West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) is conceived as a low-density development with a large open space. A part of the focus is raising awareness in the arts and culture among the general public. WKCD has yet to exist in material form due to multiple feasibility studies, public engagement with stakeholders and debates on the space as a cultural capital. With an aim to establish a new vibrant cultural quarter on a dramatic harbour-front site in the heart of Hong Kong, WKCD curates collections, events, exhibitions, festivals, galleries and buildings in order to connect the broad population.

One successful attempt in attracting an audience of over 150,000 visits was the Mobile M+ Inflation! by M+. The public art exhibition in WKCD features a huge inflatable dog feces, a mega black cockroach and a giant suckling pig, all set against a backdrop of multinational hyper-real estates. This was a case of public engagement using controversy in the nature of public art.

 

Mobile M+ Inflation!

Another dynamic facet of WKCD is M+ which is a new museum for visual culture, focusing in 20th and 21st century art, design, architecture and moving image. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the physical building is slated for completion by 2018. M+ embraces the entire spectrum of spaces, means of display and activities related to exhibiting and viewing these media. The key problem-turned-opportunity was the underground tunnel of the Airport Express since the project sits on a site of reclaimed land. Hence, by uncovering the tunnel, a spectacular space is created for art and design, installation and performance. This excavation reveals the nature of a second order, a “Found Space” which challenges artists and curators with a space of unprecedented potential, and eventually, setting a stage for a unique art experience.

“Found Space”

 

Like Hong Kong, Singapore has a well established reputation as an economic powerhouse and a center for international finance and as an entrepreneurial hub. However, the cultural scene in visual and performing arts is relatively slower in maturing. Surely, art activities, patronage and attendance at exhibitions have increased since the past few years, but the growth has been marred by much criticisms. In WKCD, many thought that it was a result of real estate instead of a vibrant cultural development. Did the art and the culture really exist in retrospect?

Slowly, the optimistic trend is deviating towards a new dimension in art, culture and design, partially driven by focused community spaces particularly in Singapore. Perhaps the initial step is to activate public engagement, in the highlighted exhibition Mobile M+ Inflation! as a form of visual representation that has aroused mixed reactions. Subsequently, with a diversity of audiences, the momentum continues in a nomadic style in which the M+ has intended, to be an open musuem “without walls”. Indeed, a radical space shall follow the idea of having a fresh and ever-changing arts and culture content, and furthermore, advocating an expression of freedom with a tinge of humour. Will perceptions change over time with the provision of new spaces?

 

 

References:
1. West Kowloon Cultural District, <http://www.westkowloon.hk/en>
2. M+, <http://www.herzogdemeuron.com/index/projects/complete-works/401-425/415-m-plus.html>
3. M+, <http://www.designboom.com/architecture/herzog-de-meuron-reveal-new-images-of-m-museum/>
4. Mobile M+ Inflation!, <http://hk-magazine.com/events/hong-kong-arts-festivals/mobile-m-inflation>
5. Mobile M+ Inflation!, <http://www.creativetransformations.asia/2013/06/public-art-raises-attention-to-hong-kongs-west-kowloon-cultural-district/>