Next month, Hong Kong will be represented at the 15th Venice Biennale International Architecture Exhibition by a group of young architects and artists
Pritzker-Prize-winner Alejandro Aravena is the curator of the 15th Venice Biennale International Architecture Exhibition, and last year called for exhibits under the theme of "Reporting from the Front". The theme was chosen to encourage international exhibitors to share constraints and challenges, believing that collective wisdom could spark fresh imagination and break new grounds. In response to this, Hong Kong Institute of Architects (HKIA) put out an open call to young architects who wanted to be considered for the role of chief curator for the Hong Kong exhibit.
With his proposal Stratagems in Architecture: Hong Kong in Venice, Stanley Siu was chosen curate the Hong Kong exhibit. His vision employs the classical Chinese essay Thirty-Six Stratagems – a collection of military tactics applied during wars in ancient China. Siu and his curatorial team aim to show the world how young Hong Kong architects and artists break the norms and test the limits of the city to unleash their own unique vitality and imagination.
"In my statement I had identified many regional frontiers or 'battle grounds' in Hong Kong that related to Aravena's call. Hong Kong is driven by economics; it's all about development and making money, but to us – this younger generation – we are more concerned about the minorities and the local community," notes Siu.
The young architect – who received the Young Architect Award 2013 from the Hong Kong Institute of Architects – approached 17 other young architects and artists to contribute to the exhibition. Each chose a war stratagem from the essay to be symbolically represented through their exhibit, including: "Kill With A Borrowed Sword", "Play Dumb While Remaining Smart" and "Run Away".
It was important for the group to create an exhibition that is vastly different to anything ever shown before by Hong Kong at the Biennale. For many years, the region has been portrayed at the event as solely a home for mammoth skyscrapers and mixed-use developments being executed by international firms. Instead, this year will see projects such as the renovation of the iconic Blue House and preserved village housing as the visual link to Hong Kong and its architecture.
"The Hong Kong team leverages on the Stratagems in Architecture, a concoction blending architecture with ancient Chinese war wisdom to surmount difficulties and achieve groundbreaking creations. Motivating us all is the Hong Kong spirit of unparalleled perseverance which is known to be capable of turning adversities into opportunities," says Siu.
Sponsored by Create Hong Kong (CreateHK) of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and with the Hong Kong Institute of Architects (HKIA) as partner, The Hong Kong Institute of Architects Biennale Foundation (HKIABF) is co-organising the exhibition with the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC). The exhibition will run until 27 November at Campo della Tana, opposite the main entrance of Arsenale, Venice.