The Mass Transit Railways was planned and built from the late 1960s, when the British-Hong Kong government decided to invest more proactively in urban production as a response to political tensions and as a way to stimulate the economy. The MTR has surely contributed to the prosperity of Hong Kong but its role goes far beyond the mere transportation of the public. Its chief shareholder being Hong Kong government, the MTR company has been a major player in Hong Kong’s political economy. Today, it brings together railway infrastructures, urban design, public/private housing, and land policy. The MTR’s modes of operations are efficient and profitable as well as controversially hegemonic.
Our project invites you to take a journey upon the Hong Kong metro. Although it is up to you where these directions will take you, our investigation has compelled us to complicate the common-sense understanding of the MTR as a simple destination-oriented transport. For us the metro appears to be everything but a non-place where human beings remain anonymous. Through our collective research, we have come to perceive the MTR as more than just a field of power, discipline and conformity, resulting from the top-down civilizing discourses. Also, we see more in it than unconstrained subjectivities, free to flow in the underground of the city. Instead, the MTR is a contested domain opened for surprises and therefore worthy of analysis.
At the end of August 2017, during our Urban Ethnography Summer School, we have found there is much of interest through, and between the lines, both physical and imaginary of the MTR. We have attempted to occupy these gaps, filling them with voices and images. We have capture words and movements. We have recorded our own thoughts and discussions. The intention of our exhibition and the goal of this website is to create a polyphonic space of interpretation and imagination. In polyphony, no voice is dominant, meaning may emerge through and between them.