Contagious Cities: ‘Far away, Too Close’ Explores Hong Kong’s Pandemics History

Why We Recommend it

Local arts, culture and heritage organisations tell stimulating stories of the city’s history of epidemics and its social impact, tracing back from the 19th century plague to the SARS outbreak in 2003.


As the opening event of London-based global charitable foundation Wellcome Trusts’ six-month long programme Contagious Cities, ‘Far Away, Too Close’ explores the psychological and emotional dimensions of disease and contagion in Hong Kong, as well as their relationship with people and their ways of life. Worthy of note is the heritage component in the exhibition which addresses the historical context of the bubonic plague in 1894 as well as its ties to Tai Kwun and the city’s perpetual changes in daily lives and development ever since.

The exhibition features ten emerging and established artists from the Asian region, whose works are experiential, interactive, performative and video-based. It further includes UK-based artist collective Blast Theory’s ‘A Cluster of 17 Cases’, an interactive installation that looks at the World Health Organisation’s response to the 2003 SARS epidemic that started at the Metropole Hotel in Hong Kong.

Contagious Cities is an international cultural project that is taking place across global cities including New York, London and Geneva to foster conversations about epidemic preparedness and how diseases have shaped the cities physically, socially and culturally. The Hong Kong instalment signifies Wellcome Trust’s first project of its kind in Asia.



When: 26 Jan 2019 - 21 Apr 2019 Where: Various