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A group of secondary school students sit around a round table together with illustrator Rainbow Leung in the warm wooden interior of the M+ Rover. They are holding up cups and clinking them together in the middle while smiling and laughing.

M+ Rover: Experimenting With Participatory Art

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M+ Rover, a traveling creative studio at M+, is currently finishing up its 2018 tour. Below, Winnie Lai from the M+ Learning and Interpretation team writes about why participation has been such an important part of the M+ Rover. The below text is based on a talk she gave at the Museum Ideas Conference in London in October 2017.

Background

What can a museum learning team do before the museum has a building?

At M+, the Learning and Interpretation team sees the period before the museum building opens as an opportunity to explore and experiment. We have tried to gain an understanding of our potential audiences and their knowledge about M+ with our pre-opening exhibitions and programmes, and have realised that without a physical building, it can be hard for audiences to have a clear understanding of the future museum. We realised that we needed to build connections and outreach through a more specific and regular approach.

It is within this context that M+ Rover was launched in 2015. M+ Rover is a school and community outreach project: a trailer converted into a moving creative travelling studio. From February to June, it travels to schools and communities with an artist’s commission that takes the form of a workshop and an exhibition. We envision it as a space for non-formal learning, where people can simply rest and create; a flexible space where workshops, exhibitions, and other activities can take place. The M+ Rover experience is all about participatory practice; that is, art that revolves around participation with the audience.

A booth with walls that have a wooden box-like framework on the outside and a few semi-large triangle cut-outs. Several wooden panels sit on the outside of the walls. The wooden panels have white-washed effect and colourful letters that form slogans such as, ‘JUST ADD +’, ‘THE POWER OF +’, and ‘THE VIEW FROM HONG KONG’. Blurred people are walking by the booth.

What Was Inside the M+ Booth at Art Basel?

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Earlier in March, M+ was part of Art Basel Hong Kong 2018. Art Basel, if you’re not familiar with it, is an international art fair staged annually in Hong Kong; Basel, Switzerland; and Miami Beach, the United States. This year, like other art institutions and publishers, M+ had a booth in the public area of the fair, where visitors could learn more about the M+ Collections, the M+ building, and the M+ programmes.

However, we didn’t want to limit our booth to those who visited Art Basel over the three days it was open—so in this post, we’re providing an online summary of what the booth looked like, how it was designed, and what information was inside!

Close-up on a bespectacled, dark-haired man’s head and torso as he holds a microphone and speaks into it. In his other hand, he is holding a cardboard VHS cover with the words ‘LIVE AID’ emblazoned on top of an illustration in which the continent of Africa has been made to look like a guitar.

Wong Chi Chung: A Brief History of Charity Singles

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Last year, to accompany Samson Young: Songs for Disaster Relief, Hong Kong’s collateral event at the Venice Biennale 2017, M+ and the Hong Kong Arts Centre co-presented ‘We Are One?’, a programme of film screenings and conversations on the theme of charity efforts. With the current Hong Kong ‘tour’ of the exhibition Samson Young: Songs for Disaster Relief World Tour at the M+ Pavilion, closing on May 6, we invited veteran radio DJ and music critic Wong Chi Chung, a speaker in the ‘We Are One?’ programme, to write about charity singles from a historical perspective, as a response to the exhibition.

Wong Chi Chung:

On Sunday 11 March, at the gloriously sunny Freespace Happening, I wandered off to the Samson Young: Songs for Disaster Relief World Tour exhibition nearby at the M+ Pavilion and found that my thoughts took me back to an important period in my relationship to music: the time when I, a long-time music fan, became a radio DJ, in the 1980s.

The Christmas songs released in the early 1980s were mournfully beautiful, with many exceptionally romantic musicians writing moving pieces. The soundtrack for the film Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, which premiered in May 1983 at the Cannes Film Festival, was, for example, an unparalleled collaboration between David Bowie and Ryuichi Sakamoto. In the year 1984, both Last Christmas by Wham! and Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas? were heard throughout London and then around the world. While the former is a song about losing love, the latter was a charity song pioneer.

Chair made out of woven rattan with four iron legs. The chair seat is shaped like a circle that curves inwards, and the dark legs are straight and thin with small pieces of plastic on the end.

From the Collections: Rattan Chair Attributed to Kowloon Rattan Ware Co.

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'From the Collections' is a regular series on M+ Stories spotlighting different works from the M+ Collections. The works that we choose are voted on by the public. This time, visitors and readers chose among four chairs in the M+ Collections and selected a rattan chair attributed to Hong Kong manufacturers Kowloon Rattan Ware Co.

You can vote on which artwork or object will be featured next on ‘From the Collections’ here!

This rattan chair attributed to Kowloon Rattan Ware Co. is in the M+ Collections, but what is it, who made it, and why did M+ acquire it? Jennifer Wong, Assistant Curator, Design & Architecture, explains:

1. What is this?

This is a child-size rattan chair attributed as a design by Chan Kin-fai of the Kowloon Rattan Ware Co. in the mid-1950s—the peak of rattan manufacturing in Hong Kong. A burgeoning industry since the late nineteenth century, the Hong Kong rattan industry produced affordable, quality woven products out of imported rattan canes from Southeast Asia for local consumption and export. This chair, along with other notable designs like the Flying Saucer chair by Kowloon Rattan, was a marked departure from the then predominant practice of manufacturing products based on designs supplied by overseas clients.