YELLOW BAMBOO GROVE
On a whirlwind visit to my home city of Hong Kong, I find my-self zipping between rumbling cars and clicking traffic lights. I’m visiting the air-conditioned galleries sequestered in the south side’s nondescript industrial zone, just a mountain range away from Hong Kong’s effulgent and buzzy business and shopping district. As manufacturing business has dwindled, I’ve witnessed many grimy utilitarian buildings, lining the main roads full of car exhaust, becoming vacant, before being transformed into elegant art spaces. One of these was Spring Workshop, a residency and multi-disciplinary non-profit I directed between 2015 and 2017. The district, Wong Chuk Hang – which literally translates into ‘Yellow Bamboo Grove’ in English – was lush with vegetation until medium and light factories cropped up post-WWII along the shores of Aberdeen. The eclectic coexistence of exuberant nature trails, industry and coastline is idiosyncratic of the city’s discrepant layers of textures and modes, and forms the evocative backdrop of Wu Tsang’s commission Duilian (2016) with Spring Workshop, inspired by the feminist revolutionary and poet Qiu Jin and calligrapher Wu Zhiying (played by Tosh Basco and Wu Tsang, respectively) in 19th century China. By reading between the lines of their poetry, the artist fittingly recasts their relationship, queerness and revolutionary fervour in post-colonial Hong Kong, a space whose anxious identity and history is subject to continuous overwriting.