

      現在,請你站到花園內最遙遠的角落;爲了……爲了(我正猶豫要不要説出來!)

      ……爲了(一個非常棒的自拍位置)《香港花園》的廣角全景!

      你或許正在想:就這樣?或是這個就是了?這就是一個展覽?
      好,現在請你走到外面去。
      不,並沒有(正式的)第二部份,沒有其它展區可以參觀了。就是這樣了。現在請
暫時站到外面去。
      請在戶外的花園稍作休息,或從油街向海的方向散一散步;在大概一支煙的時間後
返回展場,作第二次的參觀。

如果你希望在李傑的作品中尋找絕對的意義和解釋,你大概會失望了。他的作品並沒有什麽高深的大道理。《香港花園》非常簡約和抽象,也沒有什麽刺激的事情在發生 ——至少不是現在,不是你進入參觀的這一刻。有些事情確實發生了:《香港花園》這個廢墟場景暗喻著近年的香港:示威活動以及其後續影響、因政見不同而決裂的家庭和朋友、每天例行的警察記者會和政府公告、最後到2019年11月在大學校園裡警察和示威者的對峙。然後2020年中頒佈了「國家安全法」及隨之而來警察逮捕主要示威者時的清晨敲門聲。近來的疫情和一系列的限聚令、封區措施、餐廳倒閉潮以及經濟衰退,更加劇了這個城市的壓力。

展覽亦令人聯想起舊時的艱苦日子 ——像是日佔時期、戰後大蕭條和復蘇、1967年的左派暴動和從大陸傳入香港的文化大革命熱潮,還有1984年對中英聯合聲明的焦慮 ——這個城市的管治一直以時任決策者的利益為依歸,漠視市民明顯的訴求 (泛指「草根階層」,或是普通人所説的「小市民」。)

對李傑的作品來説,「意義」只是他表現視覺創意的其中一環。讓我以小川洋子的經典作品《祕密結晶》(1994年)作爲例子。小説講述一個小島上的居民發現島上的物件開始神秘地消失。物件一旦消失,島上的所有人都被禁止回想起這件物件。這個禁令由一群心狠手辣、像機械人一般奉命行事的記憶警察來執行。他們透過監視民衆,確保所有記憶都被遺忘得一乾二淨。最初,消失的都是一些無關痛癢的小物件,像是糖果、珠寶和樂器;後來是植物、空中的飛鳥、甚至是來往小島的輪船。後來,人們身體的某部份亦開始消失,連同其用途的記憶也一併消失,預示了最終的悲劇。失去一條腿的初期,只會造成一點不便,後來人們開始忘記它的用途,身體也漸漸適應各種不便;然後這個情況慢慢被接受,它曾經存在的記憶也被清除。最後,人們的頭部和腦袋也消失了。 

小川洋子的這部作品被形容是描述文革時期的中國;或是1930年代史達林時期蘇聯的鎮壓性大屠殺。不過,它也可以是關於生命流逝的過程中,身體漸漸出現的變化和殘缺,直至步入死亡;也可以是關於阿滋海默氏症造成的嚴重記憶喪失,甚至失去執行最簡單的工作的能力。整個小島上只有一個名爲「R」的人,藏身於小説敘述者的家中,躲開了外面的世界和記憶警察,才得以保留他所有的記憶。當敘述者爲了完成她的小説,而拼命地嘗試回想文字、記憶,以及被遺忘的物件的用途時,「R」給她這個忠告:「意義並不重要。真正重要的是文字背後述説的故事。你現在正正是嘗試從文字當中找出這些故事。你的靈魂正嘗試尋回已經消失的東西。」。

李傑的《香港花園》似乎也有類似的意圖。在這所歷史建築裡,他以視覺的方式回想近年發生的事。(1) 透過設置簡單的記號,他引發我們記起藏於心底的故事以及種種回憶。李傑的作品總是擁有一份強烈的情感。還有無窮的想像。也常伴隨著很動聽的歌曲。他的作品會有一兩段影片,或幾段影片。會有他的畫作,雖然很不尋常地,這個展覽裡沒有。李傑的作品就像輕輕掃過你脊柱的手指:最初你很意外,慢慢這份不安轉爲愉悅的平靜,最後化作夢幻般的滿足感。他擅長觸動觀衆的情緒,很多時候是一種淡淡的憂鬱、多愁善感,或是緬懷過去的情感。他的展覽是一個讓你憶起愛、友誼、伙伴和快樂回憶的空間。他的《香港花園》也創造了這樣的一個空間,即使它同時也喚起了最近一些比較灰暗的回憶。記起了痛苦的回憶;要忘記它們又是另一個更大的挑戰。

