Saturday, December 29, 2007

Hong Kong Shenzhen Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism/ Architecture

Dear Organizer of HKSZ Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism/ Architecture,

I have visited the Shenzhen section of the Biennale during the
holiday, which was very interesting, consisting of works by
architects, planners, artists, sociologists and writers. All their
contributions are regarded as official participation in the biennale
and included in the catalogue. I have also heard that our Hong Kong
organizer provided a substantial fund in millions HK$ to the Shenzhen

As an artist invited to take part in this Biennale Festival which is
NOT the official Biennale Exhibition as stated, I was already
reminded there will be zero budget and not even installation support
whereas the OFFICIAL biennale participants received a production
budget and are included in the catalogue (not the leaflet which is
ONLY for the Festival artists).

As Hong Kong artists, we all know how difficult to make things happen
here and have all sorts of experience to work in zero budget
exhibition but we also know we're doing meaningful work but no cheap
extras. Artists need to make many efforts to finish a work which is
not meant to just fill up the ample exhibition space in the former
Police Station compound and deserve a little respect.

This HKSZ biennale is generously supported by the Hong Kong
government and the Jockey Club. All visitors to this biennale would
think all participants including artists of this Biennale Festival
got the same support. After all, what's the difference between
Biennale Exhibition, Biennale Festival and/or Biennale Gallery? So it
has to be clarified, not only the names but also the way how it's
organized and curated. I think it is important to let everybody know
whereas huge amount of money is spent on big cultural events and
institutions, there is no corresponding support to small
organizations and artists.

Although I would love to exhibit my work in such a big exhibition, I
have to withdraw as an extra Biennale Festival participant because of
my protest to the organizer's indifference to the artist and its
unfair and unprofessional organization and expenditure.

Leung Chi Wo


Studio bbq said...

Points of clarifications from the HKSZ Biennale organizer:

1. The 7 million budget funded by our 3 main sponsors supports the "Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture" core exhibition and program events in the field of architecture, planning and design disciplines. The budget is already very tight for supporting more than 60 local and international exhibitors, and the tremendous extent of basic improvement works to the whole venue for the event.

2. The parallel exhibitors of the main Biennale exhibition receive no financial support for their exhibitions.

3. With an aim to create a cross-disciplinary platform for the bienanle, a Biennale Festival which includes the Biennale Gallery is conceived with a much smaller budget totally independent from the main event.

4. The final sponsorship secured is only one-fifth of the proposed budget of the Festival with our own curatorial effort. Effectively it is running on an extremely tight budget with the same variety of programs from seminars, workshops, tours to art exhibitions.

5. Even though we were appointed to curate an exhibition event solely on architecture, planning and design fields, we really treasure and appreciate very much the contribution of the artist community in the coming Architecture Biennale. This is the sole reason why we try to provide a venue and a platform for the artists who could produce work at their own cost with their kind understanding of our very limited budget.

Studio bbq said...

My response to the organizer:

1. But what is the amount of fund provided to the Shenzhen exhibition?

2. Why make the difference between the "more than 60 local and international exhibitors" and the "parallel exhibitors" who are not given financial support? What are the criteria to allocate funding?

3. Doesn't it mean the Biennale Festival is less important that doesn't deserve same level of support from the organizer? Why not promote this "cross-disciplinary platform" among the "more than 60 local and international exhibitors"?

4. It's a matter of priority to spend the money. And then it's the organizers' responsibility to get extra funding for these other activities if you really want to make them happen. Shifting this responsibility to the artists or other participants is not acceptable.

5. As professional practitioners, we all know the limit of resources and often try to push the limit at the same time we make sure all parties involved are well respected. No one's passion in his/her work should be exploited for others' ambition. Of course better understanding each other can be achieved by thorough communication which (unfortunately didn't happen this time) however should not legitimize the unreasonable.