|Jaffa Lam, an installation in the Hong Kong Contemporary Art Awards at the Hong Kong Art Museum|
On past trips to Hong Kong I have met and interviewed Lam Tung-pang, Hanison Hok-shing Lau, Wong Chung-yu and Carol Lee Mei-kuen - all fascinating artists and all passionate about Hong Kong and its history.
|Carol Lee Mei-kuen, 'Little Lace Frock', 2011, sun on paper, image courtesy the artist|
I specifically wanted to meet female artists on this visit as that is the focus of my current project in China. I intended to ask them about their practice, their views on the Hong Kong art scene, and also that thorny question which Chinese artists on the Mainland often find so hard to respond to - "is it harder for women to sustain a successful art career, and if so, why?" Responses I have had in the past to this question vary from a very terse "Of course it's harder, China is still a patriarchal society!" and "There is no feminism in China - it's a western construct" (both responses from very famous artists in their 50s who shall remain nameless for now) to "No, it's easier for me because I don't have to support a family" and "No, it's easier because there is more pressure on men to be successful" (both responses from young - and currently childless - artists in their late 20s and early 30s) to a blank "I don't understand this question." The other day a translator told me in the midst of my interview with an artist that she could not translate the word "feminism" into Chinese. This surprised me a little since both my dictionaries and even Google Translate seem to have no problem with it. I had to say, "But I think you can, actually!", and then give her a rather long-winded explanation.
Hong Kong is a very different place however, and I was fascinated to discover the highly sophisticated and aware understandings of contemporary critical theory and art practice in the work of 4 very different artists. Here is the start of my article about those recent encounters, published today on theculturetrip.com I have added a few additional images to this post.