At the core of the project is a looped video which presents a slow-motion transit of the space between the Hong Kong and Shenzhen immigration points of the Hong Kong / Mainland China internal border. We have already left Hong Kong when the video starts but we never arrive in China even though the video is over an hour and a quarter in length. The soundtrack for this video features a collection of oral history interviews conducted with people concerning their memories of 31 June 1997. Around fifty people were interviewed over a period of several years (beginning in 2013). These anonymous interviewees all have some connection to Hong Kong but not all of them were in Hong Kong at the time in question.
A second video, this time without sound, presents reworked imagery borrowed from the official feed of the 1997 handover ceremony. At the heart of that ceremony was a period of dead time ten seconds long – the British national anthem had finished playing and the British flag had come down its flagpole, but the Chinese national anthem was yet to start and the Chinese flag had not yet started to rise. The last five of those ten seconds without signifiers of sovereignty is presented, during which the official feed (perhaps experiencing an anxiety of liminality) cuts to a close-up of the face of Prince Charles (who himself seems to be aware of the strangeness of the moment). By slowing these five seconds down, and looping them, an attempt is made to extend or propagate this apparent space between sovereignties, and make it available for inspection.
In addition to the oral history project about 31 June 1997, extensive online research was also conducted in search of information concerning events that happened on that day. Although no textual information was found concerning occurrences in Hong Kong, extensive data was uncovered about events happening elsewhere in the world. Selected results of that research (gathered between 2009 and the present day, largely from reputable websites of statutory bodies as well as from peer-reviewed scientific publications) is presented in the exhibition in the form of a wall text.
Included also are two inkjet prints – part of a sequence of works produced since 1990 where images are altered through a process of relentless faithful photocopying, a kind of subversive obedience. One features an image of Prince Charles from the lost time in the middle of the handover ceremony, and the other features the head of Queen Elizabeth from a colonial era Hong Kong coin. Such coins are still legal tender in Hong Kong – one of the ways in which the change of sovereignty over Hong Kong is best understood as a process (that is still going on) and not just as a discrete event occurring at one moment in the middle of 1997.
Because this project involved an extensive contribution from interviewees it already had an innately participatory aspect, but that dimension is extended further by inviting two prominent local creative figures to offer response works that extend my exhibition idea further. Both are people with whom I have already collaborated in the past: artist and curator Oscar Ho Hing-kay (we co-curated In Search of Art at the Hong Kong Arts Centre in 1990), and creative writer Xu Xi (we collaborated on the Interruptions book and exhibition in 2016). Oscar Ho has contributed a series of linked drawings continuing a thread of his work first seen in his Stories Around Town series of the 1990s, while Xu Xi has contributed a new piece of short fiction titled ‘The transubstantiation of the ants’.
As well as these responses that are part of the physical exhibition display itself, we are inviting contributions and responses from audience members and the general public to an online extension of the exhibition. It is hoped that in this way an opportunity can be created for everyone to take part and extend the project further by sharing their own memories of 31 June 1997, as well as their thoughts about the handover and its consequences. Please click the 'audience contributions' tab to view audience contributions and to make your own.
第二個視頻是無聲的，呈現了從1997年移交儀式的官方資料中借用，重新整頓的圖像。儀式的核心是一段十秒鐘的止息時間 – 英國國歌已經播完，英國國旗已經下了旗桿，但中國國歌尚未開始，中國國旗亦尚未開始上升。影片呈現了十秒鐘裡的最後五秒沒有主權的意符，官方（也許感到局限性的焦慮）的影像特寫了查爾斯王子的臉（他自己似乎也意識到此時此刻的奇異性質）。通過減緩並循環這五秒鐘的時間，希望作品可以伸展或擴大主權之間的這個明顯的空間，使其可供審閱。
兩張噴墨打印的影像同時包括在內 – 它們是自1990年以來一直製作的一系列作品的一部分，圖像因不斷複印而改變，作為一種顛覆性的服從。其中一張特寫查爾斯王子在移交儀式裡錯失的時間中迷惑的表情，另一張則特寫從殖民地時代一直到香港現今，印有伊麗莎白女王頭像的硬幣。這些硬幣在香港仍然是法定貨幣 – 最好將香港主權變更理解為一個（仍在持續的）過程，而不僅僅是在1997年中間的某個時刻發生的離散事件。
因為這個項目涉及到受訪者的廣泛貢獻，所以已經有了一個內在的參與性。但是兩位當地著名的創意人物受邀提供應對作品，進一步擴展了我展覽的意象。兩人都是我過去曾經合作過的人物：藝術家和策展人何慶基（1990年我們共同策劃了在香港藝術中心的《找尋藝術》）和創意作家許素細（我们2016在《斷·續》書籍與展覽合作過）。何慶基在九十年代的《Stories Around Town》系列作品中，提供一系列的連貫圖畫，同時素細還提供一個題為《The transubstantiation of the ants》的短篇小說。
除了以這些回應作為實體展覽一部分以外，我們現邀請觀眾和廣大的公眾以在線延伸參與展覽。希望通過此渠道給每個人創造機會，分享自己對於1997年6月31日的回憶，以及他們對回歸以及後續的想法，以進一步擴大項目。請點擊'Audience Contributions' 分頁觀看觀眾的投稿以及添加你的回憶。
David Clarke would like to thank the staff and Board members of Videotage for their support of this project. He would also like to thank the interviewees who contributed their memories of 31 June 1997, but who remain anonymous. Thanks to Xu Xi and Oscar Ho for agreeing to continue their collaborations with him, and to the staff of the Department of Fine Arts, University of Hong Kong for their support.