Text and images by Chloe Ting, MA Culture, Criticism and Curation at Central Saint Martins
Chloe Ting, MA Culture, Criticism and Curation student at Central Saint Martins was selected for the 2016 UAL Art for the Environment International Residency (AER) at Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art. Here is Chloe’s report:
I spent two weeks in Manchester at the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) during the end of my Master’s programme at Central Saint Martins for a research-based residency. I had moved to London from Hong Kong for a year to attend my course, and the residency provided me with an opportunity to reflect on my personal experience of moving between countries and cultures. I applied for the programme hoping to think about environmental concerns that define the 21st century including environmental sustainability, social economy and human rights in the context of the UK.
In Hong Kong, there are many urban agricultural organisations that have been set up in recent years such as rooftop farming (eg. HK Farm, Rooftop Republic, Time to Grow), community farms (eg. Mapopo Community Farm, Sangwoodgoon), and guerrilla gardeners. This phenomenon is a testament to the burgeoning local foods movement. Hong Kong is a city that is known internationally for the image of uncensored capitalism. Capitalist conditions affect the daily consciousness of people and several grassroots movement have been developed to circumvent the existing capitalist forces that dictate livelihood and manipulate human relationships, one of which is urban agricultural initiatives. This movement involves environmental missions that encourage community’s resilience to climate change by absorbing storm water, counteracting the urban heat island effect and converting food waste into compost. The set of practices constitutes a social movement that is actively reclaiming control over food production and consumption and becomes a significant force of social activism. There are many artists that are involved in the social movement, as local artists have increasingly been engaging in the social practice for their inspiration and daring to use art to make an impact in our world. With notions of land ownership and spatial organisation of a city in mind, I thought about spatial usages and how that can affect experiences of everyday life.