Hong Kong - Interviews

Samson Young: Hong Kong From an Artist’s Perspective

1 week ago

Samson Young (b.1979) is an artist and composer based in Hong Kong. Young’s diverse practice draws from the avant-garde compositional traditions of aleatoric music, musique concrète, and graphic notation. Behind each project is an extensive process of research, involving a mapping of the process through a series of ‘sound sketches’ and audio recordings. His drawing, radio broadcasting, performance and composition touch upon the recurring topics of conflict, war and political frontiers.
Young was the inaugural winner of the BMW Art Journey Award at Art Basel Hong Kong 2015. His recent solo projects include Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan (2015); Team Gallery, New York (2015); Para Site, Hong Kong (2016); Experimenter, India (2016); and Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Germany (2016).
As a practising musician, Young is the member of multiple bands and has collaborated with ensembles and orchestras worldwide. He has participated in international music and performing art festivals including Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik, Darmstadt; Fusebox Festival, Austin; New York Electronic Art Festival, New York; Tonlagen Festival, Dresden; Transart Festival, Bolzano; and MONA FOMA Festival of Music and Art.

Claudia Malfitano: Could you tell us about your relationship with Hong Kong and what does it mean for an artist to live here?

Samson Young: Hong Kong is where I was born and raised. My attachment to the city is a natural one. I enjoy Hong Kong as a base to work out of. Everyone complains about the rent, but food is still relatively affordable. And fabrication costs are lower in this part of the world.

C.M.: Your education revolves around music and sound, how is your practice evolving now in regards to sound and music?

S.Y.: It has been an organic process. I started out as a straight-down-the-centre composer. Before leaving for the US to attend Graduate School I came back to Hong Kong to work for a couple of years. I met some artists from other disciplines and we formed an artist collective called “Emergency Lab”. We made a lot of multidisciplinary work together, but when I left the city for Graduate School, I lost these collaborators. I figured that it was easier to learn to do things myself than to find new collaborators. My practice sort of just branched out from there.

C.M.: Who are your favorite artists of all time? Are there any contemporary colleagues you look at with particular admiration?

S.Y.: There really isn’t a favourite but I am naturally drawn to artists who are also musicians or who started out as musicians, like for example Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, and John Cage of course.

One day in Hong Kong with Samson Young.

To explore Hong Kong start from the Southern District. Here you will be able to find many of interesting galleries mainly in Aberdeen like Empty Gallery, Spring Workshop and Floating Projects and some artist studios (South Island Artists Studio Visits). Although it’s being gentrified really quickly. For this reason I’m suggesting you explore this area before all the interesting spaces move away.
For lunch I would move back to Causeway Bay, in this area there are plenty of nice restaurants, I would just drop by Tsui Wah. It sounds incredibly basic but I actually really like going there. After lunch I would move to the eastern part of the Island towards Quarry Bay where you should visit Para/site first, then in North Point area don’t miss Oi!  art space.
After this your next stop should be Foo Tak building in Wanchai, where you will find many artist studios and creative spaces. It’s best to start with Art and Culture Outreach (ACO) on level 14. Speak to the friendly staff at the bookstore there – they should be able to give you suggestions for which studios to check out.
By now it should already be dinner time, there is a place I would recommend, it’s Lei Garden. There are several Lei Garden Restaurants in Hong Kong, but the one in Tsim Sha Tsui East is the best by far (be careful though there’s another one in Tsim Sha Tsui, make sure you go to the right one). It’s quite hard to find – it’s in the basement of a super quiet mall that nobody really goes to, and the decor is super 1990s.
After dinner, there is a kind of obvious place to go where a lot of artists like to hang out, Club 71 in Central. It’s tucked away in a back street and next to a small public rest area. It’s really hard to find, and super down to earth. No loud music. It’s the default meeting place for a lot of creative types.

Learn more about Samson Young through our interviews with the artists:

For Whom the Bell Tolls, an interview with Samson Young

If this rings any bell to you: an interview with Samson Young

Claudia Malfitano

  • Samson Young, Portrait. Photo credits: Dennis Man Wing Leung. Courtesy of the artist Samson Young, Portrait. Photo credits: Dennis Man Wing Leung. Courtesy of the artist
  • Samson Young, A Dark Theme Keeps me here. I'll make a Broken Music. Exhibition view at Kunsthalle Dusseldorf, Photo Credits: Simon Vogel. Courtesy of the artist Samson Young, A Dark Theme Keeps me here. I'll make a Broken Music. Exhibition view at Kunsthalle Dusseldorf, Photo Credits: Simon Vogel. Courtesy of the artist
  • Samson Young, A Dark Theme Keeps me here. I'll make a Broken Music. Exhibition view at Kunsthalle Dusseldorf, Photo Credits: Simon Vogel. Courtesy of the artist Samson Young, A Dark Theme Keeps me here. I'll make a Broken Music. Exhibition view at Kunsthalle Dusseldorf, Photo Credits: Simon Vogel. Courtesy of the artist
  • Samson Young, A Dark Theme Keeps me here. I'll make a Broken Music. Exhibition view at Kunsthalle Dusseldorf, Photo Credits: Simon Vogel. Courtesy of the artist Samson Young, A Dark Theme Keeps me here. I'll make a Broken Music. Exhibition view at Kunsthalle Dusseldorf, Photo Credits: Simon Vogel. Courtesy of the artist

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