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When zoo becomes a metaphor

Organised by the Art Promotion Office of the LCSD, exhibition "Hi! Flora, Fauna" ran from mid-January till the end of June 2021. Hong Kong New Music Ensemble was invited as Music Collaborator of the project. Upon the invitation from the Art Promotion Office in late 2019, composer Charles Kwong was commissioned by the Ensemble to curate and create a series of site-specific performances at the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens taking place across the exhibition period. The series of work Lifelike were thus created, taking the landscape design and the zoological attractions at the Gardens as creative references. At the same time, the creative team invited Macao architect duo Impromptu Projects to design a non-conventional stage at the lawn areas of the Gardens. The design of the "stage", titled Chasing Sounds, resembles an open cage, with no entrances nor exits, no inside nor outside. The work Lifelike attempted to reflect on the ideas of zoo.

Originally a four-part performance work taking place in various locations of the Gardens, the execution of Lifelike were affected by the social distancing measures due to the COVID-19. At the end only one part was able to take place as a live performance at the Gardens during the exhibition period; two parts were revised and presented in pre-recorded video format:

Lifelike I

Filmed on 8.2.2021

Lifelike II

Filmed on 9.2.2021

Live performance of Lifelike III on 27.3.2021:

Photos: Cheung Chi Wai

Apart from videos and performance, a website dedicated to this project was created to document the performance of Lifelike and the listening experiences collected during the exhibition period. The creative team was pleased to collaborate with visual artist Frank Tang again, whom we first worked together in the project "Our Audible City", to draw a map of the Gardens. All audio and video collected have been uploaded to the project website. To explore the sound and image documentations collected in different time and space at the Gardens, simply click onto the red dots on the map. Among the documentation are a few sound recordings taken by Charles Kwong at the Mammal Sections of the Gardens, which was temporarily closed due to the COVID-19. The recordings reflect the daily life of the animals in a zoo without tourists.

Frank Tang Kai Yiu

Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens (2020)

Ink and colour on paper

94 x 73.5cm

Chasing Sounds

Architecture Design: Impromptu Projects

Click HERE to go to the project website

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