Urban hacking: the versatile forms of cultural resilience in Hong Kong

Abstract

The current understanding of urban resilience focuses on economic, environmental, and social responses. While the significance of art in enhancing social resistance has been acknowledged, the full potential of (un)authorised artistic and creative practices in initiating and strengthening the strategies of urban resilience is not yet recognised. Based on extensive fieldwork in 2012–2017, this paper delineates how urban hacking challenges the sociopolitical and spatio-aesthetic dynamics of the urban public space in Hong Kong as a form of cultural resilience that can contribute to a more holistic understanding of urban resilience. The diversity of urban hacking is indicated in an analysis of selected case studies of urban knitting and digital hacking that question the prevailing perceptions emphasising hacking as a method of illegal and arbitrary destruction. I posit that varied forms of urban hacking have a growing power to raise awareness of sociopolitical issues, enhance solidarity, and renegotiate space for new strategies and subjectivities aiming for more versatile co-authorship of the city.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Despite persistent efforts, some related stakeholders of the chosen case studies refused to be interviewed.

  2. 2.

    The regulations and management of “public open space” (PoS) in Hong Kong is currently complicated by the growing amount of space managed by the private developers.

  3. 3.

    For participatory art in Hong Kong, see Cheung (2015); for contemporary graffiti and street art, see Valjakka (2015, 2016).

  4. 4.

    Translation by the author, published with the consent of Poon.

  5. 5.

    Original statement provided by the artists to author.

  6. 6.

    Statement and a short video available online; Add Oil Team (2016).

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Acknowledgements

The extended research period was made possible by the financial support of the Academy of Finland (2012–2014): the International Institute for Asian Studies, Leiden University (2015–2016); the Finnish Cultural Foundation (2016); and the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore (2017–2018). A round of thanks is owed to artists, curators, residents and scholars who shared their insights and support during this study, including Jeff Hou.

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Correspondence to Minna Valjakka.

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Valjakka, M. Urban hacking: the versatile forms of cultural resilience in Hong Kong. Urban Des Int 25, 152–164 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41289-019-00079-5

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Keywords

  • Urban hacking
  • Urban resilience
  • Cultural resilience
  • Civic engagement
  • Co-authorship of the city
  • Artistic and creative practices