Mapping the Disappearing Art Of Hong Kong’s Neon Signs

June 19, 2014 | Sophie Weiner

Hong Kong’s M+ visual art and culture museum that will open in 2017, but right now, it’s hosting its first online pop up exhibit — an immersive look into the history and culture of neon signs in the city. These signs are icons of the city, but due to safety concerns and redevelopment, they are quickly going extinct. The New York Times explains:

Posted to NEONSIGNS.HK, and updated continuously, it showcases M+’s ambitions to blur artistic disciplines and to be global as well as local. The website includes photos, essays and slide shows by writers, artists, photographers and academics living and working in Hong Kong. A 12-minute video, “The Making of Neon Signs,” features interviews — in Cantonese with English subtitles — with longtime neon sign makers and takes viewers into their workshops.

The show also includes a crowdsourced map allowing photos of remaining signs to be uploaded and geotagged.

M+ has decided to stage this online exhibition after they realized their efforts to save all of these historic weren’t good enough. “If they have to die, you take them, but you cannot take all of them,” said the show’s co-curator, Tobias Berger.

This project is not explicitly political, but, Berger explains, its themes are relevant to the cultural issues that Hong Kong faces. “The Neon Signs project is not an anti-China project, but I think has to do with the idea that Hong Kong has to find an identity.It’s colonial, but it’s not colonial. It’s China, but it’s not China. It’s a crazy place.” The show will be online until June 30th. (Images: M+)