Co-curated by Janet Fong and the Hong Kong Museum of Art (HKMoA) and showing at the HKMoA from March, 2021, to May, 2022, recorded over 338,186 visitors till Jan 2022, the exhibition includes artists Chan Yuk-keung, Choi Yan-chi, May Fung, Ellen Pau, Joseph Fung, the founding members and the co-founders of Para/Site (Tsang Tak-ping, Leung Chi-wo, Sara Wong, Patrick Lee, Man Ching-ying, Phoebe, Leung Mee-ping), and (the 2nd generation of Para/Site, Leung Po-shan, Anthony), and the co-founders of NuNaHeDuo (Lee Ka-sing, Holly Lee, Patrick Lee, Lau Ching-ping, and Wong Kai-yu Blues) as seven representative sections of artists and artist collectives.
After two years of research, this art and archives exhibition is being held from March 2021 to May 2022 at HKMoA, highlighting contemporary art history and artistic practices linking the past to the contemporary era through the integrated approach of curatorial practices on exhibition-making. This exhibition examines the crucial turning points, new trends, and sensibilities in contemporary art in Hong Kong during the 1980s and ‘90s.
This exhibition discusses the idea of alternative horizons in combing through the development of Hong Kong contemporary art over these two decades. In bringing this era into the spotlight, this project does not attempt to present it in the form of a historical narrative; instead, it seeks to examine the alternative perspective of the decades as the vantage points of micro- and macro-history. Sarah Maza stated, “In the 1970s and 1980s, microhistory offered historians a revolutionary new perspective: the focus […] was not on explaining historical change but on showing what the world looked like to a specific person at a particular moment in time. Microhistorical incidents […] serve as clues that point us towards a society's 'culture' and its interlocking system of meanings." As a point of departure, the personal and professional experiences of the members of the curatorial and research team are essential. As artistic and cultural practitioners who were nurtured by the new developments in Hong Kong art in the 1980s and ‘90s and have been working for the last twenty to thirty years, they have been active from the very beginning of project planning for this exhibition. In two years’ research, the curators and researchers interviewed and conversed with many artists about the contemporary art of these two decades, in the context of their personal views of history. These dialogues, which include significant verbal records that embody profound subjective sensibilities, provided the diverse perspectives of specific individuals during a particular period, reflecting the cultural debates of the ‘80s and ‘90s through various clues. These experiences and interviews laid the foundation for this research exhibition. They led us to a deeper inquiry into the people, organizations, exhibitions, events, and objects that featured in the art and cultural sphere during the 1980s and ‘90s.
As a highlight of the project, the exhibition sheds light on the creative breakthroughs of young artists in the ‘80s and ‘90s in different media, including installation art, new media, and image-making, which ushered in the rise of new artistic experimentation, visions, and formats at that time in Hong Kong. In addition to the showcase of artworks by seven representative sections of artists and artist collectives, the exhibition also features a restaging of iconic art spaces of the time—Para/Site and the NuNaHeDuo Centre of Photography in the 1990s—in the Hong Kong Museum of Art. With artworks and archival materials, viewers find themselves connecting the past with the present, as the blurring of temporal boundaries takes them on a cultural and historical journey. A multi-dimensional and imaginative space is created, offering viewers interactive experiences and associations with fragments of art history of Hong Kong of the ‘80s and ‘90s. The unique modes of spatial engagement and abundance of archival images and materials give viewers embodied interpretation tools to develop an understanding and knowledge of contemporary art forms in an immersive manner.
The archives section is an important part of the project. Through various channels, we collected and compiled the works of art practitioners (including our mentors, friends, and colleagues), and information about various aspects of the era, such as events, organizations, texts, artistic ideologies, and educational philosophies. This section is presented as image and text panels in various places throughout the exhibition hall and includes sections on Ellen Pau, Para/Site, and NuNaHeDuo Centre of Photography, with real historical objects and digitized materials. All the artists represented in the exhibition have been active since the ‘80s and ‘90s, not only in their artistic practice but also through their involvement in different aspects of the development of art and culture in Hong Kong. The exhibition showcases their current art practice against the backdrop of their previous works from the ‘80s and ‘90s, demonstrating how they are reimagining their practice by making original connections with the contemporary context.
