Erika Wong in LSLA
For most of the developed world, the desperation and fear borne out of the chaos of war and the resulting survival tactics seem foreign and far removed from daily life. Yet, all around us, in small pockets of overlooked space, sits evidence of a past not so far from the minds of those who have survived. As a child, I watched my aunt hide valuables in jars of empty moisturizer, stuffed with tissues. A strange, perplexing ritual in peacetime, which I, as a child, had no context to understand. Beyond the hidden gems among what mostly amounted to rubbish, was her constant need to artificially bar her windows, or hold on to seemingly useless materials, “just in case” anything should happen. I couldn’t understand what that “just in case” was back then, but now, having lived in Hong Kong for many years, and having both a historical and cultural understanding of the past, I am able to see how the chaos of war and the rebuilding post war, has left an indelible mark on the citizens of the city.
In Sai Ying Pun, one can easily find evidence of those years, as the neighbourhood remains remarkably unchanged. On reclaimed space – balconies originally designed for esthetic purposes only – passersby can see the mountains of so-called junk that residents treasure and will not abandon. This junk is a lifeline, a hope, and even an investment for the future. A visual reminder of war, of chaos, and of the will to survive. This junk is evidence of their success, and most importantly, is a form of security. Security and protection come in many different forms. In ancient Andean South America, the recording and sharing of knowledge was a form of protection – a way of ensuring future generations could prepare for seemingly unexpected events. One method of making such records was by using Quipu: the ancient craftwork knots that told the stories of generations past. The ancient Chinese did not use knots for record keeping, but did use knots as a sacred form of decoration and protection.
With these thoughts in mind, I was inspired to create my own form of knots – both decorative and protective. It is an installation of a knot fence – representative of the past histories it tells, the future it protects, and the hope that need for the things it shield will never be.