Earlier in the week, I posted photos of Xeme & Sinic’s “Portland Street” art exhibit which takes place in the red-light district of Hong Kong. Today, I caught up with Xeme who answered a few questions concerning Portland Street, the exhibition itself, and what he hopes it’ll bring to the local art scene.
‘PORTLAND STREET’ Q&A with Xeme
by Matthew J (@IamJamesMatthew)
1) What inspired you and Sinic to create this particular project?
The signs and neon lights are always catching our attention in those area.
And then we always laugh about the stuff that they put on signs to attract customers.
So one day we decided to combine all these elements together with the calligraphy stuff we do.
2) How were you able to make it all happen? Being that the exhibition is in a red-light district, I would assume people were against it. Did you receive any sort of resistance from people within “the district”?
We got a few complains here and there. Mostly from the neighbors saying that we are trying to promote prostitution or something.
At the end we still make it through, it wasn’t much of a chaos.
3) if you could, please tell me the history of Hong Kong’s Portland Street. Is it as notorious as Amsterdam’s red light district? What makes Portland Street so unique?
Prostitution is absolutely illegal in Hong Kong, yet having this area that’s filled with neon lights and explicit words telling you how much you pay for a girl is just so contradictive. Besides that the environment in Portland Street is so vivid and eye catching which we think is beautiful in some ways. History wise, this red light district has been running for more than 5 decades. It used to be a grimy old area but now all the streets surrounding Portland Street has become a mufti-billion commercial district.
4) Apart from “lighting up” Portland Street, via publicity, what do you hope this particular exhibit will bring to the area?
We just want “art” in Hong Kong to be less boring. We hope more people are willing to try something new even if it’s crossing some people’s line (comfort zone). As long it’s fun to do, why not give it a try, right?
5) How long do you to keep the installations in Portland Street?
It’s gonna be there ’til the 5th of September. Come and check it out, if you’re in town.