Wang Sixin
Melancholic Temporality

Thesis supervisor: Mr. Alan Tay

Site: Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s historical background provides fertile grounds for playing out bouts of melancholia and uncertainty. This sadness has its roots in nostalgia and has always shaped my imagination of the city. The investigation began with my fascination with the melancholic filmic stylings of Hong Kong cinema in its portrayal of Hong Kong’s identity as a constant space of negotiation, transferred between the hands of different sovereignties. As governed by deadlines, the Hong Kong Condition is one of “borrowed place on borrowed time” (Abbas, 1997). The ambiguous

“One Country Two Systems” policy that marks the passing of the pre-1997 era has evoked longstanding anxieties. With the gradual normalization of social protests, these insecurities are still unresolved at this point of time, culminating into the 2019-20 Extradition Bill Protests. The thesis is premised on the scenario that the presiding Hong Kong government relented and conceded to all the Five Demands, in the interest to move on and unite the broken city.

Five interventions in different sites are proposed to celebrate a temporal resolution, by meeting each demand. These vessels attempt to interprete and make physical the often ambiguous meaning or values these political demands carry. They appear to be more than symbols of victory but

attempts to bridge differences, heal and to activate social change towards a more peaceful political environment. At least, that was the official intent or declaration. The resolutions are at best temporal, possibly breaking down anytime.

Vessel No. 1: Wall of Transparency

Demand: Independent Investigation into Police Brutality

 

Once known as “Asia’s finest”, the unprecedented use of violence by the Hong Kong Police Force and unaddressed doubts surrounding unaccountable arrest procedures has triggered widespread fear and anger of society,

resulting in persistent clashes between the police and the public in the form of police station blockades and street standoffs. The addition of a front annex block of interrogation rooms looks at increasing transparency of police procedures by magnifying the process of arrest. However, the glass facade may also function as yet another defensive barrier of the institution.

Vessel No. 2: Hiding Above Ground

Demand: Retract Characterization of June 12 Protests as “Riot”

 

The label of “riot” on a social movement striving for political change serves to delegitimise and deprive protesters of basic rights to protection and proper medical care. The chaotic nature of the protests further

increases the risks of injuring live reporters, medics and civilians. Envisioned as a ‘safe refuge’, temporary holding pods are located at junctions along the main protest routes. With its high vantage point, they provide shelter as well as capturing a panoramic view of the street, which could be utilized on more than one occasion.

Vessel No. 3: People's Liberation Park

Demand: Permanent Withdrawal of Extradition Bill

 

The controversy of the bill lies in the legal and physical implications of extending Chinese presence in HK territory. ‘港’as a derivative of an archipelago around a natural harbour, the once unobstructed waterfront since handover however bore witness to the increasing dominance of

railways, bridges and cordoned off portions of the water promenade, inciting insecurities around Chinese power. People’s Liberation Park looks at building an alternative peak  over the original military berth to counter the dominance of the PLA on HK Island, reshaping the territorial border of HK. Yet underlying this terrain we may unearth more potentials of its original program.

Vessel No. 4: Wall that Forgets

Demand: Release of Arrested Protesters without Charges

 

The demand for amnesty implies the foregoing of any judicial process and amnesia of the deeds done in the protest. Forgetting is prerequisite for the city to reconcile its differences and move on. The HKPU bridge is

retrofitted with new flanking walls that are inscribed with the names of the arrested protesters. The wall serves as a memorial to commemorate these “freedom fighters”, their names on the wall vanishes over time as the city heals, so it seems.

Vessel No. 5: Mirror of Misdirection

Demand: Implement Universal Suffrage

 

Full political autonomy would be impossible under “One country,..” policy. However, the governing body can be subjected to more accountability to its citizens. The proposed new seating arrangement in 

new seating arrangement in the parliamentary chamber mirrors an ‘equal’ representation of the people in the legislative process. However the transfiguration of the chamber that seems to embrace the democratic process oud drastically go wayward.