Incidents of Travel

As part of Moderation(s), the year-long collaboration in 2013 between Witte de With, Rotterdam, and Spring Workshop, Hong Kong, curators-in-residence Latitudes have invited artist Ho Sin Tung to develop a day-long tour of Hong Kong retelling the city and artistic concerns through personal itineraries and waypoints. Ho Sin Tung’s tour of Hong Kong revisits shooting spots (which are still accesible) from her video “Folie à deux” (2011), in which people read aloud their favorite passages with their back to the camera at the spots they chose. Through her reading-and-listening relationship with her readers, intimate and unique memories are created in the locations.

To complement the tour, please check the Twitter, Facebook and Soundcloud posts via Storify. Follow on Twitter: #IncidentsOfTravel #Moderations

‘Incidents of Travel: Hong Kong’

by Ho Sin Tung

29 January 2013

In 2011, I made a video called “Folie à deux” (trailer here), named after a psychological term describing “a condition in which symptoms of a mental disorder, such as the same delusional beliefs or ideas, occur simultaneously in two individuals who share a close relationship or association”. The video is a simple depiction of 17 people reading aloud from a passage from their favourite book with their back to the camera, at different indoor and outdoor locations chosen by each reader.

I know many people read, but only a few read books in a more personal way. The 17 people in “Folie à deux” were carefully selected as I sensed something “passionate” about them and their reading habits. Despite being a friend of the readers, I have never really discussed literature with them.

The places in which the readers chose to read are significant to each, and some locations I am unfamiliar with. However, through filming, listening to their reading, staring at their backs and spending some time with them before and after filming , stories and memories of the places are created. The video gets its name because, through reading, readers unwittingly unburden themselves – you can even see their fragility at that moment – and I am part of it.

I intend to re-visit each location (marked in this map) and by revisiting, I hope to re-tell the stories of each reader and the books they chose. Most of the places included in the trip are actually art spaces and artists’ studio. But through their stories, each place becomes less general and more intimate.

Meeting in Tai Po, New Territories, Hong Kong.

Cho Yun Kei, a favourite noodle spot in Sin Tung’s family, and a very popular destination in Tai Po and beyond.

Breakfast in Tai Po.

Breakfast conversations.

Wandering through Tai Po.

The framers Sin Tung works with in Tai Po.

Tai Po chatting. Artist Ho Sin Tung with Mimi Brown of Spring and Max Andrews of Latitudes.

The ‘hood.

Amazing family-run bean curd shop”Grandma Tofu Pudding” in Tai Po.

Delightful Tai Po treats: warm bean curd flower (also called “soya bean custard” / “bean curd dessert” / “bean curd jelly”) at “Grandma Tofu Pudding”.

Beautiful greens in Tai Po Market.

At Lo Wu station, mainlanders openly smuggle things like baby milk powder from Hong Kong.

Sheung Shui: contrasting architecture.

Sheung Shui dialogues: “…and that? What is it? / Hmmm, I don’t know… / it seems difficult to eat! / Do you think it’s sweet or salty? / It looks more like an offering or maybe used for New Year decoration / I think they look like Wallace & Gromit-like fruit!

Queuing for lunch at the Guong Shing Ice Café in Sheung Shui.

Lunch break: Pinneaple bun, a soft bun with sugar on top and a slice of butter inside.

Recurrent in the Hong Kong shopping landscape: foldable chairs and tables for sale.

Sheung Shui citizen amongst noodles and eggs.

Nam Sang Wai, New Territories, Hong Kong

Reader: Wong Wai Yin
Book: Thomas the Obscure by Maurice Blanchot

Wong Wai Yin is a Hong Kong artist married to Kwan Sheung Chi, also an artist. They are well known for their collaborative work, including a long performance piece,“Everything Goes Wrong for the Poor Couple”. Their work often references literature and they have a wonderful selection of books in their home bookshelf.

Wong Wai Yin brought me to Nam Sang Wai, a place I had never previously visited, and where they had their wedding photographs taken. There has been great discussion over the years about developing the wetland area of Nam San Wai – one of the most beautiful areas in Hong Kong attracting many film directors, “photographers” and their “models”.

Near where we filmed Wong Wai Yin reading, another couple was also taking wedding photos. These things reoccur over and over again in the grassy fields!

Afternoon walk around Nam Sang Wai wetlands.

Exploring Nam Sang Wai wetlands.

Abandoned house in Nam Sang Wai.

Vegetation around Nam Sang Wai wetlands.

For the unwanted visitors, a “scare cormorant” at Nam Sang Wai wetlands.

Further exploration around Nam Sang Wai wetlands.

Abandoned house, favourite spot for Hong Kong TV drama kidnapping scenes.

From here, Sin Tung filmed Wong Wai Yin segment in the video “Folie à deux”.

View from the window.

A busy wedding photo location indeed!

ACO, Foo Tak Building, Wan Chai

Reader: Li João Ye Chun
Book: Slam Dunk by Takehiko Inoue

The owner of the Fuk Tak Building in Wan Chai offers cheap rent to some Hong Kong artists. There is also an English bookshop called ACO on the first floor; not just a bookshop but also a multi-use space for meetings, screenings, and education.

João is a former work colleague whom I admire and is now studying for a PhD in Berlin. He is very left wing and intelligent, but never in an intimidating way. I expected him to read something very academic, but rather than choosing a writer like Kant or Hegel, he picked a Japanese comic book that he liked as a boy. It’s a comic book about basketball.He chose the last basketball match in the comic, and read aloud the count down of the match’s final seconds: 2 seconds, 0.8 seconds, 0.1 seconds, 0 seconds… He chose something from pop culture and found a philosophical aspect to it.

ACO bookstore.

Outside Hong Kong Arts Centre

Reader: Alice Ho
Book: Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

Alice has worked for the Goethe Institute in Hong Kong for many years. I first met her while exhibiting there. She is a very energetic person and full of stories, I had a really good time working with her. The book has always reminded her of her father’s death. While reading, a nearby street musician – unexpectedly – played sad music.

Alice Ho from the Goethe Institute.

Crab buns dinner at “The 369 Shanghai Restaurant” in Wan Chai.

Ho Sin Tung (1986, Hong Kong) graduated from the Fine Arts Department of Chinese University in Hong Kong. She is currently a full-time artist and has a studio located in Fotan, Hong Kong. Sin Tung’s recent work predominantly uses pencil, graphite and watercolour in combination with found and ready-made images – such as stickers, maps, charts, rubber-stamps and timelines. These are reinterpreted to narrate stories of places, relationships and periods of time often within a considered, objective historical setting.

Her most recent exhibitions include “Hong Kong Inter-vivos Film Festival” in
Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong (2012), “You Are Running A Business Called None Of My Business” in Abu Dhabi Art Fair (2011), “Folie à duex” in Experimenta, Hong Kong (2011) and “Don’t Shoot the Messenger” in Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong (2010). She also participated in group shows like “Hong Kong Eye” in Saatchi Gallery, London (2012), “The 9th Shanghai Biennale” in the Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art (2012), “Octopus” in Hanina Contemporary, Tel Aviv, Israel (2011), “Urban Utopia : if and only if” in Goethe Institute, Hong Kong (2011), “Drawing Out Conversation : Taipei” in Nanhai Gallery, Taipei (2010).

More information via Hanart TZ Gallery, Kong Kong.

All photos: Latitudes | (except when noted otherwise in the photo caption)