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 Arts Centre. Nineteen artists created artworks related to the mythical half-fish half-human figure Lo Ting. From 2004 to 2008, Almond Chu photographed Hong Kong’s landfills, recycling stations, and polluted waters, and named this series Artificial Landscape. Since 2009, Lam Tung-pang has been working on a series of paintings titled Nature as Metaphor, reflecting on the mediatization of animal imagery amidst climate change. Since 2013 photographer Tai Ngai-lung has been working in Northeast New Territories to document rural lives and habitats threatened by urban development initiatives.Over the past two decades, Hong Kong artists have created a substantial body of works addressing a wide range of ecological issues. This research project aims to document their practices, analyze the relationship between art and ecology within Hong Kong’s particular social, political, and ecological conditions, and contribute to theoretical discussions on eco-aesthetics. I aim to answer the following questions: What strategies have Hong Kong artists developed to address contemporary ecological concerns? How have they reflected on the 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 in recent years? What areas could be further explored by the next generation of artists?This project builds on my current GRF project, “Contemporary Art and Political Ecology 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 and Ecology in East Asia.” We received a large number of submissions, but there was nothing on Hong Kong. This prompted me to look into Hong Kong’s ecological art practices. A large number of Hong Kong artists have been making ecological works but no scholar has studied this vibrant and important field comprehensively. The proposed research aims to fill this gap.This project includes two components. First, I will perform literature review, collect primary 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 online archive. Second, I will produce a book-length manuscript to trace the development of ecological 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 → …