Meanwhile, our researcher, Lo Yin Shan, with her insider’s perspective as an artist, offers an intimate view in her series “Discourse of Reimagined Hong Kong Art Communities.” This is showcased at the exhibition as an individual unit in a dedicated corner, containing archival materials, texts, photographs, video recordings, interviews, and displays of historical objects.
This exhibition is divided into the following seven units by artist or artist collective, containing artworks alongside archival panels. It demonstrates alternative perspectives on unraveling the art history of the ‘80s and ‘90s in Hong Kong, with more dimensions and an integrated approach to curatorial practices of exhibition-making.
Choi Yan Chi
A pioneer of the New Esthetics in Hong Kong in the 1980s, Choi Yan Chi presents a reinterpretation of Light and Shadow, a site-specific work that she created for the first installation art exhibition at the Hong Kong Arts Centre in 1985. When Hong Kong art was still centered on modernist painting and sculpture, Choi broke new ground with her experimental and interactive work that introduced the international avant-garde into Hong Kong art. Since then, installation and cross-media art have become prominent trends in 21st-century contemporary art. What has remained unchanged in Choi’s artistic practice is her poetic sensitivity through the changing times, as she draws on her life experiences and translates immense emotions into subtle expressions. While the display of the 2020 work was similar to that of her 1985 installation, Choi gave a new title to this site-specific work—The Crimson Twilight on the Butterfly Dream—an allusion to our time that lends deeper nuance to the work. Being lured into the artist’s world by music, the viewer walks between fragments of Choi’s memories, including images, poems, and Chinese calligraphies by her husband and artist, Hon Chi Fun, printed on hanging gauze scrolls, highlighting features of the unique museum space that looks out onto the Victoria Harbor and the Kowloon Peninsula. The space of the exhibition-making reflects the setting and the visitors’ presence, as well as the artist’s reminiscences and the imprints of the times. The immersive participation instills the site with an intense experience that embodies the spirit of the ‘80s and ‘90s. It echoes the founding of 1a space as a manifesto for the life of art, and the quest of Choi and her contemporaries as cultural trailblazers.
Para/Site—Coffee Shop 1998 (2020 Version)
This display presents a reconstruction of the ground floor space of Para/Site on Po Yan Street in Sheung Wan. Founded in 1996, Para/Site was the first established alternative art space in Hong Kong and was a leader in experimental creation and exhibition. Through a variety of initiatives, including exhibitions, publications, experiments, and educational projects, Para/Site has fostered creative exchange in Hong Kong and beyond. This was manifested in Coffee Shop, the first site-specific work presented at Para/Site in 1998. The participating artists included co-founders Patrick Lee, Leung Chi Wo, Leung Mee Ping, Phoebe Man, Kith Tsang, and Sara Wong, who, with Para/Site creative director Anthony Leung Po Shan, turned the space into a makeshift coffee shop. The collaborative experiment embodied the essence of daily life in Hong Kong—from the opening performance to the artists’ works displayed around the “coffee shop.” Twenty-two years later, this experiment has been restaged at The Attic on the 5/F of the Hong Kong Museum of Art. In a bid to recreate the original setting, the new work features objects and materials that were used in the 1998 creation. In 2020, the “coffee shop” was lit up by sunlight from Victoria Harbor. The viewer interacts with the work and the site while looking back at the past. The rendition sets out to illuminate the drama of passing time and the experimental quest of Para/Site that echoes the spirit of Hong Kong. Over the past two decades, Para/Site has evolved from a local art space that sought to establish a unique cultural sphere in Hong Kong, to a platform for international connections and innovation in contemporary art and culture. Compared to the 2019 version that Para/Site presented in its current space, the 2021 version is a more faithful recreation of the original in terms of effects and on-site atmosphere, with Para/Site’s international vision and its contemporaneity.
