Vvzela Kook - Fragrant Little Haven 曲倩雯《芳香小天堂》

Exhibition dates 展覽日期: 22.3-5.5.2019

 “A mile or so away, at the top of terraced rice-fields, stood (and still stands) the little village of Hong Kong Wai - the village of the Fragrant Lagoon...It is easy to see ... how finally, as steam succeeded sail, the fragrant little haven on the south yielded to the great harbour over the
hill.”
  ------- Hong Kong, 1841-1862 Birth, Adolescence and Coming of Age by Geoffrey Robley Sayer

Fragrant Little Haven takes a description from Geoffrey Robley Sayer. Hong Kong, means fragrant harbour in Chinese, was only a name of a village at the south of Hong Kong Island before the English came. It was a harbour for transporting the luxury Aquilaria sinensis trees, which produces agarwood, a valuable fragrant wood used for incense and medicine. One and half centuries have past, the artist found out that at least 180 streets in Hong Kong were named after plants.

Hong Kong is no longer the name of a village, the once prosperous habitat for vegetation now replaced by concrete jungle, with only the names on street signs reminding the passers-by of its forgotten past, past with colonial histories that are heavy, hard to imagine, meanwhile romantic. These hundreds of streets shared the same beautiful and romantic street names, becoming Hong Kong, becoming the history of Hong Kong.


Exhibition Notes

Seeing into the cracks and the crevices, the hidden elements of the city, the forgotten paths, rubble of a past that now only leaves enough for us to linger and ponder its mystery and violence. We forget that this city used to be a dense jungle populated by plants and flowers. What green, what fragrance, aromas, density and vastness have been lost in little more than one and a half centuries?

Over her 5 years in Hong Kong, Vvzela has been drawn to the contradicting practice of representing life through infrastructure and urbanisation, a systematic removal of life itself. In a name, “Maple Street”, “The Phoenix”, “Hollywood Road”, and “Lyndhurst Terrace”, what information is contained and how much is permanently concealed. 


Fragrant Little Haven is drawn from Geoffrey Robley Sayer’s historical account of the city in the mid-19th century (the setting up of the British Colonial empire). What is he, a colonial representative, running from? Does he disagree with the violence, or is home a threat? If one reads Sayer’s biography one senses that he struggled with the demands of the colonial government – questioned for his policies, taking considerable periods of time off, returning to Hong Kong, only to encounter criticism again. If the Fragrant Harbour, with its mysterious islands and dense forests was a place of protection then why alter the Haven and its fragrance, only to mirror the very place he is running from?


Translated, Hong Kong means “incense harbour” or “fragrant harbour”. The relationship between agarwood and the history of Hong Kong is intertwined. These trees were planted in Hong Kong and incense traders would make them into incense and exported them into Asia; The Phoenix tree was introduced to Hong Kong from Madagascar in the early 20th century. Known for its fiery red blossoms, that at full bloom illuminate the sky in hues of reds, oranges and vermillion, city planners brought the Phoenix as part of its plan to expand the urban areas, masking the violence of the process. Some historical documents say that the area where the British took Possession of the island, a street between Sheung Wan and Sai Ying Poon, was once lined with Holly trees. The mundane, and likely story is that the street was named after the then Governor Davis’ home in Bristol ‘Hollywood Tower’. Because, in fact, the Holly tree had no traces in Hong Kong during that time. 


Vvzela cultivates a museum for us that begins to tell the stories of Agarwood, The Phoenix and Holly. Within the museum a world is created: one embarks a ship traversing waters and islands from lands before and after the Fragrant Harbour. One must follow mythical maps that journeys through imagine past and futures. On our excursion, we capture scented oils of agar wood and holly, and over time, our memories are organically marked by the fragrance of this mysterious harbour.


 【About Vvzela Kook】

Vvzela Kook is a new media artist who mainly works in audiovisual mediums, including performance, theatre, generative video and drawing. Her audiovisual works combine media with performance; they explore the possibility of coexistence between contemporary performance types, like dance or choreography, and computer-generated new media.

Kook’s video works combine technology with her artistic practice to reproduce and convert urban cityscapes into an integrated virtual experience, guiding the audience on a cybernetic journey. The condensed textures in her works connect with multiple sensual levels in our perception and
reintroduce the unexplored potential of video as a medium.

Kook has participated and shown her works in Microwave International Media Festival in Hong Kong (2018), PuSh Performing Art Festival in Vancouver(2017), Mill6 Foundation (2017), Microwave International Media Festival in Hong Kong (2016), K11 Shanghai (2016), Hong Kong Arts Festival (2015), Sound Art China Exhibition (2013), Frischzelle Festival and Dusseldorf Festival (2012), and “89+”program (2012) co-curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Simon Castets.



