Four artists and a curator from Hong Kong discuss identity and creative processes in the city, opening the Art Basel Hong Kong Conversations series.
On 19 May 2013, the first Art Basel Hong Kong Conversation took place between Hong Kong-based artists Chow Chun Fai, Ho Sin Tung, Adrian Wong, Linda Lai and curator Pauline J. Yao. Themed “Homegrown Talent”, the discussion explored identity and creativity in Hong Kong.
Watch the Conversation “Homegrown Talent” from Art Basel on YouTube.com below.
Fast-changing, crowded, politicised and, unlike other globalised art hubs, imbued with a powerful sense of place and identity. These are some of the opinions given about Hong Kong during “Homegrown Talent“.
Pauline Yao, Curator at the new museum for visual culture M+, West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong, introduces each of the four artists as working mainly with a specific medium: Adrian Wong with sculpture, Ho Sin Tung with drawing, Linda Lai, Associate Professor at the School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong as well as being an artist, with video and Chow Chun Fai with painting.
Yao sets the tone of the conversation by posing questions about creative practice and what it means to the artists to work in Hong Kong, a city that, she says, “has its own sea of artistic production, different from other locations”.
Effects of space and materials on practice
Chow Chun Fai reflects on factors and issues of physical space by looking at the history of the arts in Hong Kong, where artists have been able to have studios only since the 1990s. Linda Lai and Ho Sin Tung express concerns about the changes that one witnesses in the city’s landscape on an everyday basis and how this has influenced their artistic practices. Contrary to this Adrian Wong, who came to Hong Kong from Chicago in 2005, says that he has been able to work in the city because of the easy availability of materials and studio space.
Ho Sin Tung notes that media labels such as “drawing”, generally used to define an artist’s practice, create limitations and she stresses the fact that she works in multiple media, never consciously creating works that identify her as a Hong Kong artist. Explaining her creative process, Linda Lai says that she self-consciously calls herself an intermedia artist who primarily works with moving images.
Research in art
The notion of research, the participants acknowledge, is sometimes thought to be unimportant to creativity. Linda Lai disagrees with this, expressing the opinion that research is about discovering new things and making new decisions. Adrian Wong’s research is not fully formed from the outset of a project and rather comes out in the process of engaging in activities. Explaining one of his current works, based on age regression hypnotherapy, Wong says he makes fake calls to hypnotherapists to gather information.
Artist-run spaces and artist collectives
Responding to a question from the audience about the existence of artist collectives and artist-run spaces in Hong Kong, Adrian Wong states that the city has a sense of community, with open studios allowing artists to interact. Wong goes on to say that the scarcity of international artists in Hong Kong results in a fair amount of travelling further afield to explore the international art scene, namely to Singapore, Tokyo, Bangkok and Beijing.
Chow Chun Fai feels that most artists in Hong Kong do not have the luxury of having assistants or large studios, although artists in the city collaborate and work in a different manner that may not fit strictly into the definition of artist collectives.
- “Hong Kong Eye”: New narratives in Hong Kong contemporary art – picture feast – May 2013 – an exhibition by 24 artists from Hong Kong
- Hong Kong artist Hung Keung’s digital art in a “yellow box” – Schoeni video interview – April 2013 – artist Hung Keung adds his viewpoint to the East versus West debate
- Hong Kong art fair ART HK 12: Art practice and the camera lens – 3 artists discuss at Asia Art Archive – May 2012 – series of conversations between artists and curators at ART HK 12
- Your interpretation or mine? Hong Kong artist Chow Chun Fai reflects in video interview – July 2010 – Fai on his Fotanian identity
- Fotan 2010 – a growing cluster of art studios in Hong Kong – February 2010 – art studios based in Fotan on the rise
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