      第二部份

      只要你想的話,總會有第二部份,就在你回來的時候,你也應當要回來。
      請再次進入《香港花園》。
      請坐下,找一個舒適的位置,雖然(我知道)這裏沒有座位。你可以用舊報紙,或
是壓平的紙箱 ——任何東西都可以!
      請找一個讓自己舒適的位置。

      當作是在冥想一樣專注。

     《香港花園》讓你想像和憶起最近發生的事。

      但,我們身處在什麽地方?我們應先了解一些歷史。
      當下和未來都會變得更清晰。


光與影之間,空氣在悄悄流動。這裏有寬敞的空間、柱子、水泥的地面和很高的天花。我們正站在前香港皇家遊艇會會所(1908至1938年間),當時大海距離你剛走進的入口處只有數米。後來,遊艇會搬到現在位於銅鑼灣一個更大的空間,附近一帶亦展開了填海工程,將土地向維多利亞港的方向伸延。由於政府服務設施通常選址在海傍附近,這裏亦曾經被改建成政府物料供應處的倉庫。

戰後,大批來自大陸的難民湧至香港,對這個小城市的公共服務造成巨大壓力。當時的殖民政府雄心壯志地推行了多項興建學校、醫院、診所以及大型公共屋邨的計劃。1950至1960年代期間,當時位於油街的政府物料供應處倉庫不斷擴充,成爲大型倉庫和辦公室的集中地,部份地方則繼續由前遊艇會所持有 (譬如為保安員提供過夜住宿的房間)。這裏存放的貨品包羅萬有,像是一卷卷的電線、電燈泡、一袋袋的水泥、防水布、寫字板、茶杯、筆,以及各式各樣的物料,以應付當時不斷增長的政府辦公室員工和不同建築計劃的需求。

1998年,香港剛回歸中國,這個地方就被清空。這些建築物以及他們所在的頂級海傍土地正等待地產發展商收購,只有前香港皇家遊艇會會所的建築群得予以保留。

在售出前的十八個月空置期,原址的倉庫以低廉的租金出租,短暫地成爲傳奇的藝術文化空間,直接被稱作「油街」(2)。藝術家、設計師、建築師工作室以及錄映太奇、進念二十面體、藝術公社和1a空間等藝術團體零零碎碎地分佈在曾是倉庫的地方。低廉的租金和前物料供應處留下的倉庫和裝卸設施也吸引了一般商業——尤其是運輸物流公司——遷入使用。

倉庫裏有不同的業務,也有藝術展覽、藝術家聚會、表演,和即興的文化活動,以及許多未被佔用的空間。長長的走廊兩旁有許多房間——有些更非常大——大部份都沒有上鎖,人們可以自由出入。但這些房間大多數都不是完全空置,有些擺放了桌子,桌子上有淩亂的墨斗架、印章、托盤、萬字夾、一堆堆被丟棄的橡皮筋,以及印有「O.H.M.S.」、殖民地色彩濃厚的信封。亦有別致的柚木籐椅、長木凳和擺放文具的櫃子。有些房間感覺甚是怪異,好像房間裏的人只是離開了一個下午,桌子還在等房間的主人回來。其它的房間則堆滿了已被丟棄的辦公室傢俬、停留在「1997年」的年曆,還有關於安全、衛生和部門指引的乏味海報。古舊的綠色雪櫃已經被遺棄,有些更被推倒和破壞,地上亦滿佈灰塵和碎片。當你圍繞著這堆垃圾行走,陽光穿透骯髒的鐵窗,你會看到空氣中飄散著許多微塵。

李傑的雪櫃和洗衣機可作家居或商業用途。因此,不論把它們放置在公寓、倉庫、畫廊,或是前皇家遊艇會,都不會太格格不入。李傑似乎有一種不可思議的能力,可以挑選出恰到好處的物件去完成他的裝置作品,讓觀衆自自然然地被他的藝術「氛圍」所吸引並專注其中。他以熟練的技巧,用這些物件建構出他心目中的氣氛。他的裝置作品和展場的建築形成了某種平衡,更加強了所表現的情感。這個空間的結構充滿巧思。當這裏還是遊艇會的時候,柱子和拱門可以抵禦突如其來的潮漲。當海浪跨越相鄰的海堤,在這個空間裏圍著柱子和在拱門下打轉,然後順著原來的路綫返回大海,其破壞力會被大大減弱。這個像是地牢的房間,潛在著一股被壓抑的暴力 ——這個氛圍正正就是李傑想要的。(3)

