‘Our members range from graphic designers and artists to painters, photographers and videographers – but also friends, supporters and people who are interested in art and design without being ‘artists’. It was really important for me to include these supporters; those who always turn up to our events no matter what. dtby_ extends beyond those who create the work – it’s not about a squad or a gang. Even if you don’t relate to specific work sometimes, it’s about relating to people and learning why they do what they do.
‘The first festival we did had the theme of ‘Homeland’. Our second event, Be There 2 (2020) was ‘The Body’. We presented across three floors: design, photography and then design/ marketing, and that reflected what we wanted to do – design, produce and curate together. No matter what topic we chose, everyone had a very different interpretation of it. We’ve never had a visual aesthetic to dtby_, because we consciously wanted to be a hub for all ideas. We wanted to make sure we were inclusive of all stories, which is why we brought different people together for the project. We don’t want to shut people down or only have one voice.
‘Living in Hong Kong, a lot of people are very conservative, as is the art. Many of the international artists that we got involved were very risque and, actually, people liked it. Our collective was very happy that they were able to be in a roster that featured such a range of different art from different people. I think the thing that ties us all together is the fact that we are very open-minded and love sharing stories. Effective storytelling, at the end of the day, is about not just sticking to one kind that’s told in one way. What we want to do is let these stories all coexist in the same space.
‘We had a photographer at our first event, Oscar Rendón, who grew up in Monterrey, Mexico. He wanted to take photos of all the people who came in and out of the city via train, trying to escape to America. Obviously, this is something very deep and important. Alongside this, we featured a photographer from Amsterdam named Ferry van der Nat who shoots Tom Ford’s campaigns, and the two worked very well together. We don’t believe that they have to exist independently of each other. I suppose you could also say that dtby_ is a platform. In Hong Kong, people seem to run away from subjects that upset them, so we’re somewhere that talks about everything. I don’t want to only hang around with people I understand – that’s dangerous. I don’t want to say ‘‘no’’ to anyone. I want to hang out, work and create without prejudice. That’s what art is.’
Images by Jocelyn Tam