Wednesday, November 26, 2008

HONG KONG femail artists--After reading the YISHU Journal

The concept related to “woman” has always been an interesting and attractive topic in every field. Women have long been involved in making art, but gender consciousness is art is the result of political strategizing. According to YISHU, Generations of female artists have dealt with their own circumstances in ways that have led to different choices and forms of analysis.
The article is about the Hong Kong female artists of different generations. The most interesting part is that, female artists who achieved early success and prominence tended to oppose the application of the label “female/feminine” carried a vague negative connotation. With the passage of time, another group of female artists now opposes the se of gender in descriptions of them, but their reasoning lies in an attitude of “Wah! To talk about women artists is so passé.”

Liang Yee-woo梁以瑚
Liang Yee-woo studied abroad in Canada during the 1960s and came back to Hong Kong at the end of 1970s to “seek roots”. At just that time, the New Ink Painting had come to the forefront. Liang regarded the New Ink movement as an emptying out of traditional Chinese painting, a clever deception using clever method. Lotus flowers became her most unique and favorite subject matter, because they faintly suggested a Chinese literati tradition, as well as associations with maternity. As a result, she felt the need to emphasize women’s art and began calling herself a “female painter”. Her subsequent experience of giving birth led her to affirm the female body more directly and to assert the opinion that “birth is a kind of blessing.” She strongly felt that “the female body was already inside her painting”, and with strength gained from her experience of birth, she finally finished doing imitative studies and embarked upon a new creative stage.
But it’s very difficult to find any her works relevant to her female identity. The only pictures I fond were also very interesting.

May Fung
Starting out using super-8 film, May Fung was one of the original pioneers in Hong Kong in experimental film and video. In 1986, Fung together with Ellen Pau and some other friends formed Videotage, which is a non-profit interdisciplinary artist collective focusing on the development of video and new media art in Hong Kong.
One thing I want to mention about her is her attitude towards her identification, she firmly claims that she’s not a feminist, but other artists tend to quietly call her a “feminist who denies she’s a feminist”. But the label she values more is “independent art worker.” She basically doesn’t have that kind of morale and she understands that for some friends who have spent significant time overseas gender is a political urgency that arises from academic and personal identity conditions of necessity. But in Hong Kong, there are less feeling of oppression or a sense of urgency to necessarily always think about it.
Some of her works include “The second sex”(1986), Her Border, Her Lines(1990), Hong Kong in Transition—getting personal(1997). Her experimental works include lots of observations on social-political issues from a women’s perspective. Of the women she saw and heard about at work, none of them had abilities or achievements that differed from those of the male colleagues. So her works mainly focus on the independent spirit and situation of women in Hong Kong.
(You can go to the website of Videotage: But strangely, I notice that in the name list of “Board of Directions”, May Fung’s name no longer exists.)
Although these two artists of a “previous generation ” both dealt with women’s issues in their artwork, over time they have come to a similar conclusion of doubting whether or not it is necessary to concertedly emphasize women’s art. Liang Yee-woo’s hope has been for a greater exploration of aesthetics that tend toward a feminine sensibility, not for political opposition based on biological gender determinism. And I totally agree with that.

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