Lau Kin Wah Jaspar was AAA’s first resident. During his residency from June to November 2007, Lau developed 'HistoriCITY - Art Historical Writing in and on Hong Kong', a research project concerned with the writing of art history of Hong Kong, the accuracy of its telling, and the inclusion of local voices in its documentation.

To generate open dialogue on these issues, AAA, Lau and a number of local art practitioners co-organised a mini-exhibition at the Archive, a series of reading groups, and a roundtable symposium.

HistoriCITY – Art Historical Writing in and on Hong Kong 

Curatorial statement

When will we have the first publication of Hong Kong art history written by a Hong Kong author?

Twenty years after the publication of Modern Art in Hong Kong by Petra Hinterthuer in 1985, mainland writer Zhu Qi published his book History of Hong Kong Fine Art. Both publications on Hong Kong art history are not by Hong Kong writers.

What is important is not who is going to write art history for Hong Kong but what kind of knowledge and interpretation of Hong Kong art history is presented in each publication. As we keep demanding of ourselves that we understand history via multiple perspectives, there is, however, an absence of local voices on the history of Hong Kong art. Does such an absence denote certain cultural phenomena in Hong Kong, or simply a lack of constructive encouragement of art history development in Hong Kong?

Following the 10th anniversary of the Handover and the recent burst of heritage protests, today is perhaps the time to reflect on our conceptions of history. Discussions of ‘de-colonisation’ and ‘autonomy’ are currently back on the agenda of the local art and culture local scene. Now is the time for us to re-organise our own history in a systematic way and to publish our own book on Hong Kong’s art history.

Hong Kong people remain unsure not just about the so-called ‘grand history’ or ‘grand narrative’, but also about the identity of Hong Kong art, which they cannot define, even after the Handover. The identity of Hong Kong art and its role in Chinese art may provide us with an approach to understanding our position. Art history as a discipline should respond to changes in society. It should also be a response to the relationship between art historical writing and contemporary art.

Project Description
To generate open dialogues on the above issues, AAA and mMK co- organised a mini-exhibition at the archive, a series of reading groups and a roundtable symposium throughout the period from June to November 2007.


Project 1: Art Project — Mini-Exhibition at Asia Art Archive

Art history is being taught in local universities and has recently been included in the curriculum in secondary schools, yet it is often perceived as a dry, stagnant and conservative subject. Such perception is a reflection of an outdated mode of thinking about art history, a field that is actually undergoing exciting changes.

Guest curator Jaspar Lau Kin Wah invited seven Hong Kong artists including Law Man Lok, Lee Kit, Leung Mee Ping, Pak Sheung Chuen Tozer, Tang Ying Chi Stella, Kith Tsang Tak Ping and Luke Ching Chin Wai to re-examine their relationship with this academic discipline by producing works in response to Zhu Qi’s History of Hong Kong Fine Art. The project was not only interested in how the artists view art history, how they view themselves as situated in it, but also what art history for contemporary art could otherwise be. The exhibition lasted for 6 months from June to November 2007.


Project 2: Reading Group

A series of reading groups accompanying the project was held from June to November 2007. They were set up as both preparation for the final discussion in the roundtable on Hong Kong Art Historical Writing in late September 2007, as well as an experimental project of its own. It provided a platform outside the academy to look on the discipline of art history from different aspects and on different areas.

Project 3: Roundtable Symposium

Twelve local and mainland art historians and cultural workers were invited to take part in the roundtable symposium on Hong Kong art historical writing on 29 September 2007 at the Hong Kong Museum of Art. The roundtable symposium aimed to encourage not just dialogues and discussion among artists, art writers, curators and scholars, but also conversations with the public on the above topic.


- Jaspar Lau Kin Wah

About mMK

mMK (mini-Museum von Kaspar, after MMK — Museum fuer Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt) is the nickname for the DIY experimental curating project first initiated by Jaspar Lau Kin Wah in 1996.

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HistoriCITY - Art Historical Writing in and on Hong Kong

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