Much of Hong Kong has changed since the Fifties, especially when modernisation made its way to every nook and cranny of Kowloon. Still, much have also remained, especially when we find our way to the Yau Tsim Mong District, where the old and new sit side by side. Thus, while the city is shaped by a tradition of urban transformation, specific places of tradition resist transformation.
The crossing of Nullah Road, Sai Yeung Choi Street, and Tung Choi Street bears witness to this paradoxical scenario. Many would still look for the petrol station that ceased operation a few years ago. Some would remember the theatre showcasing classic Cantonese opera since the Seventies or the old cinema that featured films since the Sixties. And few would recall the nullah or watercourse that was still there in the Fifties or so, when the goldfish market first popped up in the area. For hitherto withstanding the test of time, the District Council awarded it in 2011 a monumental trophy—the infamous Goldfish sculpture most locals and tourists are still raving about.
Amidst the noise of the crowd and the colour of aquatic species that converges in this crossing is a peculiar space of silence out in the open. This space is Nullah No la (魚樂無渠), an empty stage, a blank canvas, a free realm of art. It surreptitiously offers us a window of opportunity to access an imaginary place—an intersection of time and space, memory and territory—by way of art, creativity, and intervention. After all, what better way to defamiliarise our blasé experience of the city’s tradition and transformation than to express ourselves freely?
On 14 November 2015, Saturday, we invited the public, both young and old, to help us transform the Nullah Road Sitting-out Area into an alternative art space together with our six featured artists, who worked on different media from traditional drawing and painting, to sculpture, sound, and performance. Our ‘art day out’ was meant to engage the public, locals and tourists alike, in a meaningful and lively discussion to elicit their understanding of the changeable environment and how they are ultimately responsible for it.
We started to make this happen by simply recognising Nullah No la (魚樂無渠).
Guided by four curatorial teams, Nullah No la (魚樂無渠) featured four interventions.
CHANGE (curated by Aaron Wong, Cathy Ho and Crystal Li, with artists Flying Pig ‘Pat Wong’ and Jarvis Luk) experimented the role of artists in engaging the community in a public space, and to rouse the awareness about the change of Tung Choi Street North—Goldfish market—and the nature of its value fading through the decades.
GOLDFISH YAU YAU YAU (curated by Donna Yuen and Sally Hui, with artist Brandon Chan) welcomed locals and tourists into an interactive experience in recalling and discovering the long forgotten history of Nullah Road.
ALRIGHT TO USE (curated by Milky Choi and Hailey Tsang, with artist Swing Lam) invited locals to recreate and enjoy using their public space which is generally considered as a social space open and accessible for people.
INTERSECTION (curated by Kristian Agustin and Vivian Fung, with artists Terry Ng and Wong Chun Hoi) explored the many theoretical concepts of ‘space’ and ‘place’ and how these could help the public discover new ways of understanding why a lack of space does not necessarily mean a lack of opportunities to be creative.
by Kristian Jeff Cortez Agustin
by 曾凱鈴 (Hailey Tsang)