Hong Kong art fair ART HK 12: Art practice and the camera lens – 3 artists discuss at Asia Art Archive


The last of Asia Art Archive’s ART HK Backroom Conversations educational programming series was a lecture entitled “Artists Through the Lens”, a series of conversations between curators and artists. Art Radar watched via video stream and live-tweeted the talk.

Tam Wai Ping: not an art photographer

First up was Janet Chan, Assistant Head of Research+ at AAA speaking with local artist Tam Wai Ping. Tam, a conceptual photographer, talked about his aim to use photography to document his memories. In addition to his blunt admission that he is not interested in making art photography, he also talked about how problematic it is to ascribe meaning to his work. He specifically talked about a photo he took back in his journalist days in which he is holding up his press pass in front of the official ceremony returning Hong Kong to Chinese rule in 1997. While many have interpreted this work from a political standpoint, Tam insists he was merely having fun.

Video feed screenshot of Janet Chan and Tam Wai Ping at the AAA Backroom Coversations talk.

Tam Wai Ping is a conceptual artist from Hong Kong. Though he is well-known for his photography, he also works in a range of different media, including installation and environmental artwork. He is a Founder and Co-Chairman of Artmap, a Hong Kong art news blog, and he currently teaches studio art at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Cao Fei: social media and technology art

Second on the roster was Chinese photographer Cao Fei in conversation with Hu Fang, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Vitamin Creative Space in Guangzhou. Cao talked about her recent work which engages Chinese social media platforms, such as the Twitter-like Sina Weibo. She discussed how the proliferation of technology has changed our relationship to the medium of photography, and that her work now engages these changes. Cao also said that since having her two children, her perspective on the world around her has greatly shifted, moving her away from the sort of thematic abstraction many artists use when dealing with issues of ordinary life.

Screenshot of Hu Fang and Cao Fei at AAA's "Artists Through the Lens" talk.

Cao Fei is an influential young Chinese artist. She is most well-known for her works depicting youths dressed up in cos-play outfits and their interactions with the real world. She is also involved in video and Internet art, and has worked extensively with the online virtual world Second Life. Cao has exhibited in many gallery shows and biennials internationally, including the Venice Biennale in 2003 and 2007, and she was a finalist for the 2010 Hugo Boss Prize.

Chen Chieh-jen: documenting fading industrial Taiwan

Last up was curator Amy Cheng sitting with Taiwanese photographer Chen Chieh-jen. Chen, who was older than the two previous artist speakers, talked about his photographs that were inspired by his time working in factories around his home country. The artist aimed to document the workers’ struggles as China and Southeast Asian nations began to weaken Taiwan’s manufacturing industry. He also discussed the famous Liverpool docker’s strike, where harbour workers in Kaohsiung unwittingly unloaded a cargo ship loaded by scabs (dock workers that do not belong to a labour union) that had been rejected by other stevedores around the world as a show of solidarity.

Screenshot of Chen Chieh-jen.

Chen Chieh-jen is a Taiwanese photographer and filmmaker who examines Taiwan’s contemporary history. He is interested in how the processes of modernisation and globalisation have shaped Taiwanese society today. He is also interested in Taiwan’s international situation and its position in the global community. He has participated in many international exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale in 1999 and the Gwangju Biennale in 2000.

For their “Artists Through the Lens” talk, Asia Art Archive invited three multi-disciplinary artists to discuss the role of the camera lens in their artistic practices. It was the last of the AAA’s Backroom Conversations, the official educational programming for the Hong Kong International Art Fair for the last five years.


Want to be part of the contemporary art conversation? Click here to express your interest in our online art journalism certificate programme. Summer intake application deadline: 4 June 2012.

Click here to read our rolling media round-up of ART HK 12 articles

Click here to read our coverage of ART HK 12

Related Topics: art fairslectures and talksart in Hong Kong, photography

Related Posts:

Subscribe to Art Radar for more on non-profit art groups in Asia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.