Leslie’s song was playing in the background as I was entering the venue- reminding us of this very day in April that is still marked in Hong Kong people’s hearts after 20 years, along with the golden era of Hong Kong arts and culture. On the same day, we are on a mission to understand what the future of arts is like for Hong Kong- through an eye-opening discussion with Hong Kong singer-songwriter Serrini and Vice Chairman of M+ museum Alan Lau, along with our Melo founders Louisa and Kenny as moderators.
We started with an art sharing session from the Melo fellows. It once again reiterated the essence of art- not only is it about the artist, but also about how the person looking at it interprets it and how it touches your heart. “Anything with a story is worth collecting” - when Alan shared with us his collections, I smiled as my mind drifted to the huge pile of movie and concert tickets in my drawer.
When Alan gave this comment, it struck me hard. Covid was indeed an interesting opportunity for Hong Kong people to take a look back “inside” and see what Hong Kong itself has to offer. I am sure many of you out there including myself rediscovered Hong Kong music and cinema in these 3 years. However, there is still a long way for Hong Kong people to truly have our culture’s back. Both Serrini and Louisa noted that they received a lot of negative comments without grounds along their journey, insulting people’s blood, sweat and tears. Whilst constructive criticism are showers of rain that nourish growth, ungrounded allegations are just buckets of waste water that put out flames of dream. On the opposite end, while it is perfectly fine to be a die-hard fan, try to love the artist for their songs rather than loving the songs just because of the artist. In other words, focus on the music and express your true feelings with a more critical eye. Seeing your favourite artist in live action might be your motivation to concerts, but while you are there, why not pay attention to the stage designs and how the band and vocal arrangements elevate?
After listening to Serrini’s background in cultural studies, it is not hard to see why her work blurs the line of pop culture, literature and theatre. But as for all arts, the baseline is to express oneself- there are theories, standards to follow, but sometimes it is just about feeling and experiencing the moment, and just do what YOU want to do. “You push yourself so much to a point where you surprise yourself” - a quote from Serrini to remind us that dreaming is not only about blindly chasing that one thing you enjoy, but also about discovering yourself and breaking limits in the process. Serrini also demonstrated herself how self-expression extends to authentic exchanges. Instead of meeting people as “connections”, do it because there is actually something you want to know. I hope one day, we will all have that sense of confidence in ourselves and allow people to either love or hate your authentic self.
An interesting discussion was continued about the possibilities of art and tech. AI is not replacing art, but is a new form of art and merely part of the evolution of artists’ playing ground. Moreover, an important point on the accessibility of arts is raised, where M+ is on its missions to remind fellow Hongkongers that arts and culture is not only for the rich, but for everyone to discover. Lastly, allow me to end this with Serrini’s response on the cliche “Hong Kong music is dead”- Think of the possibilities when it is dead! You become a ghost and can shift forms freely, explore and gain the courage to imagine beyond limits.