Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize 2015 announces winners

Photographer Ducky Chi Tak wins the third edition of the unique award.

On 10 December 2015, the Justice Centre Hong Kong announced the winners of the 3rd Hong Kong Human Rigths Arts Prize. Art Radar explores the winning artists and their artworks.

Ducky Chi Tak, '3D Jobs - Dirty, Dangerous, Demeaning', 2014, photography, 100 x 67 cm each, edition 1/10. Image courtesy the artist and Justice Centre Hong Kong.

Ducky Chi Tak, ‘3D Jobs – Dirty, Dangerous, Demeaning’, 2014, photography, 100 x 67 cm each, edition 1/10. Image courtesy the artist and Justice Centre Hong Kong.

During a charity auction and gala at The Fringe Club on 10 December, the Justice Centre Hong Kong announced local photographer Ducky Chi Tak as the overall prize winner of the Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize 2015.

The first runner up is photographer Ming Chong Tse, while the second runner up is painter Chi Loy Man. Additionally, the Prize also honoured two more artists with the Justice Centre Choice Award: painter Vasavi Seethepalli at first place and photographer P H Yang at second.

The artists and their artworks were chosen from among 19 shortlisted candidates, selected from a pool of more than 100 entries submitted by Hong Kong-based artists originating from countries as diverse as the United Kingdom, Belgium, the United States, Portugal, Hong Kong and India.

The winning artworks were auctioned live by Christie’s at the award ceremony on 10 December, which also marked the closing of the Prize exhibition that included painting, photography, video, digital and mixed media works. The other finalists’ artworks were silent auctioned the same night. All works were donated to the Justice Centre Hong Kong for the charity auction, to support the organisation and raise funds for its work to protect the rights of forced migrants in Hong Kong.

The shortlisted artists and the winners were selected by a panel of experts, including Faina Derman, Director of Sundaram Tagore Gallery in Hong Kong, art activist and professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong Oscar Ho, art collector and lawyer-turned-entrepreneur Mina Park, and human rights expert and law professor at Hong Kong University Puja Kapai.

Ducky Chi Tak, '3D Jobs - Dirty, Dangerous, Demeaning', 2014, photography, 100 x 67 cm each, edition 1/10. Image courtesy the artist and Justice Centre Hong Kong.

Ducky Chi Tak, ‘3D Jobs – Dirty, Dangerous, Demeaning’, 2014, photography, 100 x 67 cm each, edition 1/10. Image courtesy the artist and Justice Centre Hong Kong.

The winner: Ducky Chi Tak

Also known as Ducky Tse, Ducky Chi Tak has been working as a photographer for more than a decade. He has exhibited and published his work extensively, and is part of private and museum collections. He received the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association’s Photographer of the Year Award in 1994 and the Qilu International Photography Award in 2008 at the China Jinan Contemporary International Photography Biennial. He also was recipient of the Excellence in Feature Photography award from the Society of Publishers in Asia in 2003, 2005 and 2006.

Over the years he has systematically recorded Hong Kong’s transition as a city and the relationship between people and city space, such as in his series West Kowloon Reclamation Project and Hong Kong Political Landscape.

Ducky Chi Tak, '3D Jobs - Dirty, Dangerous, Demeaning', 2014, photography, 100 x 67 cm each, edition 1/10. Image courtesy the artist and Justice Centre Hong Kong.

Ducky Chi Tak, ‘3D Jobs – Dirty, Dangerous, Demeaning’, 2014, photography, 100 x 67 cm each, edition 1/10. Image courtesy the artist and Justice Centre Hong Kong.

Ducky Chi Tak won with his work 3D Jobs – Dirty, Dangerous, Demeaning (2014), a series of photographic portraits addressing issues tied with ethnic minorities and labour rights.

The artist states about his work, as quoted in the exhibition catalogue (PDF download):

Despite the fact that many ethnic minority people speak Cantonese fluently, having poor Chinese language skills has placed many of them in ‘3D Jobs’ — jobs that are Dirty, Dangerous and Demeaning. They have to work long hours and lack job security; thus remain caught in the cycle of poverty.

The runners up

The first runner up of 2015 is Ming Chong Tse, an artist who works in photography, image-making media, time media and theatre art. Tse received an MA in Image and Communication from Goldsmiths College, University of London in 2004 after graduating from Hong Kong Baptist University in the Department of Journalism in 2003. He is Co-founder of Lumenvisum, a workshop dedicated to promoting photography education. He is currently a senior lecturer at Hong Kong Design Institute.

