Videotage Logo
Both Sides Now II: It Was the Best Of Times, it was the worst of times? 彼岸觀自在貳:最好的時代,最壞的時代?

Both Sides Now II: It Was the Best Of Times, it was the worst of times?彼岸觀自在貳:最好的時代,最壞的時代?

Artist Residency
Artist Talk
09/10/2015 - 01/11/2015

‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’ is the famous opening line of Charles Dickens’ book A Tale of Two Cities, which depicts the complexity of the French Revolution and the parallel ugly world of London life that took place at the same time. Despite the horrors of mob violence portrayed in the novel not occurring in Hong Kong in the present, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’ is nevertheless the ideal description of the current situation in Hong Kong and beyond.

Perhaps we should celebrate Hong Kong’s recent best of times. The sesame-seed-sized city, which transformed from a cottage industry economy to a gleaming financial centre, enjoyed a strong Hang Seng Index and excellent tourist figures in 2014. From the Golden Bauhinia statue, with the backdrop of magical fireworks that light up the synchronised dance of the neon skyline, to the hustle and bustle in the shopping malls – Hong Kong’s accomplishments are vitally connected to the flourishing age of China. The successful story of Hong Kong grows onward from being an entrepot of the East/West to being a part of China, the new super power of the world.

Apart from the unabashedly postcard views of Hong Kong’s skyline, zooming in at street level one can also see Hong Kong’s best time, from a different angle, in 2014. From the micro-communities that emerged on the unprecedented car-free streets to live music that was in sync with thousands of friendly smiles, many finally found the city they grew up in. In daylight, without the glitz and glamour of nightly neon lights, the iconic Lion Rock Mountain glowed, returning the spirit of action to Hong Kong’s people, and a sense of home and belonging. In smoke-filled air, through tears, the new generation of Hong Kongers found their way.

No matter which perspective you prefer, 2014 was with little doubt Hong Kong’s best time. But what about the worst? According to a survey conducted by the Sunday Times, London has more billionaires than any other city in the world, with Hong Kong in sixth place for number of billionaires. In an age of meritocratic ideals when aristocracy has virtually been abolished, perhaps the current ‘prosperity’ is too opaque to get a clear picture of reality. In a time when the Bauhinia is coated with shiny gold, perhaps it is too luxurious to even think about what is the worst. The rose, the national flower of England, planted in Hong Kong by people from the other side of the world, has become the ever-flourishing flower in collective and romantic memories.

In contrast, the UK could be said to be experiencing a very clear worst of times. A country being thrust into austerity, the threatened deconstruction of the welfare state to 1930s’ standards, and the NHS on the edge of privitisation, there is a sense of foreboding darkness. In 2014, the United Kingdom came close to disuniting, with the Scottish referendum at 45% yes votes; Scotland almost went its own way. And with a European referendum planned for 2017, there is the possibility of leaving the EU. The UK is in cultural, financial and national identity crisis.

The UK government is aggressively attacking its people – with citizens legally voting in a pro-austerity, pro-NHS-privitisation agenda. It is the worst of times. For some. Many.

Opposingly, the UK remains in the G7, one of the richest developed countries in the world. The UK has the most progressive equality rights for LGBT people globally. It supports and promotes internationally recognised arts and heritage through national funding programmes, and has some of the best universities in the world. Yet inequality is strife.

Both Sides Now 2 attempts, through moving image works, to explore national identity and culture, and to raise questions about both China & Hong Kong and the UK. Comparisons between both countries arise – revolution and referendum, richness and austerity, lions and tigers. And unicorns.

Both Sides Now 2 – It was the Best of Times, it was the Worst of Times? is the second phase of a long-term project that proposes (historical) re-readings of artists’ moving image from Hong Kong, China and the UK. By selecting video works of art, animations and documentary films, produced by Hong Kong and UK artists from 1989 to 2014, the project will reinterpret the experience of here and now by looking into the potentially excluded and forgotten moving images of Hong Kong.

In the new edition, videoclub (UK) and Videotage (HK) bring together internationally-recognised artists from the fields of video and film during a several month-long programme from June – December 2015. To build on the ideas posited from the success of Both Sides Now – Somewhere between Hong Kong and the UK, 15 art organisations in the UK, China and Hong Kong will take part in various extensive screenings, exhibitions and artists-in-residence programmes.

