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國際藝評人協會香港分會會員定期刊登評論近期展覽的文章。文章將以作者原文(英文或中文)刊登。

免責聲明: 本欄文章內容純屬作者個人觀點或意見,均不代表國際藝評人協會香港分會的立場。

「大館」開幕:呈現言論自由之地 | Tai Kwun Opens: A Place for Freedom of Expression
by 約翰百德 (John BATTEN)
at 12:12pm on 22nd May 2018


圖片說明 Caption:
1. 大館D大樓前監獄操場上的公共藝術裝置:陳餘生的旗幟和日本藝術家加藤泉的雕塑作品。/ Tai Kwun's Block D with the some of the site's public art installations on the prison yard: Gaylord Chan's flags and stone sculpture by Japanese artist Kato Izumi.

2. - 3.大館正進行建造和翻新(攝於2016年):亞畢諾翼的新建樓梯。亞畢諾翼將設有劇院和機電設施;打開新發現的空間:D大樓連接前監獄操場下的拱門與拱頂。/ Construction & renovation at Tai Kwun, 2016: the newly-built stairwell of the Arbuthnot Wing, that will house a theatre and the site's mechanical and electrical services; opening-up a discovered space of arches and vaulting under the West Wing of D Block adjoining the former Prison's recreation yard. (photographs: John Batten)

攝影:約翰百德 All photographs: John Batten



(Please scroll down for English version)

中區警署歷史建築群本星期向公眾開放。然而,場地並未完全準備就緒:部份商戶(包括一個報案室)尚在完成室內裝潢;某些部份正進行最後階段的翻新。而取代部份倒塌已婚督察宿舍的結構,則有待進一步加固和設計。在新設藝廊中舉辦的兩項當代藝術展覽將於6月8日開幕。我已率先到訪這裡多幢細意翻新的歷史建築物,還有由Herzog & de Meuron設計的新建大館當代美術館。這些建築物中,大部份的此前狀裝況都令人慘不忍睹,特別是設置囚室的大樓,需要精密的工程加固。如果要說什麼美中不足,已完成的翻新也許太完美了––經歲月洗禮的牆身已清洗得光潔如新,也已完成重新粉刷,每座建築物的外觀與色調均一式一樣。但隨著時間過去,這些建築物將演化出新的外貌和功能。在向公眾開放的首數個星期,市民可以一同欣賞和檢視實體建築物。但,當我周圍逛著時,我將需嘗試衡量和「感受」它面目模糊的新身份。

整個建築群以「大館」為名字和品牌。面向荷李活道的前警務處總部,曾以大館為綽號。然而,這個名字未能完全涵蓋該處歷史上作為司法制度三大支柱所在處的事蹟。這裡不僅為殖民時代香港警察總部和中區警署舊址,也是域多利監獄和入境事務處收押所的所在處。直至1979年前,亞畢諾道典雅的裁判司署大樓更設有法庭。

建築群的完整性,視乎它能否成功保育舊有司法、拘留和執法歷史的感覺,以及該址能否恰如其份地在歷史建築中納入新的文化活動、食肆和商店而定。取得適當的平衡,將會是衡量該歷史建築群是否成功「活化」(政府最愛使用的詞語)的真正指標。然而,這並非容易的事。如何令該址保留完整性,而不是因為訪客數字和商業活動的需要而作出妥協,變得平凡或庸俗?如何營造適當的氣氛?如何判定怎樣做才對?上址的氣氛,是不是早有隨時間改變的想法?

無疑,歷史展品上將細說警務與懲教服務的故事,還有刑事法、警務和拘留的程序。那些展品將喚起及擁護建築物所見證的法制,但該址也應紀念那些現在已不存在,但曾被判囚在此的還押者、被定罪囚犯、死刑受害人、在日佔時期被拘留人士,以及其後在上址入境處收押所裡被拘留和被驅逐出境人士。越南革命家胡志明的故事,無容置疑將出現在上址的歷史展品中,但「一般」男女囚犯的故事,和胡氏等著名歷史人物同樣重要。

香港賽馬會由項目開始已負責翻新和管理大館,並曾公開表明該地不會成為另一個尖沙咀「1881」,也不會變成商場。馬會並經常以不幸地變成偽裝購物中心的元創坊為例子。

大館前身的主要作用是監獄,曾經是被定罪的不法份子被監禁的居所。這地一方面充滿了憤怒、暴力、痛苦和哀傷,另一方面也盛載著勇氣、堅忍、慈愛和贖罪。這個地方曾經是社會上的封閉角落,社會人士大不會看到幾乎被遺忘的在囚人士。這裡也是被判死刑者被問吊的地方。而離現在年代不遠的記憶,還有日佔時期的無理拘留和酷刑。現時,大館已是集古蹟與藝術於一身的地方。

要發掘這裡殘酷詭秘的歷史相當容易:組織「猛鬼團」或在萬聖節時開放場地便可以了––但那主意未免太懶惰、太俗氣和太格格不入了。建築群內可能設有自拍點,但肯定的是各座建築物本身,以至未來舉辦的活動和藝術節,將會帶來不少歡樂時刻和值得拍照留念的機會。大館並不是海洋公園或迪士尼樂園!大館必需被認定為存活至今的歷史遺址,蘊藏一系列亞洲區內最重要、非凡的殖民地建築。最基本的,是這裡需要有足夠的和思考空間,讓訪客可以享受它所承載的歷史及藝術展品,並在樹蔭下坐下來(而不用先買一杯咖啡),欣賞和回顧它的莊嚴歷史和創意展品。