Tse Ming Chong, 'City Series II – The Road', 2014, photography, 70 x 70cm each, edition 1/10. Image courtesy the artist and Justice Centre Hong Kong.

Tse Ming Chong, ‘City Series II – The Road’, 2014, photography, 70 x 70 cm each, edition 1/10. Image courtesy the artist and Justice Centre Hong Kong.

Tse started his artistic pursuit over 25 years ago, with his photograph of Mao Zedong’s portrait taken down from Tiananmen Square. He has documented the evolution of Hong Kong ever since. His works are held in the collections of the Hong Kong Museum of Art, the Hong Kong Heritage Museum and the Hong Kong Film Archive.

At the Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize he presented City Series II – The Road (2014), exploring the Umbrella Movement and Occupy Protests in Hong Kong, the focus of his most recent exhibition at Karin Weber Gallery in Hong Kong in 2015.

As quoted in the exhibition catalogue, Tse says of the significance of the Hong Kong protests and the artwork:

On September 30, 2014, I woke up at 4am and couldn’t fall back to sleep, so I took a car to Central. In the early morning, I walked on the empty quiet streets in Central towards Causeway Bay. Sleeping on the roadside were teenagers who had fought for their dreams, their tired faces radiating a charm with no regret. I couldn’t believe it had been 25 years from Tiananmen Square to Civic Square. Over a quarter of a century has passed yet we are still fighting for democracy and freedom. It is my hope that our pursuit won’t be in vain and that the light will come.

Chi Loy Man, 'My face hit your fist', 2015, acrylic on paper, 38 x 50 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Justice Centre Hong Kong.

Chi Loy Man, ‘My Face Hit Your Fist’, 2015, acrylic on paper, 38 x 50 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Justice Centre Hong Kong.

The second runner up is Hong Kong-born Chi Loy Man. He graduated with a BA in Studio Art from UC Davis in the United States and returned to Hong Kong in 1998. His main interest lies in how living spaces affect people’s thinking, after having lived in the vast areas of the United States and the cramped living spaces of Hong Kong.

His work for the Prize, an acrylic on paper entitled My Face Hit Your Fist (2015), portrays conflicts and human rights.

Vasavi Seethepalli, 'IF ONLY I COULD FLY', 2015, mixed media, 80 x 60 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Justice Centre Hong Kong.

Vasavi Seethepalli, ‘IF ONLY I COULD FLY’, 2015, mixed media, 80 x 60 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Justice Centre Hong Kong.

The Justice Centre Choice Awards

Indian artist Vasavi Seethepalli won the first Justice Centre Choice Award for If Only I Could Fly (2015), a mixed media work about child labour. With no prior education in art, Seethepalli has built a practice on her passion for drawing and colouring. Among her inspirations are artists such as David Hockney, Gerhard Richter, Peter Doig and Hung Liu. Vasavi’s work was recently exhibited at the London Art Biennale and Osaka Art Fair. Her work has also been featured in “Once Upon a Time in Kansai”, a group exhibition in Osaka, Japan 2015.

Quoted in the exhibition catalogue, Seethepalli says about child rights:

Every child has a right, a right to live their childhood–to dream a dream and follow it through. […] A horrendous number of children in the world succumb to child labour in mining, agriculture, construction and domestic areas due to the lack of government intervention and the lack of funds to rehabilitate families in communities where illiteracy and poverty prevail. This painting resonates with what a child hopes and wishes for.

P H Yang, 'What Next for Hong Kong', 2014, photography, 33 x 48 cm, edition 1/10. Image courtesy the artist and Justice Centre Hong Kong.

P H Yang, ‘What Next for Hong Kong’, 2014, photography, 33 x 48 cm, edition 1/10. Image courtesy the artist and Justice Centre Hong Kong.

The second Justice Centre Choice Award went to award-winning photographer P H Yang for his photographic work What Next for Hong Kong (2014) about the fight for democracy and universal suffrage.

His work has been featured in the international media, including CNN, San Francisco Chronicle and the Hong Kong Economic Journal Monthly, among others.

About the work and the political situation faced by Hong Kong today, Yang says:

A protester with a yellow umbrella ponders where she will go next when there is no light at the end of the tunnel, reflecting the current state of affairs for Hong Kong since December 15, 2014, after 79 days of Umbrella Movement when hundreds of thousands occupied the streets of Hong Kong to demand human rights including democracy and genuine universal suffrage. The United Nations Human Rights Committee expressed concern that the demand of the Hong Kong people, enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (a landmark treaty signed by China in 1998) has not been met.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

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