Artist: Wooferten
Location: Kowloon, Hong Kong
Year: 2009
Researcher: Dan Wang

Wooferten is a nonprofit arts organization founded by a dozen Hong Kong cultural workers in order to initiate a discussion between a local community and contemporary art. It is located in a community on Shanghai Street that is rich with its own unique flavor but also changing day by day. Starting from the identity of the community, Woofer Ten explores the fundamental cultural power of the public. It seeks to gain the approval of the neighborhood and become a local landmark while also providing an access point for outsiders to gain a deep understanding of the area.

Woofer Ten’s Chinese name, huohua, means “activate.” By addressing community and art in the context of a living relationship and undertaking various art events, the organization encourages discussions of art, life, community, politics, and culture. This opens possibilities for interpersonal contact, thereby allowing community members to participate, share, discover, and delineate a communal lifestyle. Woofer Ten also provides artists with a creative platform for integrating communal experiences and lived relationships. Because the artists’ work is deeply bound to the community, community members thoroughly experience the creative process and artists can truly assimilate into the pulse of the locality. In this way, the art and the community activate one another.

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There are three focal points to Woofer Ten’s work. First is the implementation of carefully selected topical projects, whereby curators do research and organize work around a specified theme. Second are the ongoing projects that result in different kinds of engaging events every month. These keep Woofer Ten’s exhibition space fresh and provide opportunities for local residents to participate. Third are collaborative projects which encourage community groups to work together with artist groups and combine community resources. Beginning as a venue for exhibitions and mutual cooperation, Woofer Ten has attempted to dispel the wariness, resulting from unfamiliarity, that many residents hold. In its role as a community art experiment, it has not shied away from addressing current political issues.

There are many dimensions to the relationship artists have with communities. They often insert themselves into a community for their work, but what role do they play in that community? Does the community need art? When Wooferten was established, the community’s residents had no sense of what art is. But as the artists and residents lived together over the past five years, they slowly began to influence one another. Woofer Ten grew in the context of the neighborhood, supported by direct peer-to-peer contact between artists and neighbors. It has gradually gained the interest of the neighbors who take part and support the organization. During the planning of each activity, every effort is made to find suitable ways for local residents to participate and strengthen the inherent creativity of this exchange. By encouraging the participant’s sense of self-worth, the organization has encouraged local stakeholders’ belief in their civil rights and sense of place. This is a key aspect of Woofer Ten.

When Wooferten began independently publishing the“ Woofer Post”, many surrounding communities were deeply impressed and began their own community newspapers. The Woofer Post records all the important topics in the neighborhood that would be overlooked in the context of greater Hong Kong. By focusing on daily life and cooperating with local residents, the“ Woofer Post” encourages social consciousness.

Wooferten is supported by the Hong Kong Art Development Council and operates the Shanghai Street Art Space in Yaumatei. Since its inception it has allowed artists to recommend and implement projects, and it discusses proposals at regularly held meetings. Two employees manage the office with the assistance of the neighborhood. The projects are implemented cooperatively by artists and residents.

All copyright belongs to Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, Shanghai University.

Progress Agency