裝置的音樂、噪音、影片和(字幕的)文字更是錦上添花,讓觀衆悄然墮入一個回憶的氛圍,喚起潛意識內的各種聯想。

      這裏容許幻想。
      事實上,我們希望你盡情地幻想。
      它可以喚起我們對近年的記憶;
      也有助我們忘記 ——雖然示威者的口號是「毋忘」。


有關毀滅和破壞的最後一個幻想,是展廳内支撐著美麗的拱門的柱子。它們彷佛暗示著聖經故事中,參孫在大袞神廟內推倒的柱子。故事裏,整座神廟都崩塌了,神廟裏的人更全部喪生,包括捉他的非利士人。細心想一想當中的關聯:一般來說,「philistine」在字典上的解釋就是「拒絕欣賞藝術或文化的美或價值的人」。

      我們可以隨意地聯想。
     《香港花園》不就像是參孫推倒神廟的柱子後的景象?
      在香港,誰又是那個「拒絕欣賞藝術或文化的美或價值的人」?


李傑的《香港花園》也可以是世界末日後的景象。就像你偶然會聽到,或在T恤上看到的「一切都往地獄去」的真實呈現。這個時候,你可以看看投影的三段影片,以人性的角度平衡地上展示的虛無主義式的末日景象。

      例如:
      大自然 (盆栽植物的影片):「all things wise and wonderful / all creatures
great and small. 

     (「一切聰明可愛物 / 一切活潑生靈」)


不過李傑沒有讓我們聽更陳腔濫調的下一句:「……都是天父造成」。李傑的世界觀認爲人類既是世界的建築師,也是破壞者。

縈繞在心頭的歌詞在重複著:

「你會選擇那個愛你的人
還是去找那個你愛的人
……
看見他時,你會説什麽
這實在不是可以容易解決的事
……
但你還是要下一個決定。」

聽起來是一個複雜的三角關係。沒錯,情況實在是一團糟,但你還可以選擇。至少,你還有選擇權 ——不論是一場失敗的戀愛關係、非常後悔或發生紛爭的時候,或是突如其來的覺醒 ——你還可以「下決定」,想清楚到底是要「留下還是離開」。這一刻的香港,年輕一代每天都在思考這個問題,因爲這個城市最近的變化實在令人厭惡。

      在這裏:你也可以坐下,(重新)思考自己一塌糊塗的愛情、破碎的友誼、與同事
的爭執、政治分歧、生活的選擇、

      曾遭遇的爭執和欺淩 ——或是你曾與人爭執或欺淩別人。

      你會否對從前的所作所爲感到慚愧?
      你希望尋求他人的理解和和解嗎?還是需要一些時間和空間去思考?

      如果《香港花園》有宣傳口號的話,大概會是:「一個安全的空間;一個讓你反
思、和解及改變的避難所。」
      這個花園也許會讓你的力量和信念更堅定?
      它能解釋你過去的行爲和動機嗎?
      你可以做得更好嗎?
      你可以成爲更好的人嗎?
      所有事都會變得更好嗎?

雖然李傑的花園看起來是一個廢墟,卻蘊含著大地回春、花園會重生的希望。聖經中《以賽亞書》的第43章18至19節 ——砰﹗砰﹗砰﹗——亦體現在這個花園:「你們不要記掛從前的事;也不要糾纏在已發生的事…… 我必在曠野開闢道路,在沙漠挖掘江河。」


李傑又選擇了什麽? ——或許是像影片中的小狗一樣,悠然自得地享受日光浴!將煩惱事先抛開吧。

至少享受當下的這一刻。


注釋:

(1) 李傑亦曾在歷史建築物内舉辦過兩場重要的展覽,包括「你。」,香港,土瓜灣,牛棚藝術村(2014);以及「We used to be more sensitive」,日本,東京,原美術館(2018)。有關李傑如何發揮由住宅改建而成的原美術館的建築空間,可參閲我的藝評「李傑」,《藝源》,2018年12月。

(2) 最初被稱作「油街」,在場地關閉之後才被稱作「油街藝術村」。請參閲我的文章:「1998年油街和現今非牟利藝術空間」,《The Peak雜誌》,2015年2月號;以及「香港獨立藝術空間的緣起」,《明報週刊》,2018年4月16日。

(3) 曾建華也曾在油街展出其錄像裝置作品《Prelude to The Seven Bowls》(2013),影片為日本311大地震引發的海嘯所造成的破壞的駭人畫面,好像海浪真的在展廳内盤旋。

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