Message from the Commissioner
The year 2001 saw Hong Kong making its debut
in the international visual arts arena as "Hong Kong, China",
when it took part in the Venice Biennale to showcase the achievements
and strength of our local artists.
From "Magic at Street Level" (2001)
and "Navigating the Dot" (2003), to this year's "investigation
of a journey to the west by micro + polo", we have dedicated
ourselves to the task of bringing Hong Kong art to the rest of the
world. We are striving to enhance Hong Kong's profile in the international
arts scene by increasing the number of local and overseas cultural
exchanges and by integrating our art with that of the rest of the
The theme for this year's exhibition is "investigation
of a journey to the west by micro + polo". Under the curatorial
direction of veteran curator Sabrina M Y Fung, the works of two
artists – anothermountainman's red-white-blue Hong Kong-style
tea house and Chan Yuk-keung's inverted cityscape – reflect
their insights into modern society.
The rapid progress of information technology
has brought about the so-called "zero distance" phenomenon,
where human-to-human communication is being gradually relegated
to the virtual realm of the Internet. However, visual artist anothermountainman
reminds us that this "zero distance" is but an illusion.
The distance between people has actually widened because we no longer
value face-to-face communication. Instead, we pour all our words
and emotions onto lifeless electronic screens. To articulate his
concern over this issue, anothermountainman constructed a Hong Kong-style
tea house using red, white and blue plastic fabric, a material commonly
used in everyday life by Hong Kong people. By offering them a cup
of tea, he hopes to encourage viewers to sit down and reconsider
the importance of direct human contact. Chan Yuk-keung's inverted
cityscape encourages us to see things and explore the various façades
of society from different perspectives.
Amid the hustle and bustle of modern city living,
these two artists have issued a wake-up call for us to take a new
look at people and things that have long been forgotten or neglected.
Demonstrating the social function of the arts, their works make
us aware that art can not only inject vitality into the urban landscape
and enhance the quality of life, but at the same time bring about
contact between one human being and another and stimulate personal
contemplation and imagination. By directing us to think beyond the
boundaries of our usual perceptive framework, art enables us to
see the things around us from different angles. This continued contemplation
helps to open the floodgates of our creativity, thus nurturing our
society's talent and increasing our competitiveness.
This is in fact the social function of art
that the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (ADC) has always advocated.
We believe that social support and participation at all levels is
essential to the development of the arts. By showing the community
what art can do – in terms of stimulating creativity and business
opportunities, inspiring new thinking and contributing to learning,
we can solicit their support and involvement more effectively.
Since our establishment in 1995, the ADC has
actively supported the development of local arts groups and artists.
We have brought the arts into schools to improve the learning ability
of students. To make it possible to tap into more social resources,
the ADC collaborates with various sectors of society, seeking cooperative
opportunities for promoting the arts among people from all social
strata and enhancing the capacity for artistic appreciation among
the general public. We also concentrate on promoting arts and cultural
exchanges to help local artists broaden their horizons through closer
ties with their overseas counterparts.
Our participation in the Venice Biennale is
an important part of the exchange and communication between Hong
Kong and the international arts community. The occasion provides
Hong Kong with a chance to engage in genuine artistic exchanges
with friends from over 50 countries and regions. This year's Venice
Biennale will be even more exciting than before. Artists from Mainland
China, Hong Kong and Taiwan will gather under one roof to show the
world the artistic brilliance of the Chinese nation.
Chairman, Hong Kong Arts Development Council