A space for experimentation in Hong Kong: An interview with Leo and William about SAAL

Date of interview: 14 December 2022

SAAL logo


SAAL is a DIY live music venue which opened in its latest location in Hong Kong’s Kwun Tong area in 2016. It was one of the few smaller-scale spaces in Hong Kong in which local experimental musicians could cut their teeth, as well as a destination for like-minded artists visiting from abroad. There aren’t many such small places for experimental performance in Hong Kong, and so SAAL (taken from the German, meaning a small hall, room, or chamber) represented an important part of the underground music scene here. In 2020 the owners, Leo and William, placed SAAL on hiatus due to the COVID-19 situation as well for various other reasons, so in this interview I wanted to ask them about the development of SAAL, what the space represented for them, for the artists that made use of it, and for Hong Kong more generally, and why they closed the space and their plans for the future. Along the way they pay tribute to their colleague Albert Leung who passed away in 2019, and why noise music in particular needs live spaces to be experienced.

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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.

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ArtSlant: Sehgal’s Antics come to China

Taking the Stage OVER presents – Tino Sehgal

Minsheng Art Museum, Bldg F, No.570 West Huaihai Road, Shanghai

16 July – 14 August, 2011

In amongst the videos and installations by Zhang Peili at the Minsheng Art Museum (which I reviewed here last week), I also had a surprise encounter with the work of Tino Sehgal, whose works of performed discussions as institutional critique added an unusual perspective to the display of new media work.

Under the collective title “Taking the Stage Over,” curator Biljana Ciric has organised a year-long series of events for Shanghai. From July to September she has arranged for Sehgal to present pieces at MOCA Shanghai, then the Minsheng Art Museum, and finally the Rockbund Art Museum. On my visit to the Minsheng, “This is New” and “This is Exchange” had been “installed” in the reception area and in one of the galleries.

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