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CREATING ACROSS CULTURES

Politics Demand an Artistic Response

The one who danced to the music The one who liked eating noodles The one who liked drinking plain water The one who wore a hat to keep off the sun Where have they all gone now? — Leung Ping-kwan Quiet Things

Two major events punctuated the Hong Kong arts scene in the 1980s: the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration in 1984 that would return Hong Kong to China in 1997, and the 1989 student protests in Tiananmen Square. Choi Yan Chi remembers a moment in April of 1989, sitting with the poet Leung Ping-kwan and the feminist performance artist Yau Ching, and discussing their interdisciplinary project Object-activity set for that summer. They were preoccupied with the student movement taking place in Beijing and could not concentrate on their work. “We just kept talking,” remembers Choi. “Especially Leung Ping-kwan, who was connected with the cultural circles in China. The intention of our performance kept changing; finally we just had to follow the impulse of the student movement.” The traumatic termination of the protests on June 4 unleashed a flood of sorrow, anger and fear throughout Hong Kong. “We felt paralyzed,” remembers Choi. “It was the first shocking political event for Hong Kong people. We asked ourselves, ‘Why are we doing art? Is there any meaning?’ For young people at that time, my students, it was the first time they awakened to the realization that they were Chinese. People were getting anxious; 1997 was approaching, there was a sense of urgency, the wish for democracy started to grow.” When Object-activity opened a month later, in July, the exhibition provided a much-needed mourning space for the entire creative

A student confined in a fish tank as performance art for the collective exhibition Object-activity, Sheung Wan Town Hall, Hong Kong, July 1989.

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Creating Across Cultures - Choi Yan Chi  

These articles first appeared in the 2017 publication "Creating Across Cultures: Women in the Arts from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan",...

Creating Across Cultures - Choi Yan Chi  

These articles first appeared in the 2017 publication "Creating Across Cultures: Women in the Arts from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan",...

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