Art news

We all know that Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong micro-manages the fight against separatists, pro-democrats, the Foreign Correspondents Club, and other threats to national security. Now, the department-owned newspaper Wen Wei Po seems to be launching a campaign against evil Western cultural influences – specifically at the M+ still-being-built Museum at the West Kowloon Cultural Hub-Zone District.

A two-part article (in Chinese, here and here) blasts the museum for spending money on the works of a digital art duo called Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries and on pieces from Uli Sigg’s collection. The writer is mightily miffed. He suggests the money should be spent on local artists, but mostly rants about the influence of expatriate curators at M+, Hong Kong’s continued ‘non-return’ to the motherland, and the art scene’s preference for ‘Western junk’ (such as a giant poo sculpture).

The Young-Hae Chang duo are Korean. They create sort-of techno-electronic audio-visual installations, which you may enjoy for free at their website. (More on them here.) I guess the ‘Korean-ness’ is what makes it trendy and meaningful. Even by his un-groovy standards, the Wen Wei Po guy might have a point in asking why M+ should see this as collectible. (And I wonder how a museum ‘acquires’ easily downloadable digital material – apparently M+ is getting some sort of special proof copies.)

Uli Sigg’s is pretty much the world’s foremost collection of contemporary Chinese art, covering the whole of the post-Mao period. It is the core of M+. Among the artists represented are dissident Ai Weiwei, and some items blatantly allude to such forbidden themes as the Tiananmen massacre. Still, the collection is not ‘Western garbage’.

Up until a few years ago, people assumed ‘One Country, Two Systems’ meant Communist ideological-nationalistic cultural correctness wouldn’t be a problem for M+, or the Hong Kong art world generally – remember the amusement when Warhol’s Mao pix weren’t allowed over the border? But now, in the Xi-era, we can’t be so sure, and the HK$5-billion M+’s galleries might have some empty spaces on the wall.

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7 Responses to Art news

  1. Indeed. You think it’s all political but I disagree. It’s all down to racism and jingoism and chauvinism (all branches of much the same thing) really. But Chinese racism is good for keeping China down. Neo-liberals forget this all the time. They pretend that they want an enlightened China but they don’t really want to share their Starbucks cappuccinos, iPads, condos and chinos and loafers with stinking Chinese plebs.

    I note that the Hong Kong Polytechnic has a Department of Chinese Culture.

    I wonder what would happen if a university in England had a Department of British Culture…pictures of Churchill and Thatcher and Enoch Powell on the wall, Elgar on the speakers and Whites-only toilets?

    Hurrah for racist Hong Kong. It keeps the natives down and the British did everything to encourage it.

  2. Chinese Netizen says:

    The empty wall spaces will in themselves be artistic statements.

    I love how commie fuck mouth frothing always draws attention to something that might have been overlooked/forgotten/uncared for and makes it hip and a must see or do.

  3. HillnotPeak says:

    Communists and Culture, always a fine combination.
    Personally I am very fond of those posters of female comrades on tractors and male steel workers, surely drawn by gay artists, as the men are hunky so are the women.

  4. finger pointer says:

    Nice photograph of “The Great Finger of Hong Kong” cluster of buildings.

    And where does that giant bird flip point?

    Directly at Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong.

  5. Lord Elgin says:

    Oh dear. 3.5 billion spent on a museum to try and suck up to Beijing by housing their castoffs and then this happens.

    The irony would be delightful – if Hong Kong were not filled with so many heartbreaking social problems the money could have alleviated

  6. Joe Blow says:

    Racism is woven into Hong Kong’s fabric. But that is also true in Britain, Poland and Alabama.

    Maybe the determination to NOT be a racist is the exception rather than the rule.

  7. steve says:

    Note to George: National studies programs are common in universities across the democratic world. Such programs work best when they take a critical perspective on the very idea of the nation, as well as specific iterations of it. They’re much less common in authoritarian countries, where the prevailing sensitivity/paranoia concerning self-examination makes assembling a pedagogically responsible curriculum close to impossible. It’s hard to build a stable program when you keep having to purge the faculty.

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