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Christy Chow’s ’De-stitching’ Wins Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize 2017

December 12, 2017 Accolades No Comments Email Email

With over 160 touching submissions and 26 powerful shortlisted works, Justice Centre Hong Kong is pleased to announce Christy Chow as the winner of the fourth annual Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize (HKHRAP) for her piece, De-stitching. This past Saturday, Christy received an exclusive trophy hand-forged by Hong Kong artist and member of the judging panel, Kacey Wong, as well as HK$35,000 in prize money.

De-stitching along with the shortlisted artworks will be available for viewing and silent auction at Blindspot Gallery through 16 December from 10am-6pm with all proceeds going to the respective artists and to support the important non-profit work of Justice Centre Hong Kong: For more information on the silent auction, visit the official HKHRAP website:

“HKHRAP is for artists, thinkers, collaborators and enablers and a celebration for those who are brave enough to open their eyes, to really see, and to bring their stories to light from the darkest corners and the fiercest fights. We offer our congratulations to the winners of this year’s prize. The incredible breadth of local talent and diversity of ideas around powerful themes and aesthetics in their work touched upon the value of labor in a capitalist society and the disposable culture of fashion, the scars of war and remembering our past pain, the sex industry in HK and equality and dignity around LGBT rights,” says directors Katie Vajda and Peter Augustus Owen.

About the winning piece 

De-stitching is part of the “Laborland” series. The artist took a shirt that was sewn together by a sweatshop worker in Bangladesh in less than 15 minutes and deconstructed it by removing 3,745 stitches carefully and counting every stitch in Cantonese over 4.5 hours. She did this to experience and pay tribute to the labour of the anonymous sweatshop worker, questioning the value of labour in the world of capitalism, and asking if the value of labour can only be measured monetarily.

Co-Founder and Executive Director of Asia Art Archive and judge on the panel Claire Hsu speaks about the powerful entries this year, “Art has the power to speak the unspeakable and give voice to those rendered speechless. The winners of the Human Rights Art Prize this year demonstrate this with works in a wide range of media on issues that touch on the value and abuse of human labour, the deep wounds and scars of war and the ongoing struggle for gender equality. In a world where the abuse of human rights is being felt on an unprecedented level, it is essential we find languages that can be commonly understood to ensure that we do not forget those around us struggling to overcome injustices.”

The winner’s trophy

Celebrated local artist and Judge Kacey Wong constructed the winning trophy from traditional brass casting and welding techniques. The concept of the trophy, which took three months to realise, is based on the image of two fists holding and bending two vertical bars creating an opening, suggesting the concept of empowerment of the individual, or ‘prison break’ and therefore, freedom.

The runners-up and Director’s Choice

Since its launch by Justice Centre Hong Kong in 2013, the HKHRAP has played a pivotal role in unearthing new creative talent and encouraging Hong Kong-based artists to explore the state of human rights both at home and abroad. In addition to the prestigious winning prize, two runners-up and a Director’s Choice also received recognition for their submissions. First runner up was Isaac Chong Wai for The Silent Wall, second runner up was Jennifer Lai Cing Yan for I Desire and the Director’s Choice was awarded to Magus Yuen Kam Wa for Closet.

First Runner-up – The Silent Wall, Isaac Chong Wai

“There are traces of the past indicating the reasons why we should stand for human rights. I was in Sarajevo and I saw bullet holes everywhere in the city. I wondered what attitude we should have towards these wounds from the war. I had asked numerous Bosnians most of whom told me ‘These are not a taboo of our city. Since we live here, we don’t pay attention to these holes. They are part of our city.’ Dealing with the wounds on walls, I would not add or remove anything from the walls inasmuch as the holes, certainly, are the memorial itself of a brutal history. By then, I decided to use performance as a medium to approach the untouchable memories. During a trip in Sarajevo, I had found walls with bullet holes in different areas. I touched and covered the holes of each wall on the street; in the video, I slightly turned down the volume of the sound until it became silent.”

Second Runner-up – I Desire, Jennifer Lai Cing Yan

This is a continuous research project on the sex industry in Hong Kong. My initiative is based on the lack of awareness and recognition of the sex workers. They are living an underprivileged life. By adopting part of the protesting slogan from the recent Umbrella Movement, the two Chinese characters explicitly show what I Desire. The light installation uses pink neon tubes which symbolise the present brothels of the city, through which I am trying to find angle to investigate where the workers can be represented.

About Director’s Choice winner – Closet, Magus Yuen Kam Wa

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”, no matter their religion, race or sexual orientation. People are being condemned, bullied, abused and killed for loving someone – their relationship hidden by cultural and social pressures which is not even wrong in essence. Love should not be locked inside a closet.

The judging process

Entries were judged by an esteemed panel of experts from Hong Kong’s art and business community including Claire Hsu, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Asia Art Archive; Elaine W. Ng, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of ArtAsiaPacific magazine; Kacey Wong, noted Hong Kong artist; David Schacht, VP of Global Initiatives for National Geographic Society; and Cosmin Costinas, Executive Director/Curator of Para Site.

This is the first year the HKHRAP has been open to all visual mediums, resulting in the highest number of entries in the history of the prize. “The entries included a full spectrum of the visual arts, from film and video work to sculpture. Photography and painting also continued to be well represented this year. The quality of each piece was superb, and the judges did not have an easy task,” says Peter Augustus Owen, Co-Director of the Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize.

“We hope the Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize allows us to engage with more community sectors, from artists, art institutions, education providers, the media, galleries and corporates, while raising awareness and much-needed funds for the frontline work of Justice Centre Hong Kong,” says Piya Muqit, Executive Director of Justice Centre Hong Kong.

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