Strangers on Tong Chong Street, by Tom Pearson and Zach Morris, explored what it means for a group of outsiders to descend upon a site and gradually affix themselves to its geography. Charting a course from an ostentatious arrival, through a cautious navigation of unknown territory, and finally to a state of comfortable activity, the work was often biographical of the process and of the individuals while examining notions of strangeness. The architecture of Tong Chong Street was familiar to its daily inhabitants, but it was the performers in the relation to this which establish a dynamic tension, pose a dramatic question, scramble the status-quo.
Hailing from New York, Tom Pearson and Zach Morris sought to find the historical and contemporary commonalities between their home and Hong Kong. In both cases, New York and Hong Kong have always been changing, dynamic, mercantile, and maritime – where denizens gathered in the interest of achieving success, sparking perpetual innovation due to each cities’ unique position as a threshold. They felt this is especially relevant to Taikoo Place – a newly reinvented site built upon an effervescent past.
The work began when a motley group arrives, clad in garments simultaneously evoking fashions of the late Industrial Age and contemporary urban couture–in shades of sugary blues, whites, and grays. As they moved about the street, their relationships to the space and to one another developed and unfurled.
In frequently poignant and often humorous moments of group locomotion or ritualized urban routine, there was the familiar feeling of waiting with certainty, moving with clear but separate intentions, of short gestures, and succinct expressions. Music was played live on a portable melodica that is operated by an iron worker’s bellows, and the score (both live and recorded) evokes cabaret, industrial sound, music box, and pop. By the time the piece resolved and the individuals had settled into their surroundings, the performers seemed less a part of the past and more of a hybrid between past and present while the strange became more familiar, for both the performers and the audience.
Created by Third Rail Projects
Collaborative artists and Performers
Donna Ahmadi, Elizabeth Carena, Zach Morris, Marissa Nielsen-Pincus, Tom Pearson, Tara O’Con, and Mayuna Shimizu.
Costumes Design: Zach Morris in consultation with Karen Young,
Music: Kris Bauman.
Strangers on Tong Chong Street was commissioned by the Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation for the Swire Island East Urban Dance Festival, 2007 and was co-presented by the Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation and Swire Island East. This project was also made possible by Materials for the Arts/New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and Department of Sanitation; and by Third Rail Projects, with support from individual and institutional donors.
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