Kurt Chan Yuk Keung
Kurt Chan recreates his mixed-media installation, Untitled, which he presented at the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art at the Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia, in 1996. From 1979 to the early 1980s, Chan was influenced by the ideologies of Chinese culture and art, while also following the development of the international art world and his contemporaries. In the 1990s, Chan established “domestic esthetics,” his unique conception of mixed media art creation, which he incorporated into his teaching in Hong Kong. Since 1989, he has nurtured several generations of young artists at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, leaving a profound impact on contemporary Hong Kong esthetics in the past three decades. In this rendition of Untitled, Chan assembles unrelated found objects from daily life. He uses two poles to hang up two large pieces of existing materials, which seems to lend an additional dimension to the space between the installation and the walls, creating a spatial texture that is uniquely suggestive of Hong Kong. Chan also emphasizes the idea of anti-gravity: the two heavy poles are supported by two delicate porcelain cups, which seems to mock the bizarre reality we live in. While Chan attempts to resurrect the form of the 1996 work—for instance, he includes flour bags in the new work as he did in the original—they are existing flour bags from 2020, rather than from 1996, that he is using, which hints at the inevitability of change. Perhaps the use of the original title, Untitled, is an allusion to the intersection of cultural contexts in his art.
Ellen Pau Hoi Lun
Recycling Cinema is one of Ellen Pau’s most significant video installations. Since the 1980s, Pau has examined the characteristics of different media, creative visions, images, and the intricate relationship between the image-maker and technology in her work. Pau is a pioneer in the merging of new technology and art in Hong Kong. She co-founded Videotage with three other artists, and the collective received funding from the then newly established Hong Kong Arts Development Council in 1996. The funding for Videotage was a sign of growing recognition for media and video art that Pau had been advocating. In 2001, Recycling Cinema was presented at the first Hong Kong Pavilion at the 49th Venice Biennale, which reflected the importance of media art and video art in Hong Kong contemporary art. Apart from her participation in major international exhibitions, Pau has been devoted to promoting the development of Videotage and its offshoot, the Microwave International New Media Arts Festival. The collective and the festival set out to explore new frontiers in media and video art—including new media and technology that have been focal points in art-making in recent years—and have become platforms for local and international dialogue on contemporary art. These accomplishments are testimony to Pau’s status as a central figure in the development of contemporary Hong Kong art.
May Fung Mei Wah
May Fung has been one of the trailblazers in media and video art in Hong Kong. The 1989 and 2016 versions of her seminal work of video art, She Said Why Me, are featured in this exhibition. Her 1989 video depicts a woman walking blindfolded from a temple in the countryside to bustling downtown Hong Kong. Interspersed with historical footage, the images ring with a deep sense of anxiety, and questions about the collective identity of women. Fung presented her 2016 video installation of She Said Why Me at the 30th anniversary exhibition of Videotage. Fung’s own performance as one of the characters creates a sense of detachment from the work. At this exhibition, the two earlier versions of the work are shown on two display screens that are set up on opposite sides of a rotating monument-like stage. In contrast, in the 2020 version of this installation, the viewer had to physically follow its movement to watch the video. The simultaneous display of the three versions symbolizes the different stages of Fung’s life. An experimental filmmaker in the 1970s, she ventured into video art in the 1980s. After she co-founded Videotage and joined Zuni Icosahedron in 1986, Fung was involved in the founding of 1a space, the Cattle Depot School, the Hong Kong Institute of Contemporary Culture, and subsequently the HKICC Lee Shau Kee School of Activity, the Foo Tak Building, and Art and Culture Outreach. All these initiatives have been instrumental in the development of art and culture in Hong Kong. The 2020 version of She Said Why Me captures Fung’s responses to the ideological and cultural consciousness in Hong Kong at three different points in time (1989, 2016, and 2020). It demonstrates her lifelong quest for creative experimentation and her devotion to steering the development of Hong Kong’s cultural ecology.