香港一直很需要這種公眾可以接觸、保留香港過去和舉辦創意與藝術活動的場地。大館代表我城美好、百折不撓的精神,更呈現了香港的法治、司法和言論自由,但這項事實卻未獲香港政府和香港賽馬會所全面意會。


參考資料: www.taikwun.hk
利申: 約翰百德為香港賽馬會委任的藝術工作小組成員,該小組為大館的志願諮詢組織。

原文刊於《明報周刊》,2018年5月26日及Perspective, 2018年5月。



Tai Kwun Opens: A Place for Freedom of Expression

by John Batten

The Central Police Station heritage complex opens to the public this week. The site, however, is not entirely ready: some of the commercial tenants are still completing their interior decoration, including a police report station; and, some sections are in their final stages of renovation. The partially collapsed Married Inspector’s Quarters needs further strengthening and design for its replacement. The two contemporary art exhibitions in the new art galleries will open on 8 June 2018. I have visited many of these meticulously renovated heritage buildings and the newly-constructed Herzog & de Meuron-designed Tai Kwun Contemporary art galleries. Most of these buildings, especially the prison cell blocks were previously in woeful physical condition and required delicate engineering to strengthen. If anything, the completed renovation may be too perfect, the patina of the years overly cleaned away and re-painted, each building now appearing homogenous in look and colour. But, over time, the buildings will evolve into a new appearance and function. During these first weeks of the site being open to the public, the physical buildings will be admired and checked. But, as I also walk around, it will be the site’s harder-to-detect new identity that I will attempt to gauge, to ‘feel’.

The entire site is named and branded as Tai Kwun, the traditional name for the former police headquarters fronting Hollywood Road. However, this name does not fully embrace the three pillars of the justice system that the site historically accommodated. As well as being the location of Hong Kong’s colonial police headquarters and Central district’s police station, the site also housed Victoria Prison, including an immigration reception centre; and, until 1979, law courts within the beautiful Magistracy building on Arbuthnot Road.

The integrity of the site will be judged on the success to preserve that sense of judicial, custodial and law enforcement history, alongside the site’s ability to neatly include new cultural activities, restaurants and commercial outlets amongst the heritage buildings. Getting that balance right will be the true measure of the site’s success as a renovated and “revitalized” (to use the government’s favourite phrase) heritage complex. That, however, is no easy matter. How is the integrity of the site maintained, and not compromised, trivialized, or dumbed-down, by the volume of visitors and needs of commercial activities? How is a correct ambience and atmosphere achieved? Who is to judge what is correct, and will the site’s ambience intentionally be changed over time?

The police and correctional service stories and the processes of criminal law, policing and custodial detention will undoubtedly feature in the historical displays. Those displays will evoke and embrace the legal system that the buildings stand testimony to, but the site should also remember those, now not present, that were subject to it – the remand prisoners, convicted inmates, execution victims, detainees during the Japanese occupation, and, later, the detainees and deportees who were processed at the site’s immigration centre. The stories of these ‘common’ inmates, men and women, are as significant as well-known historical figures, such as the Vietnamese revolutionary Ho Chi-minh, who no doubt will feature in the site’s historical displays.

From the outset, The Hong Kong Jockey Club, tasked to undertake the renovation and manage the site, publicly stated that it would not be another ‘1881 Heritage’ in Tsim Sha Tsui, nor would it be a shopping centre; often using the example of the shopping centre-in-disguise that PMQ has unfortunately become.

The site is predominantly a former prison and housed people who did wrong under the law – and, once convicted, a place where ‘time is done’. It is a place of much anger, violence, anguish and sadness, and also of bravery, stoicism, kindness and redemption. It is a place previously closed to society, its inmates unseen, almost forgotten. It is a place where death-row inmates were hung. And in recent memory, there was arbitrary detention and torture during the Japanese occupation. Now, the Tai Kwun site is a place of heritage and for art.

It would be easy to exploit the site’s ghoulish history: organizing ‘ghost tours’ or opening the premises for Halloween – but that would be a lazy idea, tacky, and inappropriate. There could be selfie-spots, but surely the buildings themselves, and future events and festivals will provide lots of joy, enjoyable times and photo opportunities. Tai Kwun is no Ocean Park or Disneyland! Tai Kwun must and will be appreciated as a poignant heritage site containing an integrated collection of some of the most important and remarkable colonial architecture in Asia. Fundamentally, there should be enough space (spatially, and in the mind) for visitors to enjoy the presented historical and art displays and then sit - without needing to buy a coffee! - under shade to enjoy and reflect on the site’s magnificent presence of history and creative displays.

Hong Kong has long needed such a publicly accessible place that holds the city’s past and is a venue for creative and artistic activities. Tai Kwun represents – and this could be a fact not fully appreciated, as yet, by the government and The Hong Kong Jockey Club - the city’s wonderful and indomitable spirit and expressing Hong Kong’s rule of law, justice and freedom of expression.


Link for further info: www.taikwun.hk
Disclosure: John Batten is a member of The Hong Kong Jockey Club appointed Art Working Group, a volunteer advisory group for Tai Kwun.

This article was originally published in Ming Pao Weekly on 26 May 2018, translation by Aulina Chan. A shorter version was also published in Perspective magazine, May 2018.



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