So You Are Old by the Time you Reach the Island

Samson Young to premiere multi-media walk at Art Basel in Hong Kong

March 24, 2016
1.15—7.30 pm (in hourly rotations)

Starting point: Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, BMW Lounge, Level 3 Concourse

Pre-Register or walk in 15 mins prior to each slot

Hong Kong sound artist Samson Young will present So You Are Old by the Time You Reach the Island, an interactive multi-media walk during the 2016 Hong Kong edition of Art Basel. The artist’s practice is largely performance-based and informed by his training as a music composer. Extensive research into the cultural and historic contexts of his subjects characterize his work. Young (b. 1979) has been exhibited widely in group and solo exhibitions across Asia, Europe, and the United States.

So You Are Old by the Time You Reach the Island is a “multi-media walk” which will take the visitors of the upcoming Art Basel show in Hong Kong out of the Convention Center and onto the streets of the Wanchai and Admiralty districts of Hong Kong on a time- and site-specific journey that weaves together institutional histories of place with fictions and personal narratives. Reference point for this journey is the lost “golden bell” that once adorned the Rodney Block of the (now demolished) Victoria Barracks in Admiralty. This bell gave the Admiralty district its Chinese name.

On the afternoon of Thursday, March 24, over the course of six hours, small groups of people will depart the Convention Center on the walk. Each participant will receive a portable media player and headphones along with a bag holding various small objects, maps and instructions necessary to complete the journey. Walking individually or in groups, over the course of the next hour the participants will be led to a series of iconic and obscure locations in Hong Kong, where they will experience pre-recorded films and sounds, live actions and performances that had been painstakingly orchestrated by Samson Young and his performers and collaborators, including jazz vocalist Michael Schiefel, who contributed many of his original songs and plays one of the many mysterious characters that the audience will encounter during this walk.

The work adds a new chapter to For Whom the Bell Tolls, an ongoing project which won Samson Young the inaugural BMW Art Journey in 2015. The BMW Art Journey is a global art initiative by BMW and Art Basel that sends artists on worldwide travels of creative discovery. Young’s journey centered on bells, both as sonorous objects and as ideological, political, and religious emblems of their respective communities. The artist researched and recorded numerous bells on a sixty-day-long trip around the globe. In the course of his travels, he compiled an extensive archive of bell recordings and a series of bell sound sketches on paper. He is currently working on a musical composition that will incorporate and manipulate some of the captured bell sounds. “During my 2015 BMW Art Journey I traveled to eleven countries on five continents, frequently alone,” said the artist. “So now it is all the more exciting to add this new dimension to the journey, in the city I call my home, surrounded by friends, artistic collaborators, and visitors. In the past year I have developed a deeper appreciation for the cultural and psychological meanings of travel, and I hope that though this experience participants in the sound walk will share in this understanding.”

The recordings and interviews collected in the course of the 2015 journey will be a major aspect of the media walk in Hong Kong. These elements will be juxtaposed with personal narratives and local histories which the participants of the walk will experience through films, audio tracks, on-site FM radio broadcasts, live actions, and installation elements dispersed along the route. So You Are Old by the Time You Reach the Island is not the conclusion of the artist’s research conducted on the BMW Art Journey, but rather, a meditation on the notion of the journey itself – the notion that the remembered or anticipated version of a place constitutes the place in its purest, most ideal and uncompromised form.
Altogether some hundred participants will have an opportunity to take part in the performance, which is made possible through a collaboration between Art Basel and BMW. Due to the limited number of slots available, prior registration is requested. For press inquiries, please contact Benedict Tsang,

Later this year, BMW, in collaboration with Art Basel and German publishing house Hatje Cantz, will publish a book featuring Samson Young’s Art Journey, including documentary materials from the Hong Kong walk.