Ecological Art Practices in Hong Kong (1997-2017)

Project: Research

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In 1998, an exhibition titled Hong Kong Reincarnated was staged in Hong Kong ArtsCentre. Nineteen artists created artworks related to the mythical half-fish half-human figureLo Ting. From 2004 to 2008, Almond Chu photographed Hong Kong’s landfills, recyclingstations, and polluted waters, and named this series Artificial Landscape. Since 2009, LamTung-pang has been working on a series of paintings titled Nature as Metaphor, reflecting onthe mediatization of animal imagery amidst climate change. Since 2013 photographer TaiNgai-lung has been working in Northeast New Territories to document rural lives andhabitats threatened by urban development initiatives.Over the past two decades, Hong Kong artists have created a substantial body ofworks addressing a wide range of ecological issues. This research project aims to documenttheir practices, analyze the relationship between art and ecology within Hong Kong’sparticular social, political, and ecological conditions, and contribute to theoretical discussionson eco-aesthetics. I aim to answer the following questions: What strategies have Hong Kongartists developed to address contemporary ecological concerns? How have they reflected onthe relationship between Hong Kong’s ecology and its colonial history, capitalist ideology,and attenuated autonomy? How have they integrated activism with formal experimentation?What institutional and discursive forces have enabled ecological art practices to flourish inrecent years? What areas could be further explored by the next generation of artists?This project builds on my current GRF project, “Contemporary Art and PoliticalEcology in Post-Socialist China,” which covers Mainland China. Last year I and Dr. Sohl Lee(Stony Brook University, US) co-edited a journal special issue titled “Contemporary Art andEcology in East Asia.” We received a large number of submissions, but there was nothing onHong Kong. This prompted me to look into Hong Kong’s ecological art practices. A largenumber of Hong Kong artists have been making ecological works but no scholar has studiedthis vibrant and important field comprehensively. The proposed research aims to fill this gap.This project includes two components. First, I will perform literature review, collectprimary materials, and conduct interviews with key artists as well as environmental activists.I speak Cantonese fluently. Images and videos collected will be uploaded to an onlinearchive. Second, I will produce a book-length manuscript to trace the development ofecological art practices in Hong Kong over the past two decades, analyze important artworks,articulate artistic strategies, and discuss key theoretical issues.


Project number9042755
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/19 → …