Alternatives for Performance: Interview with Nerve on the development of his performance since COVID in Hong Kong

Date of original interview: 22 October 2021; UPDATED: February 2023


This interview with Steve Hui, aka Nerve, originally took place in October 2021, and was part of my PhD research into the live-streaming of experimental music in Hong Kong and Mainland China during the COVID-19 restrictions. Hui is an artist, educator, and co-founder of the Twenty Alpha live venue that has been situated in the Foo Tak Building in Hong Kong’s Wan Chai district since March 2018. Twenty Alpha has become one of the main venues in Hong Kong for non-mainstream music and performance generally, and with the COVID-19 restrictions became a base for broadcasting events when audiences could not be invited in. This interview reviews Hui’s approaches to performance over this period, both the broadcasts from Twenty Alpha, as well as the group and solo performances he took part in the tunnels, walkways, and trams of Hong Kong, some of which were live-streamed.

COVID-19 in Hong Kong

Edward Sanderson (ES): I believe the first announcement of COVID in Hong Kong was in February 2020. What was the situation like for you then?

Steve Hui (SH): It was quite traumatic for me. In January 2020 I was in Europe, touring with Absurd TRAX. I came back to Hong Kong on January 30 and then the next day we rehearsed here in Twenty Alpha for the project 0202 2020, an online program lasting for 24 hours non-stop and which was due to happen on February 2. If we hadn’t had this performance, I think I may have stayed in Europe a little bit longer. We had a few members of the audience live in this space, but basically Twenty Alpha was our streaming centre and we would invite people to watch the performance online.

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