Wish You Well
polaroids, site-specific bronze text
location: Fountain, Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens
Hi! Flora, Fauna, 2021, Art Promotion Office, Lumenvisum, Hong Kong New Music Ensemble
Wish You Well rethinks the relational dynamic between the individual and the collective self, also the spatial history and future of the city under the social-political upheaval during the pandemic time. In the Public Garden, a colonial remnant, the project revamps a historical site into a “floating monument” redefining collective memories and the memory-based collective. The garden has a long history withstanding the changes of Hong Kong yet the history becomes elusive in the space of disappearance. The fountain is a profound allegory of the unfamiliar of the familiar. People hold onto the ambiguous impression of the fountain in the garden, yet hardly recall how it looks. The fountain stands after three major reconstructions over the decades, the rainbow hinges upon the will of every wisher. By the act of wish-making, I propose to reclaim the spatial history and identity of a communal space.
In 1864, a fountain was built in the Public Garden. Here, it continues to stand after three major reconstructions.
“Public Garden” was the name used on old postcards to refer to what is now the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens. Among the locals, however, it was more commonly known as “Bing Tau Fa Yuen”—literally the garden for the Commander-in-Chief—which alluded to its role at the time as the private garden for the British Governors of Hong Kong. The site’s dual role persists through time to this day as it doubles as the back garden for those in power and a communal park for the people.
The genesis of the art project, Wish You Well, was a chance encounter in the beginning of 2020 with a rainbow in the fountain, beyond which lies Hong Kong’s skyline. When the rainbow emerges, I invite people to make a wish in front of this water feature, thereby turning it into a collective wishing fountain. I use a Polaroid camera to record from behind every singular instant of such wish making. Here, I rethink not only the relational dynamic between the individual and the collective self, but also the spatial history and future of our city.
Here lies the rainbow for wishful thinkers.