It’s not hard to see why Kacey Wong’s “Paddling Home” is one of the most popular installations at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism. It’s a houseboat that looks just like a typical Hong Kong apartment, after all, and anyone who lives here can relate to it.
Wong has paid particular attention to detail, cladding his boat in chintzy pink tile (popular in the 1990s as a kind of postmodern nostalgia for the ’50s, he says) and giving it what is locally (but inaccurately) known as a “bay window,” a kind of projecting window box that saves developers money on floor space while including the area of the windowsill in an apartment’s square footage. Wong’s installation highlights the absurdity of the property game in Hong Kong, where real estate is business, politics and civic obsession all at once.
On Saturday, Wong put his houseboat out to sea in a performance with Stanley Wong called “Two Wongs Go to Sea.” Stanley made a sampan (a kind of traditional wooden boat) for the occasion and filled it with greenery and a tree. It was meant as a bucolic counterpart to Wong’s boat, which encapsulates all of the angst, frustration and stress that comes from paying down a mountain of mortgage debt in a city where few people are paid their worth.
But don’t let yourself think that “Paddling Home” was weighed down by heavy symbolism. It floated just fine. Kacey Wong is one of the most playful artists in Hong Kong and this work is no exception. To mark its launch into the choppy waters of Victoria Harbour, I shot a short video for CNNGo, where you can also see some detail shots of the boat’s interior.
OTHER PIECES BY DEWOLF