(notes: invited by the HongKong artist and co-ordinator Breatrix Pang, I have written the following article about Macao's cultural scene for a publication of the Guangzhou Triennial 2005 - The Pearl River Delta Project.)
It is often with a lot of affection that a Macanese talks about their government.
And here might be some of the reasons…
We trust our decision makers.
They have decided to make Macao as pretty as Las Vegas, as shinny as gold, as colourful as rainbow.
With the gambling industry expanding itself with billions of US dollars’ revenues and creating thousands of working opportunities, the government has not only taken care of the unemployment problem, but to our surprise, we artists are invited to be part of the appointment.
In less than ten years, the government has recruited most artists into the public services departments. Not only are we legitimate now under the grand label of Leisure and Culture, and the compensation is a reassuring one. With satisfactory income every month; we are even guaranteed of our retirement.
And if the gambling ambience is disturbing our conscience, the government would keep us from the devil as far away as possible: in the contracts of employment, government employees are not allowed to enter the casinos except during the first three days of Chinese New Year; we are of course allowed to have some fun.
It is truly the artists’ haven. No more worry, no complain. In order to let us live happily ever forever, the government has even built the Art Museum.
So that we can all folk together and do the one thing that we are asked to do: to contemplate.
The effort is obvious, and we all appreciate. Up to here, the fairy tale goes perfectly well, except this one main point: contemplation marks the end of creation; it simply leads to the death of artist.
The government policy is in fact killing the identities of artists and turning them into administrative workers in the cultural departments. The frustration is inevitable. By including and transforming the artists into public functions, the government is cancelling them out of the society as individual artists. Clear positions are required to maintain social balance. Artists’ role is to be situated in between, we represent dialogue. We act as a mirror, we reflect. We are the bridging function between imaginations and realities, we should be able to be the link; to communications.
However, the artistic situation in Macao is that general audience and public do not understand our art works, the opinion is often disappointment. Sometimes they appreciate, but they do not feel concerned. That is because the art works have not been made for them. We are living in such a complaisant environment it’s as if we do not need an audience. We are being sadly deluded.
Meanwhile, the government is orchestrating the same tactic to the population, seemingly organising fruitful cultural activities such as exhibitions and artistic competitions, but factually promoting the omnipresent and sterile ideology of complaisance and comfort: Macao is our home, Macao is all good! The recent membership of the UNESCO patrimonies has been celebrated so ardently by the government, while the architectural landscape of Macao is turning into a Disney Land! And not even an authentic one!
Efforts there were we have to admit, but unfortunately they are of such superficial qualities that we should start to ask ourselves if we are being tricked by the politics. As artists, we have to clear ourselves out of the illusion of seeming prosperity and stand up against falsehood.
If we truly want to carry out works about Art and Culture, we have to turn our vision towards people. Let us face the facts. Let us simply go inside the casino and take a look at how our Macanese youth is working around the gaming tables. If we truly want to be accepted by the community as what we are, then we should stick to our role. We should turn these social issues into forms through our artistic talents. Our mission is to speak up, not to keep silent.
If indeed, we would never be able to change History, and we are not made to be decision makers in Politics, then at least let us talk frankly about it.
There is no other way to be artists unless we create.
同時間，政府以同樣的手法迷惑群眾。表面上像是在展示各式各樣的文化活動及成就，如展覽、藝術創作比賽等，但骨子裡郤不斷地鼓吹那無處不在的「貪圖安逸」的貧乏思想 ── 澳門是我家，澳門多美好﹗這邊厢，為慶祝澳門被聯合國教科文組織列入世界遺產的慶典是多麼盛大熱烈，那邊厢，澳門的建築風貌郤越趨迪士尼化，還要是一個假的迪士尼﹗