A Matter of Ownership:

an Exchange between Para/Site and The Substation (aka On Space)

2005 / Book art / a print work extending the exhibition and screening events of Para/Site and The Substation’s exchange / conceived and edited by Linda C.H. LAI

A Matter of Ownership began as the proceedings for an exhibition and symposium series curated by Leung Chi-wo (Para/Site, Hong Kong) in Singapore (The Substation). In the making process of the book, it grew into an extension of the events and a series of post-exhibition art on paper, beyond the parameters of the exhibition.

Ownership, the Basic Story… Whose Story?

The five narratives interrogating our “ownership” of the city space of Hong Kong presented at Substation (Singapore) all take a polemic stance. They bear tangential relations to the prime story of how the HK government takes care of its people.

This prime story traces the shifts from the HK government’s provisions of loans and land resources to enable willing organizations to help construct concrete homes for needy people, to the government’s direct administration since the 1960s, and to the current strategy of involving the private sectors to build and manage these homes. The move from subsidized housing to private home ownership is persistent.

This prime story also demonstrates a series of change of vision, from the provisions of a roof top to the homeless, to the systematic tightening up of communities within and around the urban core, maturing with emergence of the idea of a “comprehensive housing plan” in the 1970s, to the concentrated efforts to project what an ideal home should be for the ordinary people.

Embedded in the notion of the ideal home are factors “scientifically” identified against the contexts of Hong Kong’s environmental and physical geographical features, as well as accounts of Hong Kong people’s average lifestyle. Tim Li’s “Shadow Casts in Time & Space,” his recreation of the “ideal home,” placed right after the chronology, is, therefore, at once visionary, projectile and dialectic. (Linda Lai)