Both Sides Now is part of the new initiative Acentered – Reterritorized Network of European and Chinese Moving Image, which is a project umbrella that interlinks extensive media art institutions in China and Europe.  To build on the ideas posited from the success of Both Sides Now, Videotage and videoclub are planning to further initiate exchanges between Europe and China with an eye towards the future of experimental moving image. Acentered will continue to explore moving image from regional, national and global perspectives. By initiating long term collaborations between extensive European and Chinese art institutions, Acentered will aim to stimulate minds and broaden horizons for institutions and individuals alike on both sides of the world.


讓我們來歌頌這最好的時代吧!彈丸之地的香港由蕞爾漁村到世界金融中心,無論是恆生指數或是遊客數目,在2014年都節節攀升。不管是灣仔那永遠盛放的金紫荊,或是煙花和霓虹燈光交織而成的維港夜景,或是熙來攘往肩摩轂擊的購物商場,凡此種種都寄寓著城中不少人的願景:在中國的盛世底下,香港抓著了機遇,繼續繁榮昌盛。香港成功的故事將會延續下去,角色也不再單單是東西之間浮游的轉口港,而是新的超級大國— 中國的一部分。



然而,英國政府卻動員支持者來攻擊反緊縮和反國民保健私有化的聲音對一些– 不,對很多英國人來說,現在都是最壞的時代。


彼岸觀自在II:最好的時代,最壞的時代? 就借用各類流動的影像去探討及反思中國、香港、英國三地的身分認同及文化問題。中、港、英三地遇到的問題其實都是息息相關。無論是政治上的變革或公投,經濟上的富裕和緊縮,到國家的象徵如英國的獅子(或應加上蘇格蘭的獨角獸?)和中國的龍–也都是似曾相識。


在這為期數月(2015年7月至12月)的活動中,錄映太奇及英國的videoclub將會與一眾國際知名的錄像藝術家們合作。如同之前大獲好評的 彼岸觀自在I:這麼近那麼遠一樣,將會有多達十五個來自中國、香港、英國的團體參與放映會、展覽及駐場藝術家的活動。


event details /

chi K11 art space
Opening date and times: 9 October 2015, 6:30pm
Exhibition dates: 9 October – 1 November 2015
Address: B207, Chi K11 Art Space, K11 Art Mall, 18 Hanoi Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

V Art Centre
Opening date and times: 15 August 2015, 6pm
Exhibition dates: 15 – 30 Agugst 2015
Address: Space 1 (view point) : 2F, Building 3, No.50 Moganshan Rd, Shanghai 200060

Opening date and times: 24 September 2015, 6-8:30pm
Exhibition dates: 25 September – 6 December 2015
Address: Market Buildings, 13 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1EU

Connecting Spaces
Screening of films by artists from China and Hong Kong.
Date and time: 10 October 2015, 3pm
Address: G/f, 18-20 Fort Street, Wah Kin Mansion, North Point, Hong Kong

British Council, Hong Kong
Screening of films by artists from the UK.
Date and time: 22 October 2015, 3pm
Address: 3 Supreme Court Road, Admiralty, Hong Kong Island

Residency Programme
Daniel Shanken at Wuhan K11 Art Village, Wuhan, China
Residency dates: 19 July – 15 August 2015

Lucy Clout at V Art Center, in association with Chronus Art Center, Shanghai, China
Residency dates: 1 – 16 August 2015

Shi Zheng at Phoenix Brighton with Cinecity at the University of Brighton, UK
Residency dates: 22 October – 10 November 2015

Wong Ping at Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, Manchester, UK
Residency dates: 25 September – 6 December 2015

chi K11 art space
開幕: 2015年10月9日, 下午 6:30
展覽日期: 2015年10月9日– 11月1日
地址: B207, chi K11 art space, K11 Art Mall, 18 Hanoi Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

開幕: 2015年8月15, 下午6:00
展覽日期: 2015年8月15 – 30日
地址: Space 1 (view point) : 2F, Building 3, No.50 Moganshan Rd, Shanghai 200060

開幕: 2015年9月24日, 下午6:00 – 8:30
展覽日期: 2015年9月25日 – 12月6日
地址: Market Buildings, 13 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1EU

2015年7月7日, Phoenix, 萊斯特
2015年7月12日, Electric Palace Cinema, 海斯汀斯
2015年7月14日, Fabrica, 布賴頓
2015年7月15日, Aspex Gallery, 朴次茅夫
2015年9月26日, ICA, 倫敦
2015年11月29日, HOME, 曼徹斯特

videotage programme history /