Joseph Fung Hon Kee
A pivotal figure in the development of photographic art in Hong Kong, Joseph Fung has made immense contributions as a photographer, educator, artist, and curator. While Fung’s life journey is extraordinary, his artistic practice is a ceaseless inquiry into new possibilities in image-making: it spans an array of genres and forms including portraiture, social documentary photography, conceptual documentary, experimental photography, photogram, polaroid, and 3D digital imaging (in the 1990s). Fung was among the first group of photographers who entered China after the opening of the country. He shot a substantial volume of black-and-white images of the country, which he later combined with color works that he shot around the world, and this culminated in the two series featured in this exhibition: East-West Diptychs (1986–89/2013), and The Butterfly Dream Series (1998), a series of 3D digital images. They are displayed on old Macintosh computers from the same period, where the low resolution takes the viewer back to the dawn of the digital era in the 1990s. The works delineate Fung’s creative journey from photography to digital imaging; they trace the changes in his photographic language in response to different social and cultural contexts, which mirror the development of contemporary photography in Hong Kong over the past decades. Fung’s contributions are not only manifested in his expansive repertoire, but also in his advocacy of photography education in Hong Kong over the past thirty years. Many artists who studied under Fung’s tutelage are important artists and educators in their own right today. Fung’s influence has also been seen in the Hong Kong International Photo Festival, which has expanded its curatorial focus and showcase in recent years.
Dislocation (aka NuNaHeDuo) was a photography publication that embodied the concept of the crossover exhibition on paper, as it featured the works of artists and creatives in response to various issues. Edited by Lee Ka Sing, Holly Lee, Lau Ching Ping, Patrick Lee, and Blues Wong, the publication demonstrated the development of contemporary photography (image-making) in Hong Kong. From 1992 to 1998, it was distributed as a supplement to the Photo Pictorial. With funding from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, the artist collective founded the art space, the NuNaHeDuo Center of Photography (NCP) (1997–1999). In conjunction with the OP Print Program, the NCP advocated the development of contemporary photography in Hong Kong. In this exhibition, we present a reconstruction of the exhibition space of the NCP. The photographic works of the five founding members of Dislocation, which range from digital images that were innovative in the 1990s, to poetic expressions and photographic projections of intense sensitivity, are exhibited in the reconstructed space. Selected volumes of Dislocation (original printed volumes and digital versions) are also displayed. The showcase illuminates the unique landscape of image-making of the 1990s.
In this exhibition, we consider the idea of new horizons as a starting point in combing and seeing through the development of Hong Kong’s contemporary art, and in exploring the links between personal experiences, organizations, events, and the development of local culture. It is the quest to trace the historical connections between the individual and changes in contemporary culture, in order to shed light on the present and the future.
New Horizons: Ways of Seeing Hong Kong Art in the ‘80s and ‘90s
at the Hong Kong Museum of Art
Presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, HKSAR
Organized by the Hong Kong Museum of Art
P.S. Digital Archive of the Exhibition by Hong Kong Museum of Art, will be launched in 2022
 Stefano Collicelli Cagol, "Exhibition History and the Institute as a Medium," Stedelijk Studies 2 (Spring 2015), https://stedelijkstudies.com/journal/exhibition-history-and-the-institution-as-a-medium/.
 Pau’s work has been featured in many major international arts festivals and film festivals, including the Hong Kong International Film Festival (1990, 1993, 1997, 2000), the 8th International Film Festival for Women (Spain, 1992), the Copenhagen Cultural Capital Foundation, Container 96 (Denmark, 1996), the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (Brisbane, 1996), the Johannesburg Biennial (1997), the Gwangju Biennial (2002), the Liverpool Biennial (2003), and the Sydney International Film Festival (2004).
 In 1996, she founded the Microwave International New Media Arts Festival, an annual event that consists of exhibitions, conferences, seminars, and workshops, bringing art experiences to thousands of Hong Kongers.
 Fung was born in Guangzhou, China in the 1930s. During his childhood, he traveled between mainland China and Hong Kong, and he later moved to Hong Kong. Fung lived in Macau during the Japanese Occupation, before he went to study medicine in Taiwan to evade the Cultural Revolution. After the opening of China in 1978, he became one of the first photographers who entered the country. In the 1980s, he taught photography at the Hong Kong Polytechnic. Reaching a bottleneck in his artistic practice, Fung went to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
 Bao Kun, “Between China and West, Old and New: The Photography of Joseph Fung,” in Time/Space: Brief as Photos—Dialogue Between Joseph Fung and His Contemporaries (Hong Kong: Hong Kong Arts Centre, 2018), 27.
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