Ellen Pau Archive 鮑藹倫檔案
The personal archive of Hong Kong-based artist, organiser, curator, and educator Ellen Pau provides unique insight into the development of video art in Hong Kong. It also documents her many community and artistic involvements, and through these, the development of organisations such as Videotage, the Microwave International New Media Arts Festival, and contemporary feminist and experimental art circles, as well as the local LGBTQ community.
Phase I of the archival project is made available online in December 2022. The archive is set to complete in Spring 2023.
Ellen Pau（鮑藹倫）was born in Hong Kong in 1961 to a doctor family: her mother was a midwife at a public hospital, and her father was assistant medical superintendent（副院長）of Grantham Hospital. Her parents were extremely cosmopolitan in outlook, giving Pau no separate Chinese name（藹倫）. In the same year that she attended Expo ’70 in Osaka, Japan, where the Pepsi Pavilion famously organised by the Experiments in Art and Technology group that Pau only came to know in restrospect left a lasting impression on her, Pau developed an interest in photography, when her father gifted her a Kodak Pocket Instamatic camera with 110 film during her primary school years. These early experiences mapped out her interests in technology, imaging, and the blending of cultures. She graduated from Hong Kong Polytechnic with a professional diploma in diagnostic radiography in 1985, and has worked as a radiographer and mammographer at public hospital since. Parallel to her medical practice, Pau has led an intensely productive artistic career, beginning with her first super-8 film, Glove (1984), made right before her engagement with the Phoenix Cine Club. She subsequently discovered video as her preferred medium through working as a camera person with Zuni Icosahedron and others, eventually acquiring her own video camera in Tsim Sha Tsui, and making a number of single-channel video works, including Disenchantment of the Statue (her first video work, 1987), TV Game of the Year, and She Moves (1989), and Song of the Goddess (1992), the last of which was made following a year spent in New York on a grant from the Asian Cultural Council. As part of a broader evolution in video art, she began to incorporate sculptural and audio elements in video-based installations around the early-mid nineties, including I Can Only Tell It to Strangers (1996), shown at the Container 96 exhibition in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Recycling Cinema (2000), Pau’s contribution to Hong Kong’s debut pavilion for the Venice Biennale in 2001. Throughout, Pau’s work clearly demonstrates an interest in using technological developments and media as a way to pose questions about aspects of Hong Kong society and politics, including gender issues.
Aside from the considerable significance of her personal artistic production, Pau has played a central role in the promotion and development of the art community in Hong Kong. Following her participation in the Phoenix Cine Club, Pau co-founded Videotage with May Fung, Wong Chi Fai, and Comyn Mo in 1986, with the resources and support from Zuni Icosahedron. The collective, dedicated to video and new media, remains the city’s longest running artist space, now located in Cattle Depot, Hong Kong. At the mark of the 10th anniversary of Videotage in 1996, she founded the Microwave International New Media Arts Festival. Since then, she has made conscious attempts to lead new initiatives for the new media art community, including the open source festival Wikitopia in 2010, Inter-Act Arts in 2014, and later the Hong Kong iteration for the International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA) in 2016 as the Satellite Events Director. Pau has also at times contributed writing, and been involved with administrative roles: in 2014, Pau was appointed by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council as a representative of the Art Form Group in Film and Media Arts, and since the same year, she has served on the M+ acquisition committee until 2020, where she was the sole artist member.
As befitting an artist of Pau’s stature, her work has been extensively shown in film festivals and exhibitions worldwide. Aside from the Venice Biennale and "Container 96" mentioned above, her work has featured in the "Deep Dish TV series …will be televised": "Video Documents from Asia" (curated by Shu Lea Cheang in 1990), the Hong Kong International Film Festival (1990, 3 1993, 1997 & 2000), 8th International Film Festival for Women (Spain, 1992), the first Gwangju Biennale (1995), the second Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (Queensland, 1996), the second Johannesburg Biennale and "Cities on the Move" (both 1997), the Liverpool Biennial (2003), "Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World" (2017), and "Awakenings: Art in Society in Asia 1960s-1990s" (2019). In 2018, "What about Home Affairs", a retrospective, was curated by Freya Chou at Para Site. Her work is in the collection of M+, Centre Pompidou, Hong Kong Museum of Art, and Griffith University (Brisbane).
Ellen Pau, Videotage, Microwave, Wikitopia, Inter-Act Arts
English, Traditional Chinese
Open to researchers. Onsite-only materials are available for consultation at AAA Library in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong. Please make an appointment at firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject to all copyright laws. Permission to republish materials must be obtained from copyright owners. Please contact email@example.com for further enquiries.
Credits and Project Team
Digitisation is made possible by the generous support of the AAA Women and Gender Diversity Fund.
Project Researcher: John Tain, Freya Chou, Lo Yin Shan
Research Assistant: Terrence Cheung
Collections Assistant: Lydia Lam