Eva Kit Wah Man
Hong Hong Baptist University
In this presentation Lee Kit’s art installation at the Venice Biennale in 2013 is used as a case study of the ways in which artworks represent and help to construct representations of Hong Kong’s challenge to and subversion of an aggressive and powerful rising China. In contrast with the explicit social critique and grandeur of artworks exhibited in the China Pavilion, Lee Kit’s art installation – “an impressionistic house” – in the Hong Kong Pavilion appears not only abstract but mundane and even trivial. As the artist was handpicked by the organizer, without any prior public consultation, there has been heated public debate on the extent to which it is representative of Hongkongness. I argue that the apparently trivial and ordinary elements of Lee’s work constitute rather than reflect the new generation of Hong Kong art. These elements may also be part of a strategy for negotiating the political identity inescapably imposed on Hong Kong by China. Hong Kong art now has the potential to distance itself from or express skepticism toward the grand narratives presented by China, to paraphrase the writing of art historian David Clarke (1997). I believe part of the aims of the international conference on “Hong Kong as Method” held at the University of Hong Kong in December 2014 is to use the ordinary to destabilize and challenge Hong Kong’s taken-forgranted political identity and thereby promote diversity and inter-Asian cultural dynamics.
installation art, Hong-Kongness, Chineseness, identity politics, gobalism