「距離這裡約一英里遠的稻米梯田上,有一條名叫『香港圍』的小村落,意指芳香瀉湖上的村落…隨著蒸汽成就了航海業的發展,這條位於南部的芳香小天堂逐漸發展成山另一端繁華的港口。」
節錄自佘義(Geoffrey Robley Sayer)著作《Hong Kong, Birth, Adolescence and Coming of Age》

「芳香小天堂」(Fragrant Little Haven)一詞源自港英時代公務員兼史學家佘義對於香港的描述。「香港」意即「充滿香氣的港口」,本是指英殖時代前、位於香港島南部一條平凡的村落。當時這裡是運送用作焚香或藥材的名貴沉香木的港口。一個半世紀過去了,藝術家曲倩雯發現到香港至少有180條街道均以植物命名。

星移物換,香港不再只是一條村落的名字,昔日植物繁茂的棲息地現已被石屎森林取代,唯有街道名字提醒我們關於香港被遺忘了的過去,那些無比沉重,難以想像的歷史,同時卻又充滿著浪漫情懷。這數以百條的街道擁有同樣醉人浪漫的名字,成為了香港,成為了香港的歷史。 


展覽札記

 

在裂縫和縫隙之間,城市裡隱藏的元素,被遺忘的路徑,失落的廢墟只僅僅剩下。我們忘記了這座城市曾經是一片茂密的叢林。在一個半世紀的歲月裡,到底這城市失去了多少馥郁芬芳?

曲倩雯從五年多前來港定居後,她很快就著迷思考怎樣展現城市系統的結構。從名字本身,「楓樹街」、「鳳凰樹」、 「荷里活道」和「擺花街」,探索著背後隱藏著的種種。


「芳香小天堂」(Fragrant Little Haven,直譯為小香江)源自佘義在19世紀中期(英國建立其殖民帝國期間)對這座城市的描述。他作為是一個殖民者,從何而來?他是否否定暴力,還是對家的威脅?假若你曾讀過佘義的傳記,或許會感覺到他與殖民政府的要求所作出的抗爭中費盡心力,當他有重返香港,只是再度遭受抨擊。如果香港這個神秘的島嶼和茂密的森林是一個需要被保護的地方,那麼為甚麼要改變避風港的本質,是否只為了反映他所經營的地方?


沉香樹是與香港歷史交織在一起。這種樹木原產於香港,香燭貿易商將它們變成香燭出口到亞洲;鳳凰樹於20世紀初從馬達加斯加引入香港。城市規劃者以盛開的紅色花朵而命名,以紅色,橙色和朱紅色調照亮天空;根據一些歷史文件,英國的佔領區,上環和西營盤之間的街道,曾經擁有過冬青樹(Holly Tree)。街道亦可能根據當時港督戴維斯在布里斯托的祖家「荷里活樓」(Hollywood Tower)而命名,因為在那個時候,冬青樹在香港仍沒有任何痕跡存在過。


曲倩雯為建構了一個關於沉香樹、鳳凰樹和冬青樹的博物館。這博物館內創造了一個世界:人們在港口乘船穿越水域和島嶼。通過這神秘的地圖,穿越想像、過去和未來。在這個漫遊歷程中,我們提煉出沉香樹和冬青樹的香油,時間的輪盤將繼續轉動,這個神秘港口有機地烙印在我們的記憶之中。


 【關於曲倩雯】

曲倩雯 (b.1990, 生活工作於香港) 新媒體藝術家曲倩雯, 主要以聲音視覺作為創作媒介, 包括聲音視 覺現場演出, 劇場, 衍生藝術(generative art)與繪畫。她的聲音視覺作品結合現場演出, 探索 與當代表演類型, 如舞蹈, 編舞, 與計算機生成藝術之間共存的可能性。

她的視覺作品結合了技術與她的藝術實踐, 以再現和轉換城市景觀為一個集成的虛擬體 驗, 引導觀眾在符控流域旅行。她作品當中的多重的紋理與我們感知的多個感官相連, 重新介 紹視頻作為一種媒介的潛力。 


她曾經參與PuSh Performing Art Festival in Vancouver(2017), Mill6 Foundation (2017), 香 港微波國際藝術節(2016),香港藝術節(2015), 中國聲音藝術大展(2013), 德國 Friszchelle藝術 節, 杜塞爾多夫藝術節(2012)與 Hans Ulrich Obrist 與 Simon Castets 共同策劃的“89+”計 劃(2012)。