Curatorial Statement

VISIONS 2050 - Lifestyle and the City

Hong Kong is at a fascinating yet critical point in its history and its region’s development. It is now time to consider the challenges that face the city and its community. It is vibrant, vital, exciting and most importantly the city is growing having undergone unparalleled transformation in the last fifty years; embracing the technology of the future whilst still retaining its unique values and traditions. Hong Kong is currently one of the most densely populated cities in the world it is also a microcosm of a fast paced emerging multicultural community, already demonstrating how unlikely patterns of function can co-exist. This raises crucial questions ‘ how does the city shape our lifestyle’ and ‘how will our lifestyle shape the future city’. Now we have an opportunity to speculate about the future what ability do we have to influence the way we want to live?

This year’s biennale challenges us to think about change whether through political legislation, financial intervention or architectural design and it is the younger generation of Hong Kong that will be responsible for the city of the future. It is their vision that we seek to capture in this exhibition. A city as complex as Hong Kong has built a rich and varied culture over the last century and much of this has been through the unique development of the city, however the city represents an important urban legacy and it is this that the younger generation will have to build upon. We therefore include critical contributions from established practices, as their work creates the touchstone between the past and future. The historic work of established practices provides the context from which the future city will develop. However we will challenge established practice to identify their current contribution to the urban legacy of the future.

The future requires vision and to develop this needs creativity, freedom of thought and vivid presentation. Setting the framework for the exhibition we will invite a variety of exhibitors including schools and the wider public, to explore the phenomena that drives Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta. The contributors will be from a number of sectors, academia, business and the community collectively drawing a picture of the future. From the design community we will choose practices across several fields including filmmakers, photographers, ecologists, fashion and product designers who all contribute, sometimes imperceptibly to the way we lead our lives. The exhibition does not intend to be an exhaustive survey but more a snapshot of Hong Kong’s imagination, reflecting the complexity and richness of the city’s culture.

The scenarios will consider the intensity of occupation and how a currently seamless infrastructure supplies the city with ubiquitous food, water and commodities all facilitated by advancing technology. We believe it is time to develop a more sustainable framework within which future generations should live.

The dynamic of Hong Kong’s relationship within China is critical and as this forges ahead considerations of the value of its post-colonial heritage present fascinating questions about the blending and tension of these cultural forces. We will imagine how the city changes and we will re-imagine our places of the everyday, the experience of work, leisure and the home.

Through a context of four themes, celebration, gathering, reflection and future we will run a series of workshops and events where the process will become as important as the event as these platforms will raise critical questions about Hong Kong of the future. Can cities find ways to achieve a more balanced relationship with nature – will we work remotely – will there be the need for commuting – how will social organization work, and what effect will this have on our forms of habitation? Will public and private space become less defined and in what way will this fundamentally or perhaps imperceptibly change the way we live in fifty years time?

In the bi-city setting of Hong Kong and Shenzhen we ask ourselves how this unique relationship enables us to consider beyond the merely pragmatic. Some responses will inevitably arise through circumstantial need but others will be more radical.

We particularly want to create an exchange with young people for they will be the next generation who can consider today what their future will be in fifty years time.

Above all, the 2015/16 Biennale is a time for celebration as Hong Kong’s vibrant and inspirational community address issues that are both critically difficult and critically inspiring.