In his Paddling Home project, Kacey Wong created a floating apartment and launched it in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour. This video, made in collaboration with film producer and director David Attali, depicts the launch, which took place during the 2009 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture in Shenzhen and Hong Kong.
The work opens with Wong, who trained as an architect, describing Paddling Home and his intentions. The minimal dwelling represents the extremely dense, confined living conditions characteristic of Hong Kong. The structure, a four-foot cube, also features typical residential details, including a bay window, pink tiling, and a bulky air-conditioning unit. It floats on blue plastic barrels. The piece’s successful placement on the harbour is met with a ‘ta-da’ noise and applause from the crowd watching the performance. Wong boards the floating structure dressed in a ship’s captain whites; a tugboat tows the house to open water, as Johann Strauss’s waltz The Blue Danube plays in the background. The artist fishes and golfs from the turf-covered roof and waves to the camera, smiling.
Despite its obvious humour, the work also gives form to widespread frustrations associated with Hong Kong living. Wong compares his paddling but never reaching shore to a paying a mortgage. ‘You pay so much money,’ he explains, ‘but what you get in return is so little.’