MAP Office is a research think tank based in Hong Kong, led by Laurent Gutierrez and Valérie Portefaix. For over a decade, the architect/artist duo has explored the rapid changes taking place in the Pearl River Delta (PRD), a region of intense development and industrialisation. MAP Office critically approaches the PRD as an interface of local and global forces such as cultural identity and massive urbanisation, documenting how these transformations affect people and space. They use multiple methods, including maps, drawings, photographs, videos, writings, and performances, to record and communicate information. My PRD Stories gathers a number of projects MAP Office undertook between 2001 and 2005. The works, originally shown as an installation at the Second Guangzhou Triennial (2005), demonstrate the office’s approach and recurring subjects of landscape, infrastructure, architecture, inhabitation, economics, and labour.
To Hold an Oyster Shell is a series of closely cropped photographs depicting hands clutching oysters in Lau Fau Shan, an area in Hong Kong’s New Territories famous for its oyster harvesting. For MAP Office, oysters represent many things, including food production, sexuality, and structural form. Oysters also function as a metaphor for Hong Kong at multiple scales, since they are microhabitats themselves but join together to create larger landscapes from water.
MAP Office (established Hong Kong, 1996) is a multidisciplinary platform co-devised by Laurent Gutierrez (b. 1966, Morocco) and Valérie Portefaix (b. 1969, France). Using a variety of expressions such as drawing, photography, video, installations, performance, and literary and theoretical texts, their work on physical and imaginary territories forms a critique of spatio-temporal anomalies, and documents how human beings subvert and appropriate space.