This blog post marks a return to the originally intended subject matter of my recently-completed PhD – that being a study of the physical spaces for the performance of experimental music and sound art in China. Such was my original direction, before the outbreak of COVID-19 forced performance spaces to close (temporarily or, in some cases, permanently), and all public gatherings to be restricted, a situation which led me to consider live-streaming as a space of performance for many of the same artists under these conditions. So here we are, in the long-tail of COVID-19, and while in the near future I plan to return to Mainland China to resume my fieldwork, in the meantime there are spaces in Hong Kong, where I live, that I can learn from.
The interview below stemmed from my first visit to Peng Chau, one of the outer islands of Hong Kong and an hour’s ferry trip from the main urban area of the city. That trip was for a performance by Karen Yu and Olivier Cong, part of a series of experimental music events organised by the musician Nelson Hiu and hosted by the Islander’s Space bookshop. Through Nelson I contacted Kit Chan, one of the owners of Islander’s Space, and had a conversation with him about the space and its relation to the performance of experimental music, and the island’s overall social dynamic. Many thanks to Kit for his time and patience on this.
I mentioned in a comment over at HomeShop’s blog, that I had fortuitously picked up a copy of Slavoy Žižek’s Violence last night. I only had time to read the Introduction (“THE TYRANT’S BLOODY ROBE”), but the ideas outlined there seemed apposite to the last part of my article on Gentrification on the blog, displaying in themselves strong links to Agamben’s thought. The following are selected quotes, pulling out the parts which relate to my own interests (and undoubtedly doing great violence to Žižek’s overall meaning in the process):
“… we should learn to step back, to disentangle ourselves from the fascinating lure of this directly visible “subjective” violence, violence performed by a dearly identifiable agent. We need to perceive the contours of the background which generates such outbursts. A step back enables us to identify a violence that sustains our very efforts to fight violence and to promote tolerance.
“This is not a description which locates its content in a historical space and time, but a description which creates, as the background of the phenomena it describes, an inexistent (virtual) space of its own, so that what appears in it is not an appearance sustained by the depth of reality behind it, but a decontextualised appearance, an appearance which fully coincides with real being.
“Does this recourse to artistic description imply that we are in danger of regressing to a contemplative attitude that somehow betrays the urgency to ‘do something’ about the depicted horrors?
“There are situations when the only truly ‘practical’ thing to do is to resist the temptation to engage immediately and to ‘wait and see’ by means of a patient, critical analysis.”
Over at the HomeShop blog, I’ve been invited to write about the subject of gentrification. The first part of three has just been published, and there I’m thinking about the nature of gentrification and its causes and effects on local communities. I’m focusing on two examples: HomeShop’s own situation, and my home town of New Malden (in the South-West of London) which has seen the development of Europe’s largest South Korean community.
UPDATE: All three part have now been published on the HomeShop blog: