Beginning as a project to protect and advance personal dreams in artistic pursuits, the Floating Projects Collective (FPC, 「句點」, 2010) has evolved from a group of 4 into a collective with 20 additional members in 2015, and its activities renamed Floating Projects (FP「據點。句點」, literally “occupation point”). FP takes on a spatial turn by occupying an 1800-square-foot industrial unit in a fading industrial district, Wong Chuk Hang (WCH黃竹坑), on the southern part of Hong Kong Island, where the increase of disused and vacant flats forces their owners to open up to atypical manufacturing usage. The spatial turn has fueled our imagination and soon evolves into a series of experiments around a central question: what can we artists do with an empty unit in an industrial building with institutionally and physically defined constraints? How does what we do connect to the premise that art is by definition a form of radical thinking, thus an indispensable force in nourishing our humanness? At the point when FP inserted itself into WCH, the district was already the home for several commercial galleries in addition to two new boutique hotels on top of various independent art spaces and artist’s studios. The rent FP is now paying could have been 30% less a year earlier. The question of art is the question of space in a milieu when art and design are heavily appropriated to be the supporting pillars of what is known as “creative economy,” an aggressive agent for gentrification, the flip side of which reads the problematic transformation of urban surfaces.
FP is not only an experiment, but it seeks to be experimental, in the sense that it strives to re-open up many known normal artistic practices to assert that questions of art must be understood also as those of non-artistic nature. Issues of how to keep making art, and of how to scramble for resources to sustain survival, become a new series of questions. Can artists working with different artistic media work together, and how about artists of different generations and expertise training? Who is the artist – only those who received formal studio art education in an art school? Are there modes to publish and share art other than the white cube model? How does a collective accommodate individual aspirations and desires? What possible modes of survival and sustainability are there beyond the commercial versus charity support binary structure?
Rooted in Critical Theory concerns, FP’s production of space (Henri Lefebvre) is considered the impetus for the reproduction of social relations. FP asks: how do we sustain the progressive posture of art, preserve art’s non-conforming and implicitly anti-establishment character in the age of gentrification, when art increasingly becomes a decoration, or a kind of added value? These questions all point to the need to re-imagine and re-invent a different sort of creative economy, called “the space of creativity.” (Hui Yuk, DOXA) At this point, FP is answering to the demand of a relevant model – one that (re-)generates singularity (of the individuals) and promotes new collectivity, or the enactment of co-individuation. (Gilbert Simondon, Bernard Stiegler) What does it mean to be an artist in a hyper-capitalist digital age in which our feelings and temporal being are the main targets of moderation and control through broad-scale commodification of art and design (Georg Lukács, Stiegler) in the name of urban progress through gentrification (Hui)? As many government-initiated local projects highlight heritage re-enlivening and/or are implicitly imbued with a social work concern or rhetoric, what does FP as a collective conceive to be the new relations between the politics of art, de-proletarianization (the regaining of one’s place in knowing and in producing new knowledge), and the practice of love and care?
In the short period of seven months, a few signature event series have emerged to be place-holders of individual desires and the practice of care for others (Stiegler, Alain Badiou). Step by step by trial and error, we are reaching our goals through a few emergent signature activities. The <WCH Assemblage> (Wong Chuk Hang Assemblage) series is our regular gleaning and re-purposing of dumped material to form object-based art installation and object performance. <Work-in-progress Inspection> allows members to produce art, to stage and publish their works, to turn work processes into a necessary part of art pieces to be studied. <Spatial Pressure Calibration> connects with “WCH Assemblage> to turn the installed works into a stage of playful objects, integrated with improvised sound-making and semi-choreographed performances. <Floating Teatime> is our on-line writing platform, where writing connects what’s artistic to other modes of enquiry, bridging the personal and the collective. With the open framework of <Floating Events>, we promote all members to keep our doors always open with tasks, events and moments of exchange growing out of their own talents and specialties, from exhibiting their works, conducting curatorial experiments, to running working series and discussion groups, all occurring on an open-to-all indoor production site furnished with a charity café with a free wi-fi reading environment. With this last component, we encourage person-to-person conversations and the importance of taking time to read. We have been a growing a library and digital archive to promote the culture of documentation – as many of us are media artists. In a few months, we have already collected over 100 pieces of videography by local young artists.
FP is not just an organization, but itself an art project that interrogates questions of space and being. Re-orientation of art is central to the re-orientation of everyday life, which must begin with spatial re-orientation.
KEYWORDS: Art experimentation / production of space / contributory organization / de-proletarianization / active re-ownership of one’s skill / contributor-consumer / positive externalities / co-individuation / contention for terminology