In March 2013, Asia Art Archive and the Hong Kong Museum of Art commenced work on the collaborative ‘Hong Kong Art History Research - Pilot Project.’ This marks the beginning of a long-term endeavour to develop a publicly available resource platform to support art historical research on recent art in Hong Kong. Building on previous and existing research efforts, this pilot aims to develop a framework for a richer contextual picture of Hong Kong’ s art ecology in the 1960-70s.
The Pilot pursues strands of inquiry that include exhibitions, pedagogy, art writing in Chinese and English, and modes of exchange between Hong Kong and other geographies. Centered around a new series of professionally documented interviews that include multiple voices and perspectives, the Pilot has also digitised a selection of materials from the archives of Asia Art Archive, the Hong Kong Museum of Art, and the personal collections of leading arts professionals.
A day of panel discussions on 9 November 2013 marks the launch of the Pilot Project. Materials digitised under the umbrella of the Pilot Project will be made available for research online over the next few months.
Lines of Inquiry
In attempting to map Hong Kong’ s artistic milieu in the 1960-1970s, the Pilot Project follows several lines of inquiry that function as: entry points; guidelines for research; framing interview questions; as well as assessing and collecting archival materials.
Exhibitions are where art works meet their publics but they are also sites of art historical constructions. What were the curatorial strategies, institutional demands, and socio-political conditions. How were exhibitions developed? What were the individual and institutional exigencies that drove exhibition making and circulation? Who were the audiences?
Art schools are not only sites where artistic techniques are developed and passed on, but also where spheres of influence are formed and ideas exchanged. Teaching is at the same time for some a means to sustain a living. What was (or was not) taught in art schools in Hong Kong in the1960-1970s? How did such an approach to education shape the art ecology of Hong Kong?
Writing plays a vital role in disseminating ideas and information and generating discourse around art. What forms of art writing circulated in 1960-70s Hong Kong? What was the role of language? In what medium did these writings circulate? How important was writing in building an audience? Who was reading such writings?
Exchange between art and cultural ecologies takes many forms. For the purposes of the Pilot Project, we have specifically examined modes of exchange that include exhibitions, teaching posts, and writing. What were the significant exchanges that occurred between the art ecologies of Hong Kong and that of other geographies in the 1960s -70s? Who were the agents, what circuits of privilege enabled such exchanges, and how have these exchanges impacted the art scene?
Tools for research
A number of tools and resources to facilitate research have been developed and made available as part of this Pilot Project, and they include:
Researchers and guest interviewers conducted five new, long-form, researched, and professionally documented interviews from multiple perspectives. Edited versions are included in the enclosed DVD. Full interviews are available at the AAA and HKMA libraries. Bilingual transcriptions of the full interviews will soon be available online. The aim of these interviews is not to be comprehensive, but to make more visible elements of practice and the artistic milieu that have not been explored in depth. These interviews also add greater depth and breadth to existing narratives in circulation.
An expanding list of key exhibitions on and related to art in Hong Kong held in and outside of Hong Kong is continuously being compiled. As of now this list includes exhibitions held by the Hong Kong Museum of Art from 1962-1979, as well as key exhibitions the five interviewees participated in. This information can be accessed here.
Bibliographies of key texts by and about the five interviewees are being compiled as part of the Pilot Project. This list includes any previous interviews of the five interviewees. This information will be made available online.
The Pilot Project has digitised a selection of materials from the archives of Asia Art Archive, the Hong Kong Museum of Art, and the personal collections of leading arts professionals. The process of making digitised materials available online is ongoing. Contribution of further material and the verification of information are highly welcomed.
Individuals who have generously contributed materials for digitisation at this initial stage include Nigel CAMERON, HON Chi-fun, MUI Chong Kee, Sandra WALTERS, and Wucius WONG.
More archival materials will be digitised and made available as this project develops.