Manmade - A Project about Masculinity and Art

Chung Hau-ching, Kam Man – fai, Pak Sheung-chuen , Steven Pang, Sun Yung Hoi-sun, Special contributor: Travis KONG

Mar 17 – Apr 04, 2004

As a project consisting of exhibition, performance and video-screening curated by Leung Po-Shan with reference to the local art development, it looks at the gender issue of contemporary art practice. While Tsang Tak-Ping and Pak Sheung-Chuen exhibiting at Para/Site, screening of video by Kam Man-Fai and performance by Steven Pang will take place in different locations to explore larger audience.

If we have something called 'Woman Art,' why don't we have something called 'Man Art' on equal terms?

In order to investigate the concept of male art, I will re-perform four works originally executed by women artists. When a man replaces a woman within the context of 'Woman Art,' does ideas of femininity remain unchanged and unchallenged, or would I as a man in turn discover 'femininity' within myself during the re-enactments of these 'female' performances? On the other hand, in the transient moments of performing, I may find that entrenched ideas in 'Woman Art' and 'Man Art' still lie in opposition to one another. Then again, perhaps gender bears no relation at all to the art itself ?

- Sun YUN

Since the rise of movements in the 1960s and 70s, feminism has flourished in almost every corner of the world as an academic discipline as well as a socio-political engagement. In the field of art, those who make and write about art have increased awareness about gender politics, particularly in the visual representation of women. In fact, consciousness and sensitivity towards gender issues through workshops, forums and exhibitions featuring women artists have prevailed over the local arts scene since the Eighties. Among all this activity, however, we seem to have forgotten our ‘other-half’, as equal beings also in the pursuit of transformation. Unfortunately because we rarely hear voices from male artists regarding their own situation and experiences as ‘gendered-subjects’, gender studies is often identified as ‘women studies’; and artistic intervention, confined among the single sex, is placed under the big rubric of ‘woman art’. Perhaps one of the reasons for the indifference of the male artist is due to women monopolizing the debate, which leaves no room for men to enter the discussion?

Nowadays, when we subscribe to the terms and ideas of ‘women art’, could we also subscribe to the idea of ‘male art’ on equal terms? Now that feminism is fast reaching a dead alley of self-ghettoization, would more investigations and experiments of ‘the other sex’ help to deconstruct or revitalize the once radical orthodox?

In 1993, a group of artists in Hong Kong organized a multi-media event titled ‘AhMen’. Since then, it has been the only event produced about masculinity and its cultural representation. A decade later, with growing concerns about masculinity in cultural studies and new living experiences, have men stayed the same? Or have there been subtle changes that we have not noticed? This exhibition invites artists of different ages and sexuality to re-examine themselves as gendered-subjects and respond to the above queries through their art works.

Brief biographies:

Steven PANG first trained as a visual artist but his name is more familiar to theatre audiences with his theatre group, ‘20beans + a box’. He will continue to ramble under the grey shadows of different roles and identities with his installation pieces.

CHUN Hau-ching, an early graduate of the Comparative Literature Department of HKU, is now a housewife who occasionally participates in art events. She will dis/continue her gender performance in the ‘Man-made’ project.

PAK Sheung-chuen, is a recent graduate of the Fine Arts Department of the Chinese University. Despite of his ‘feminine’ sensitivity expressed in his drawing, painting and mixed media works, he has never come across sexual issues in his art.

KAM Man-fai is a video artist with an obsession with Guan Yu (the God of War). His ‘feminine’ time sense occupies his continuous negotiation between the two sexes. Sun YUNG is a young artist who is also a graduate from the Chinese University majoring in Fine Art. His seemingly self-masochistic performances are indeed a means of self-therapy with Christian overtones. 

The project is initiated by Anthony LEUNG Po-shan, with special contribution from Dr. Travis KONG. Guest speakers, Bono Lee and Dr. Laikwan PANG will lead a discussion around the topic of Masculinity and its visual representations. An anthology will be published as documentation of the project later this year.

For more detailed biographies of participants, please refer to the Chinese press release.