Phantom Island

If you've ever marvelled at the magnificence of Norway's natural coastline, the awesome reality of the capability to change the coastline of Hong Kong definitely is an outstanding testament to modernity. Over the past 100 years, more than 20 islands in the waters of Hong Kong have disappeared from the map of Hong Kong forever because of land reclamation and reservoir construction. It is estimated that as at the end of 2020, Hong Kong’s land area obtained from reclamation projects exceeded 70 square kilometres, accounting for about 7% of Hong Kong’s total land area, and accommodating 27% of its and 70% of its commercial activity. In the next few years, the numbers will continue to increase. The reclamation has also changed from meeting the basic development needs of the city to a performance.

Zygmunt Bauman defined modernity as “about rejecting the world as it has been thus far and the resolution to change it.” In the hundreds of years since the beginning of modernization, we have continuously witnessed human beings transform nature by removing mountains and draining seas; some islands disappeared, other islands were built above the water, reservoirs were constructed, landfills were created and filled, nuclear weapons were tested, and sea levels have continued to rise... On the map, we are constantly looking for and planning new boundaries, constructing non-stop amid disappearance and uncertainty, and frequently updating the shapes of coastlines and islands. In the exhibition gallery, hand-drawn animations move frame by frame, the borders of wooden and iron islands are clear, expanding outward, and floating islands drift indefinitely. When the desire for distant islands on the map during the Grand Voyage turned into a romantic picture of urban expansion and development, isn’t the reclaimed land that broke through the original coastline and the new islands that exist only on the planning map like the islands that were marked on the map but searched for in vain like phantoms?

Installation design consultant: Dylan Kwok
Installation design management: Ivan Lai @ Vanla Design
Lighting Design: Samuel Chan Kwan Chi

Image credit to Lily Yi Yi Chan and Oi! Street Art Space
Photo taken at Oi! Lawn with Three Gardens by Tobias Klein
Image credit to Lily Yi Yi Chan