Para Site presents Café do Brasil, a group exhibition curated by Qu Chang over two spaces to mark Para Site’s new expansion onto the ground floor of its current location. Featuring 28 artists, groups, and speakers, the exhibition examines the notions of individuality and collective spirit under the regulatory influences of physical and metaphorical spaces. Open Friday 13 September 2019 to Sunday 24 November 2019.
Through the 1960s and ‘70s Café do Brasil, a now legendary harbour view café on the second floor of Ocean Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui, was a gathering place for young intellectuals. Despite only appearing through oblique references in literary accounts or memoirs, Café do Brasil is known to have been a place where social and political ideas were discussed expansively by some of the brightest and most challenging minds of the time.
Curator Qu Chang has taken the spirit of Café do Brasil, and all its successors that have since embedded themselves into the winding history of Hong Kong’s cultural spaces, as the catalyst for an exhibition that actively invites visitors to join a shared discussion to explore how we connect with one another in society. At a time when notions of ‘publicness’ are fraught in contemporary reality, Café do Brasil reflects on this historical site, not to confine our imaginations to a nostalgia for what is now history, but instead to urge us to appropriate, reshape and expand our ideas into different subversive blueprints for the future.
The exhibition is imagined in three chapters: Chapter 1: Coffee Shops takes over Para Site’s new ground floor and street facing gallery. Arranged as a café space, this chapter will trace two historical Para Site exhibitions; firstly, it will revisit a group exhibition featuring many of Para Site’s founding members, Coffee Shop (1998) from 13 September to 20 October 2019. This will be followed by a solo exhibition by Lee Kit, 3/4 Suggestions for A Better Living (2007) on view from 23 October to 24 November 2019. These presentations reflect on the public function of an art space and the ties between artistic production and social realities – both historically and today.
Chapter 2: All Tomorrow’s Parties will occupy the entirety of Para Site’s main space (22/F) throughout the exhibition period and will interweave works by contemporary artists from Hong Kong and mainland China with memoirs relating to Café do Brasil, sharing their thoughts on topics ranging from the individual to the world and from space to coexistence. The voices unite and collide on different planes and in different directions throughout the exhibition space. Chapter 3: Together, takes the form of a public programme running throughout the exhibition period. The series includes extensions of the featured works, footnotes to specific discussions, and meetings anticipating new subjects—a party, a get-together: a shared experience accompanied by feelings of joy, vertigo, hangover, regret, and ultimately trial-and-error.