Design corner

Like most of the city’s businesses eager to expand market share among Mainland consumers, Hong Kong’s Christian churches tend to avoid upsetting the Chinese Communist Party. Unlike the Evangelical Biblical-literalists, some of whom see no contradiction in opportunistic attachment to the pro-Beijing camp, the Catholics and mainstream Protestants do occasionally speak out. And so it is that Cardinal John Tong – WenzhouChurches1though moderate compared with his staunchly pro-democracy predecessor Joseph ‘Zen’ Chan – complains about the Chinese government. Not about the arrests of human rights lawyers, not about growing Liaison Office interference in local institutions, but about the removal of crosses from churches in Zhejiang.

The campaign to dismantle crucifixes is part of the whole Xi Jinping freak-out-about-everything approach to maintaining social harmony/saving our CCP ass. As with forcing Xinjiang Muslims to eat during daytime in Ramadan, or evicting monks from monasteries in Tibet, you have to wonder whether this policy is a tad unsubtle and possibly counterproductive. But what do we know about running the glorious motherland?

If it was being done for reasons of aesthetics, I could sympathize with the Chinese officials’ clampdown on the visual appearance of Christian churches. At best, the architectural style of Wenzhou’s houses of worship can be described as Mormon-Disney, with Stalinesque-Byzantine influences.

Well, OK – seriously ugly…


Here in Hong Kong, design is exciting, fun and even subversive.

Yesterday, I noted a ‘Discover the Basic Law’ Multi-media Interactive Art Exhibition being assembled in Central Market. The show is organized by the government’s propaganda unit and features work by students from something called the HK Design Institute. Chief Secretary Carrie Lam opened it at its last location. Despite a rather fetching dual-purpose one-country-one-system spittoon/chamber pot, I feared the worst…


Today, it is all in place. I am delighted to report that the students – all veterans of the Umbrella movement, I suspect – have wittily undermined this dismal concept by doing drugs and producing hilariously idiotic pieces that clearly poke fun at the Basic Law. The funniest part of course is that this sabotaging of the project has gone totally over the heads of the clueless bureaucrats at the Information Services Dept…


I declare the weekend open with a warning that, if you feel like acquiring one of these works as a souvenir, the exhibition is tightly guarded…


…which is a pity, because I would seriously, definitely like this…


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10 Responses to Design corner

  1. Qian Jin says:

    @”the removal of crosses from churches in Zhejiang.”

    Would they be “Christian or Catholic” ? (….another example of “lost in translation” but probably deliberately so, by cunning 19th.Century Catholic missionaries).

    It doesn’t really matter anyway. Followers of both superstitions need their martyrs. Just imagine your accelerated rise to sainthood if you were to be nailed to the ground by a falling concrete spire or cross.

  2. reductio says:

    Philistine, Hemlock. The “sleeping guard” is actually a Tracy Emin inspired piece of contemporary performance art entitled “Sleeping Guard”. It’s actually worth 85 million dollars.

  3. Qian Jin says:

    @ reductio: My Google searching tells me that this piece was by Christoph Büchel not Emin. In any case no modern piece of painted canvas is “worth” $85 million. There might be some fools out there willing to pay that but it doesn’t make it “worth” it.

  4. reductio says:

    @Qian Jin

    Thanks for the heads up on Christoph Buchel (sans umlaut I’m afraid). His signature piece “Dump” obviously has many admirers in Hong Kong, given the number of copies one can see scattered around the NT.

  5. Big Al says:

    @ Reducto – reminds me of a news report many, many years ago about the theft by Mainland raiders of outboard motors from boats on Crooked Island. They interviewed an old man who had supposedly been on watch when the thefts happened again, who said in his defence “I fell asleep while being a vigilante”. Priceless. Talking of which …

    @ Qian Jin – Surely the “worth” of something, i.e. its value, is what someone is willing to pay for it, not the cost to produce it? An iPhone 6, for example, costs around $1,800 for materials and assembly (excluding R&D and marketing) but retails for around $5,600. If not the price that someone is willing to pay, how else is worth/value of goods measured in monetary terms?

  6. inspired says:

    de gustibus non est disputandem (unless one is the CCP of course)

  7. stinky foot says:

    In olden days (30+ yrs ago), I wandered Shanghai and wished to visit the Catholic church in Xujiawei, Ignatius Cathedral, the centre of the Catholic community in Shanghai. It was fenced in by a factory. I tried to raise the factory watchmen. When I told him I was a Catholic, he opened the gate and let me in. Very still, and in those anti-foreign times, was a body laid out for consecration. I said my prayers, but also realised that some enduring and unbreakable bonds are still there.
    @ Qian Jin you are, a POS. Maybe someday life will really bite you in the place you store your brains.

  8. Nimby says:

    That’s 2nd to the last picture surely must be Lei Feng’s “Model Worker Counts Sheep In Front Of Party Fans.”

  9. Joe Blow says:

    Long after the CCP and its acolytes have been laid to rest and forgotten, the cross will still reign supreme. In Hoc Signo Vinces.

  10. The CCP and the Catholic Church actually have a lot in common – both expect their members to believe a lot of highly unlikely things.

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