AbstractThe purpose of this study is to analyse the interaction between art and contested notions of Hong Kong identity by examining recent installations that employ the red, white and blue-striped plastic fabric, locally known in Hong Kong as red-white-blue (紅白藍). The red-white-blue fabric has, in recent years, become a signifier of the collective identity of Hong Kong people and of the ‘Hong Kong spirit’, with specific reference to the traits of the working class in the 1960s. The repeated articulations of this material in artworks show that there are certain qualities in this material with which local people identify. This study examines how installation works that employ this material question and revise notions of Hong Kong identity, and suggest its plurality and mutability. Works of local artists including Stanley Wong (a.k.a. Anothermountainman), Kith Tsang, Doris Wong, Siu King Chung and Tim Li are discussed in detail.
Accounts of installations that employ red-white-blue often offer a limited interpretation of such works, paying insufficient attention to formal qualities and assuming a fixed and unitary notion of Hong Kong identity. The thesis argues that this paradigmatic cliché about Hong Kong identity is also expressed in the red-white-blue works of Stanley Wong to the extent that they evoke nostalgia and neglect contemporary social reality. The prevalence of such readings of red-white-blue-inspired works of art has veiled the complexity of works that interrogate Hong Kong identity from a diversity of perspectives. The contribution of this thesis is to remedy that situation, and provide a comprehensive account of key red-white-blue installation works.
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