Hong Kong in the 1960s
Hong Kong has a reputation, not altogether undeserved, of being relentlessly unsentimental about its past- witness the wholesale destruction of giant swaths of its architectural heritage; even those structures deemed worth saving are turned into strange simulacrums of their former selves with escalators and Chanel boutiques. While I think it’s certainly fair to say that at this particular moment in time, Chinese culture in general is much more focused on the present and the future than it is the past; I also think were we not living in a quasi-authoritarian state helmed by speculators and real estate developers, things might look a bit different. Witness, for example, what seems to a groundswell of nostalgia for the 1960s, no doubt spurred in part by the much talked about film Echoes of the Rainbow, the story of a family running a shoe shop in 1960s Sham Shui Po, but hardly confined to it. There’s the “Heritage X Art X Design” exhibition at the old Police Married Quarters just across Hollywood Road from Moustache. Now in its final days, the exhibition highlights all the various local shops and trades of old Sheung Wan- tailors, tea shops, printing presses, and ironworks- most of them in danger of extinction. A related exhibition is open at the library in Causeway Bay, “Get Lively with Homes Design: The Look of Hong Kong Homes & Households 1960s-2000s” and, as the name suggests, focuses on interiors: though the exhibition is far from perfectly executed, there’s lots of cool old furniture, much of it courtesy of our friends at Chen Mi Ji, an excellent shop which moved from Peel Street here in Central over to Sun Street in Wan Chai. The owner, Mike, one of the exhibit’s curators (he also assisted on the interior styling for In the Mood for Love), put together a great little film for the show.
Meanwhile, Ming Pao Weekly ran a great photo essay this week which may or may not be by the director of Echoes of the Rainbow (I really should enroll in Chinese class!) titled “Something Lost, Something Gained”, from which the following images are taken, of course, completely without permission.
All of which gives lie to the commonly held notion that all there is to do in Hong Kong at the tail end of a cold and rainy winter is shop (not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course…)